Defining art in a fresh way, Rah Crawford adopts NFT and crypto currency and retires from the art world
This conversation reunites Libby and Roberta — Artblog co-founders who initiated Artblog Radio podcasts in 2010 — to talk with Rah Crawford, an artist who they met and whose work they followed closely beginning around 2005. In this 35-minute podcast, Crawford talks about his journey as an artist, which now includes NFTs and crypto culture and retiring his art practice!

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Rah Crawford, a Black man with a buzz cut, wearing 50's style browline glasses and a dark blue denim button up, and smiling into the camera, superimposed onto a colorful digital background.
Rah Crawford, Courtesy Rah Crawford. Edited for Artblog Radio.

In 2005, Rah Crawford destroyed a number of his paintings — in a gallery — where his solo show failed to sell out. It was an emotional performance, both for the artist, who was destroying some of his favorite works, and for the audience, who witnessed at close range the sawing-to-pieces of the works. This provocative artist is doing something provocative again – retiring from his art practice (at age 48)!  Shifts in Pop culture and in contemporary language have always fueled Crawford’s practice and right now, he’s focused on NFTs, and crypto culture and how this new part of the culture will change the arts, like the Internet and the dot com boom changed the arts previously.

Rah Crawford retires from the art world on 12/11/21. Check out his past work at RahCrawford.com or purchase his NFTs on SuperRare. You can listen to Artblog Radio on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Thank you to Kyle McKay for composing Artblog Radio’s original podcast intro and outro!


Transcription

[00:00:12] Roberta Fallon: Hello everyone, it’s Roberta! Welcome to another episode of Artblog Radio. Thanks for joining us. Today is a very special day because, I have Libby with me! Hello, Libby! My partner in crime, co-founder of artblog, podcast co-host for many, many years. We’re so happy to have you here Libby, today, for this very special session.

And we’re also very excited to speak with Rah Crawford. Welcome Rah!

[00:00:42] Rah Crawford: Hello, everyone, thanks so much for having me! Great to see you both.

[00:00:46] Roberta: It’s great to see you, too. Thank you. Rah is an artist. He’s an artist provocateur, I like to say, whose early work included destroying his unsold paintings in front of an audience, and in a gallery. It was very emotional. Rah is back in Philadelphia and has a provocative new project, and we want to hear all about it.

So let’s get started. Lots to talk about.

[00:01:13] Rah Crawford: Absolutely.

[00:01:15] Libby Rosof: So I remember, both with fondness and a little bit of sadness too, the night that you destroyed your paintings, it was in 2005, I think. And and I sort of felt like I was in the Roman Forum. You were actually upset, visibly upset, when you were doing that. And you were doing it because it hadn’t sold, as I recall.

And you took a saw to it, was it a….?

[00:01:48] Rah Crawford: It was an electric hand saw, yes (laughs).

[00:01:50] Libby: An electric hand saw. And it was very physical. And you had your little girl standing there too. And I don’t know how she’s dealing with, (laughing) with this memory… How are you dealing with memory?

[00:02:07] Rah Crawford: I’m doing okay. That was actually for 2005 exhibition. It was called “Deus ex Machina.” And it was act two of a four-part act exhibition called “Welcome to Earth.” So that was act two. And in that exhibition, “Deus ex Machina,” I, you know, as a creator, I wanted to kind of embody that role of God in the sense, you know? I set out to, you know, at that time I was, you know, started off in acrylics and I was started to create oil paintings.

And I set up in my mind was this exhibition that my favorite works. If they weren’t sold– it was, I think I took like two or three of them– my very favorite works that I thought really represented where my skill was at at that time, that I really held dear to my heart, I was going to destroy those works if they weren’t sold.

And when I thought about it, you know, like the trick pony of that, it’s like, okay, you can just grab any work and destroy it if you don’t care about it. But I want it to be something that I love. I wanted to fill that kind of, you know, paternal, you know, relationship with the work.

