No paintbrushes were harmed in the making of Tyler Hobbs’ Fidenza. Photoshop wasn’t even opened once inside his Holly neighborhood studio. Hobbs, a computer scientist-turned-generative artist, created his now-viral art collection entirely from raw lines of code. “Take your stereotypical hacker scene in a movie where they’re typing words into a black console,” he says. “That’s basically what I’m looking at and working with.”
Since hitting the blockchain—the giant decentralized digital ledger where transactions are stored—in June 2021, Fidenza has caused a storm among NFTs (non-fungible tokens). It’s since made more than $177 million in secondary sales, turning Hobbs into a crypto multi-millionaire.
Here, Hobbs shares details about the code underneath his colorful, abstract works of art:
Fidenza #953 features the collection’s most common color palette, “Luxe.” While half of all Fidenzas have this color scheme, it incorporates 16 different hues, so there’s still “a lot of room for unique outcomes,” Hobbs says.
Another element of the code creates a soft texture in certain outputs, like Fidenza #774. The effect, Hobbs says, is accomplished using thousands of tiny parallel lines. “The other standard Fidenzas simply fill each shape uniformly with a color, which has a more bold and graphic look.”
Hobbs ran his Fidenza algorithm 999 times—creating 999 different outputs—each using a random number: the purchaser’s randomized transaction number, or hash. Randomness, Hobbs says, is a key factor in his work, including his newest project, Incomplete Control. “Sometimes even better things will happen than what you could have intentionally designed.”
To his point, some of the most stunning outputs in the Fidenza collection are the results of accidents. Fidenza #313, which resold for a reported $3.3 million last summer, earned its nickname “Tulip” because of its unintentional likeness to the flower. “God Mode,” or Fidenza #938, meanwhile, is an extreme outlier—the result of a bug that accidentally snuck into the final code, Hobbs notes: “It combines multiple features that are improbable. And in fact, I never observed the combination of them while I was developing the algorithm.”