Generative artist Tyler Hobbs, like many of his peers, is still struggling to adjust to his newfound fame.
“It’s been a really big shift in reality for me, so I’m trying to give myself a little time to adjust to it,” Hobbs said.
His signature project Fidenza debuted in June on Art Blocks, a non-fakeable token (NFT) platform. The project, randomly generated by an algorithm designed by Hobbs with a rich color curve and blocks, was minted in 999 pieces at a price of 0.17 British coins (about $400 at the time) each. They are now trading on the secondary marketplace OpenSea for as much as 1,000 Ether each (about $3.5 million).
The surge in popularity of NFTs over the summer has been a boon to the generative art community. According to The Block’s data dashboard, $3.25 billion in NFTs were exchanged on marketplaces like OpenSea in August – far surpassing March’s monthly high of $315 million.
Hobbs said the current market conditions may be the first “mainstream breakthrough” for generative artists who have been struggling on the fringes of the art world for decades.
But can the good times last? Some have compared the frenetic nature of speculation in the NFT space to the initial token offering (ICO) bubble of 2017.
“I would be totally surprised if NFTs go away,” says Hobbs.” I think they’re here to stay, and I think they’re going to play a huge role in the art world and especially in digital art for the foreseeable future.”
However, Hobbs added that boom-and-bust cycles happen in many markets.” He said, “I think we’ve seen a lot of booms, so it’s only natural to expect some sort of corresponding bust at some point.
Hobbs’ confidence comes in part from his belief that NFTs have reached “a critical mass of social acceptance,” he says.” As long as everyone agrees that it makes some sense to have an NFT, then it makes sense.”
Art Blocks’ model offers some reassurance to collectors in this regard. The platform, which rolled up a large portion of the cash flowing into NFTs over the summer, stores the scripts used to generate an artist’s work on the blockchain. This allows owners to verify that the works they own were generated by code written by the artist.
“So you can basically guarantee that all the output is coming from a fully generated program. There’s no manual manipulation, no curation, no hand assembly,” says Hobbs.