And so destroying it was intense. That was such an intense emotion and people that were there in that room– like you said, you were there– felt that. And to this day, people still talk about that moment because it was a real true moment for me. And I’m glad I’m very happy that I did it, and I’m glad that I had that experience because I did, I felt like I was destroying one of my children, and something that I cared about very much.

My daughter doesn’t speak, she doesn’t speak about it much. I mean, I guess she always knew that I’m, you know, ” out there” in that sense, (laughs) so she’s a little bit desensitized to like, what dad’s doing, uh, still, she definitely thought it was cool. You know, at that moment, and was really excited with all of the energy in the room.

But she doesn’t speak about it too much, you know, these days. She’s like, 28. I have two daughters, 28 and 27, now. Time flies.

[00:03:50] Libby: Wow.

[00:03:52] Rah Crawford: Yeah.

[00:03:52] Libby: So she was pretty little though.

[00:03:54] Rah Crawford: Oh, yeah, she was yeah, she pretty young, but it was, it was, it was intense. Definitely.

[00:04:00] Libby: Wow. So are you still in Brooklyn?

[00:04:04] Rah Crawford: I actually just moved from Brooklyn to Princeton about, I would say two, two and a half months ago. Just moved. So switching, getting a different scenery. Trees, air, just switching up. I lived in Brooklyn for about 12 years in the Bushwick area, specifically, where I spent most of my time. So I’ve done a lot in that area. I actually created the first mural and it started the mural explosion in Bushwick, Brooklyn. And I’ve done a lot of on the ground work there, and a lot of creative projects, and so many friends, and I’ve had so many experiences. It was just time for me to move on and kind of switch things up.

[00:04:38] Libby: So why do you choose Princeton?

[00:04:40] Rah Crawford: I go with my instinct, you know? I go with my instinct. I’m called– part of like my, what I do with my work is definitely a clairvoyant aspect to it– and so I’m called, I’m called here, you know, my wife and I are here. And it’s really exciting. And all of a sudden, as soon as we touched ground, like all these kinds of new magical things have happened, new relationships and new opportunities.

So I’m really excited about it. I obviously have some work to do here, so I’m being present and open for that work. And it’s actually great, you know, as far as distance, right? So it’s a great distance from Philadelphia, and a great distance to New York.

So I’m still traveling back and forth to New York. I’m there, you know, I teach an “Abstract Learning and Creativity” class in New York, uh, at a school in the Lower East Side. So I’m there weekly, I have meetings weekly with clients and projects, and I have family in Philadelphia, so does my wife, you know, so it’s a great place to be in the middle, to be able to get to, you know, both cities.

[00:05:32] Roberta: Very very cool. guess it’s my turn. bring up, let’s talk about the influences on your work and early on– and I want to know if this continues to this day, and maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t– your work seem to have a lot of influence from advertising and Pop Art? And also words and wordplay, you were a wordsmith.

And I wonder if you could talk about that a little bit, and whether that continues through your art?

[00:06:02] Rah Crawford: Absolutely. I was always interested in… You know, my work focused on popular culture, right? Or this current, evolving, culture that we live in. Because this keeps changing, right? And it’s where all of our means are coming from. And even with social media, it’s exploded into this whole new culture and it’s, you know… it’s pervasive now through politics, and we’ve seen what’s happening. It’s just… It’s the pulse of what’s happening right now, for better or worse, right?

And so in that, we’ve also seen like these words that have come out in society and how they’re being redefined, how the media will grab them and shape them. I’ll take the example, like even the word “slam,” right? All of a sudden “slam” is a trending word and the media owns the word “slam.” and so if you disagree with anything that someone says now you’re “slamming” them all of a sudden.

So we’ve seen words shift we’ve seen all of these chains, we’ve seen, you know, with the former president’s campaign, and how they used words. So words, defining words, ownership of words… We’ve seen things with social justice, “Black Lives Matter,” like all of these things, just the word “matter,” you know, everything’s changed. It was all about words. It’s always been about that, and now with social media and things that have happened now, I think that’s been brought to the forefront.

But I think at the heart of it, my work has always been about observing the pulse of where we are as evolving human beings, and how we change. And so that’s been a focus of my work. And so that’s why words have had a big part in that.

[00:07:26] Libby: And have you seen the trajectory from when you began to now, in how your own words have changed?

[00:07:34] Rah Crawford: Oh, absolutely. Wow. Yes. Everything has changed. It’s funny now, like looking back, you know? So I’m 48 now. And so looking back to like when I started, I would say, officially– and I think that’s when I kind of first bumped into you, I believe, like on the sidewalk, you know, in Philadelphia– so 2004 was like my first official, legit gallery exhibition. In a gallery. And prior to that, I’ve done underground exhibitions and kind of exhibited things on my own and was making artwork…

So yes, I’ve seen– I mean, we’ve seen during that time as an artist– seen a rise in social media. I’ve seen that change. I’ve seen that change in how artists represent their work, how artists present their work, and now with new technologies like blockchain and NFTs, that has evolved again.

I’ve seen a lot of shifts and there’s a new shift that’s getting ready– it’s actually not getting ready– it’s taking place right now: which is NFTs and crypto-culture and how it’s affecting the arts. It’s changing everything. It’s mixed with finance. And so I’ve been very fortunate, like I said, how I live now in Princeton, to be… sometimes, like, in the right place at the right time. And I think this is part of my life mission. And I happen to be involved in this technology and in this culture, um, from Bushwick, where I was for 12 years, and I’ve been like right at the heart of it.

So I’ve been one of the early emerging artists in this completely new frontier, which has been really exciting. Seeing things change and adapt. So in answering your question Libby,, yes. The words have changed. The context has changed. Everything’s changed over time.

[00:09:10] Libby: Well, what are NFTs? I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who know, but I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who don’t know.

[00:09:17] Rah Crawford: Most people don’t know. Most folks don’t know. It’s still early.

So in short, NFT stands for a “Non-Fungible Token.” So there are many complex answers to it, but in short, we have entered, because of computers and technology, we’ve entered a new era. And it’s similar to the “dot com boom.” Remember before no one knew what a website was, right? And it’s like, what’s a website. And all of a sudden there were these things called websites and everyone had to have one. And companies had to have one. At first, it was companies, after that, individuals had to have one. And if you didn’t have a website, like you didn’t exist, you just had to have a website.

That kind of shift is taking place right now. We’ve entered the age, which is called “digital scarcity.” And digital scarcity simply means that digital files, simplify, like a JPEG file, an MP4 file, a PNG file… these files that we have, we email them, we text them to each other all the time… we’ve entered an error where those digital files have now become digital assets, right? And so they become digital assets because there’s technology that can verify ownership of the file.

Previously, like, if I had a photo on my phone, and I texted to you, Libby, you then send it to Roberta, and you send it to all of your other friends, it doesn’t matter who owns that file, right? We can’t prove who owns it. But because of this technology, you can actually have verified ownership of who owns that file. And because of that, you can actually, that file can be an asset. You could purchase that digital file from me. And then once you purchase it, you are the verified owner and there a ledger where it’s tracked.

And so now you have digital assets, that because– I’m giving you a really simplified version of it– and so, because of that, it’s created a whole new industry that’s changing everything- in arts, entertainment, and finance around the world. Which is the whole new “Web 3.0” era that we’re in right now.

[00:11:11] Libby: So, can you give me a sense of that change? It’s a really great explanation, by the way, it was easy enough to follow. But what does it do to the environment around it?

[00:11:24] Rah Crawford: Oh, it changes everything. I mean, it changed everything, in a sense. As far as an artists, you have artists that are selling digital artwork, that’s not printed, in they’re selling them at higher numbers than established artists that are selling in galleries on canvas.

An example – have you heard in the headlines of the artist, Beeple? Uh, sold art at auction for $69 million dollars. And that was technically a… I believe it might’ve been a PNG or JPEG file.

And now the big auction houses understand it, and they’re a part of it, and they’re pushing it. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips, they’re all behind it. They’re all, you know, grabbing the top digital artists and crypto artists and people are… new millionaires are being birthed.

The money’s insane.

[00:12:04] Libby: What’s a crypto artist?

[00:12:06] Rah Crawford: A crypto artist is an artist who creates art, primarily just digital art as NFTs. And they’re selling it. So you have artists that are, you know, I’m definitely would be a traditional artist who’s crossed over into this space. And I, you know, I minted my first piece– and again, “minting” is what it’s called when you actually place a piece on the blockchain that’s called like minting it, so– I minted my first piece in like early 2018. So I’m still, you know, one of the early they call it the “OG” early artists in the space.

And this was part of my, you know, I entered a new creative period back in like end of 2017, which I called my “Neo-now” period. Cause I thought about, you know, again, thinking about Picasso had his blue period, he has different periods, once I learned about this technology and learn what was happening, I said, you know what, this is a whole new era. So I entered a new period and that’s when I started to do just digital art. So I was just doing digital images and digital art. Um, and started creating NFTs, and started, you know, pretty much like becoming a crypto artist. But crypto artists, formerly, are these artists that have never exhibited before.

They’ve never had gallery shows. They produce digital art, primarily, and their careers were birthed using this technology.

[00:13:20] Roberta: Can I ask whether this is better for the art world, or not? Is it better in terms of diversifying who gets to make money on art? I mean, you talk about the auction houses and whatnot. They’re serving the 1%.

[00:13:37] Rah Crawford: This is true.
[00:13:38] Roberta: So who benefits from the NFTs most? The auction houses? Or are there artists getting some benefit?

[00:13:47] Rah Crawford: Yeah. So I think to answer that. All things are true, right? All of those things are true, and they’re true in very different ways. The technology itself is amazing, because the technology allows an artist– to give you an example– it allows an artist to have artwork that a collector can purchase, right? And so the collector purchases, and written into the code of that smart contract, depending on what platform you mint on is also code that says “when this artwork is sold, there is a percentage that goes to the artist, in perpetuity.” which is amazing, right? And the artist doesn’t have to track it or chase it down. There’s no paperwork. The code is figuring that out.

I was first amazed when my art was resold and I got a commission from that. So, and that’s the thing that you can leave his legacy, you know, to your estate and your family, but… In perpetuity, as your career grows, and this artwork is sold, you receive a percentage of that sale. So that alone is amazing, and a game changer. Such a thing doesn’t exist in a traditional art world. So those kinds of things are happening, so yes. That’s amazing.

There are also artists lives that are being completely changed. You have brand new artists that are popping up, like pretty much almost out of nowhere, that some of them have become millionaires. And I mean, that’s on the, that’s on the, the high end of the like, the great stories, right? Great case studies.

On the regular, you know, version. You do have artists that are making sales and it’s changing their lives. So you do have a lot of new artists that are changing. On the other hand, you still have humans, you still have auction houses, you still have the backdoor deals and things that are going to pump and dump artists. And you know, all of that is happening as well. And because this technology, finance is a big part of it. So you have finance industry connected into it as well.

So yes, all of the shenanigans that we all know humans do, from financing and trading in the art world, is here colliding and it’s… all of those things are happening. That’s why I said yes. But (laughs) you do have artists that are receiving value and able to actually extract value in a different way.

[00:15:53] Roberta: I just wanted to ask another question to help clarify in my mind, because this is all really, like Libby said, very interesting and you’re explaining it so well. Blockchain, you said you minted it, your first piece, put it on blockchain.

Can you explain how an artist does that and what that actually means? And how did you get your commission on your resale that you heard about? Was that through blockchain also?

[00:16:19] Rah Crawford: Yes. Well, blockchain itself is just a technology and it’s the way that computers are networked to verify information. So I guess I’m just going to keep the simple answer, you know, so that’s just the technologies, blockchain technology. As far as how an artists would, you know, like I said, mint work, or have their, make their work available.

There are a variety of cryptoart, digital art, platforms that exists right now. And there are new ones every day that are coming onto the market because they see the money that’s happening in this place. And there’s going to be even more of them, um, As these things evolve and move forward. On my particular end, that was one of the earliest platforms called SuperRare. So that is the platform where my artwork is. And so I minted my work on SuperRare platform.

How did I receive my artists royalty? Okay. And so when you’re dealing with blockchain technology you actually have to have a digital wallet or a crypto wallet. And that’s connected to your, embedded in your browser. So this is part of like”Web 3.0,” so it’s like, imagine having a bank account, right? An independent bank account of your own, that’s connected into your browser, right? And so whenever you, you know, sign a smart contract– just how you might when you visit a website, it’s like click to accept cookies or something, that kind of thing– when you go to mint artwork, or do any kind of transaction, that is reading your, you know, your individual wallet that is connected to your browser, if that makes sense. So it’s your own personal wallet. And that is your signature. That’s your digital key. That’s connected to all your transactions.

And so once you have a piece minted, your, let’s say you have, you know, your, I don’t know if it’s 20, but say you have a 20 digit code, you know, that it’s uniquely yours and it’s embedded in your browser. That’s connected into that smart contract. And so as that artwork is sold, no matter- you don’t have to be there or anything. Your information is already embedded in that contract and it’s computer programming.

So say, you know, a hundred thousand dollars, right? Someone purchases that. The code already knows, this percentage goes to this address, and that immediately will appear in your wallet. So that’s the part of the beauty of the technology and these new smart contracts that are automating everything.

And it’s really cutting out the middleman in all kinds of transactions, you know, not just art- banking, finance, so many things. So it’s a game changer. It’s changing a world. It’s all over the headlines right now. So yeah, it’s exciting. These are things that are happening.

[00:18:50] Libby: Well, it is new and it does sound like it gets rid of the need for a gallery except an online gallery sort of thing, right?

[00:18:58] Rah Crawford: Yes, but what’s happening is– so another major thing that’s happening right now– is since we’re moving into this new era of digital scarcity, right? All of a sudden digital files are now digital assets, right? So you have, you can have a million dollar, $2 million dollar, $69 million dollar JPEG file.

So since these things are happening and you have tons of art, you have new galleries, these things are now being exhibited and explored in digital worlds. And these digital worlds are called metaverses. And people are going, visiting these digital spaces and there are avatars, and there are galleries, there are new galleries that are springing up. I did an interview about two weeks ago with the MoCDA gallery, M-O-C-D-A, Museum of Contemporary Digital Art is what it, the acronym, is for. Uh, We did an interview a couple of weeks ago, but there are- and some of them are very prominent now, because they’re representing artists, and it’s just… I would say the simplest way to explain it is, just how the systems and processes are set up in our physical world; those things have been replicated, are growing, in the digital world.

You have your leading galleries, you have your top artists, you have your top sales, you have your top agents and representatives. And all of these things are happening in a digital space. And because so much money is being made in this digital space, it’s given that same weight.

Sotheby’s has a complete metaverse venue on a platform called Decentraland. You can go inside of the gallery, you can see their exhibitions. There’s someone who’s always there to greet you, in avatar form, to, you know, help you with sales and things. So they really dove in early on.

[00:20:31] Libby: So it’s kind of like the “old art” was the gold standard, and we’re now in the idea of art being like money?

[00:20:40] Rah Crawford: Oh yes.

[00:20:41] Libby: … but without the material… What happens to the material pleasure?

[00:20:47] Rah Crawford: Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s still there, I mean, we have… we really have two worlds. We have two worlds. And the early pioneers in this digital world, are… They’re racing, and they’re building institutions, they’re building museums, they’re representing artists, they’re forming collectives and they’re racing. And for collecting new digital wealth, Is what they’re doing.

And then I would say the general public is slowly coming on board to what’s happening there. So in Art Basel, I just found out today that I need to go, so I will be there. I wasn’t planning on it originally, but there’ll be, you know, Art Basel happening, and at the same time, there’ll be Crypto Basel happening. And the two worlds really are meeting, and they’re meeting in these places and they’re overlapping. You’re having blue-chip, you know, established artists, meeting now with the blue-chip digital artists, like it’s all overlapping it and it’s all happening.

[00:21:32] Roberta: Wait, are they meeting in the real world in Miami or are they…

[00:21:35] Rah Crawford: It’s going to be both. They will, they will be in Miami, but at the same time, there are metaverse events. Give you an example, my company, World Owned, focuses on art entertainment and technology, the intersection of all of those things.

We created the metaverse event for the Bushwick Film Festival, it was their 14th annual event, but we created a whole digital experience, you know, that ran in tandem with the festival. So you could go to the physical events, and the digital world, you can go to this digital world and you could see, you know, films, you could hear talks, uh, You could see an art exhibition. You could see all of these things in a digital space.

[00:22:07] Libby: So this is your new business?

[00:22:08] Rah Crawford: Yes. My company is called World Owned. You know, WorldOwned (O-W-N-E-D) .com, yes.

[00:22:15] Libby: So do you think of yourself still as an artist?

[00:22:18] Rah Crawford: I… no. No, I’m not. I’m a creative pioneer now, you know? I think that, even what I’m seeing happen now- even this explosion, I’ve seen it like with like NFTs, and crypto art, like… what we’re going, kind of predicting what’s happened is like… everyone’s going to be an artist. “Artist” is going to be, you know, if you’re a human, you’re an artist. And everyone’s racing in to be an artist.

And I think for me, Creating art and being an artist was a different thing. And that’s not, what is the frequency is being resonated with now, with these new artists, and where we are in the times. And I just come from a different era. So I want no part of this. I’m not going to be an exhibiting fine artist.

I have my work, and I have digital work that I collected, but I’m putting it, you know, in… You know, again, like blue-chip legacy, really high, high price tag for someone’s, who’s interested in collecting and seeing the history of art and how it transcended over this. My work will be available, but I’m not exhibiting as a fine artist anymore.

I’ve said, I had to say, and as you know, this myth of like, as an artist, like, you make art, then you die, right? And after you’re dead, then we’ll take time to look at your work. And then we’ll see what it’s about. And then we’ll celebrate you and all your, you know, from your estate and your future ancestors can benefit from your wealth.

Like, Nope, I’m not interested in that at all. Like I’m done. I said what I had to say, and if anyone wants to talk about it while I’m alive, we can do that. And I’m also changing the paradigm, where I’m a living artists, but I’m not signing any, I won’t be creating any new work as Rah Crawford.

So in that sense, the work has ended. So we can talk about it, and those that collect it can receive value from that moment, but I won’t be creating any more work as an exhibiting fine artist with my name.

[00:23:59] Roberta: So what, name are you, at World Owned, putting out? Or, whatever the platform that you’re on for your NFTs- what is your artist name, or your NFT name?

[00:24:10] Rah Crawford: Oh no, it’s Rah Crawford. But December 11th– which is very soon– 2021, I won’t be creating any new work, you know… anymore.

[00:24:20] Roberta: No NFTs?

[00:24:21] Rah Crawford: Nope. Nope. That’d be, I’m actually using the technology to retire, which is the first time that’s been done, you know?

So you have this technology where you have all of these emerging artists are coming out of it, and they’re birthing their careers; I’m using the technology to actually end my career. And so… Yeah, so I think that’s special and I’m in a unique position to be able to do that based on my history. And these emerging artists won’t be able to do- they’re just getting started.

So I just say to them, we’ll see what that looks like in 15, 20 years… if you’re still making art, what that looks like, and if you’re still holding true to your vision in 20 years. So they’re just getting started. They’re like, you know, if anything, a year in.

So congrats to them, but that’s just a, that’s just a different, I’m just doing something different. That’s not my, that’s not my league (laughs)

[00:25:06] Roberta: Well you’re, teaching this aren’t you?

[00:25:09] Rah Crawford: Yes, I’m teaching abstract creativity and design. Yes, I’m working at a school in the Lower East Side called Essex Street Academy. I’ve been working with them, actually, for about four years now. It’s not every day, it’s like a special, unique class. I work with students, teaching them about concepts of design, and like these young… young students, you know? Teaching about art, you know, theoretically, and how to think abstract, and how to question things, and how to create from a center.

Cause I also feel like creatively, like art has gotten to this thing where you pick a thing, or perform ideas like this, and it started from Warhol, right? You grab a thing that we all know. Let’s say it’s the Simpsons, right? Mickey Mouse. We all know Mickey Mouse. So you take Mickey Mouse, you change the head, and there you go. There’s my artwork. Right? You take the Simpsons, change, the ears seem to feet. And it’s my artwork.

So we’re in this like cultural cannibalism cycle, and you see it in graffiti, and you see it in murals, and it’s everything everyone’s doing. So it’s just like… stop, you know? (laughs) I’m not into it. I’m not into it!

[00:26:10] Libby: (laughs) So, what advice would you give a young artist?

[00:26:14] Rah Crawford: To look inside! To look inside, to turn off the television, turn off social media, because everyone’s just regurgitating back to each other what everyone else is doing. Just turn it off. And like, to go, you know, go for a walk and try to find your inner voice, which is really difficult. But find your inner voice and come bring something out with that.

Hey, for example, I had a scholarship coming out of high school. Full scholarship University of the Arts. And I turned it down. Because I didn’t want to be… I mean, I’m rebellious at heart. You can… I’m sure you can tell that. I’m a contrarian, but I didn’t want anybody to teach me.

Like, art was personal. I was like, you can’t teach me how to find myself and my vision, or teach me a technique that you, that you’re gonna teach everybody else, for this amount of money. And at the end, you’re gunna give me a piece of paper and say that, you know, I did a great job. Like I don’t… I’m not interested in that.

So I try to work with the students for just, independent thinking, you know? I don’t judge their work and tell them what’s good or bad. I challenge them on if they’re thinking and if they can have a reply for the decisions that they’re making, and where it’s coming from. So that’s the main thing.

[00:27:13] Roberta: That’s amazing. I love your word smithing- cultural cannibalism cycle, and that you’re a creative pioneer. Those are great concepts and great words.

[00:27:26] Rah Crawford: Oh, thank you. Thank you. So I guess I’m still doing it (laughs)

[00:27:29] Roberta: You’re still doing It! (laughing)

[00:27:34] Libby: It changed where (laughs)

[00:27:37] Roberta: So, what are your NFTs look like? And if someone wants to go check it out, where do they go to check it out? And how much do they cost? And do you have to have Bitcoin to purchase them?

[00:27:46] Rah Crawford: Okay, so all of those answers- I’m Google-able, if you just put Rah Crawford in, like all kinds of information comes up. My website, I do a pretty good job of kind of keeping, you know, the top headlines and press releases of what’s going on, you can go through there and the artwork is broken down into the different ,you know, eras, or periods, so you can check out those.

So everything’s there. And the platform is Ethereum. So Bitcoin is just one type of cryptocurrency. There are tons of types of cryptocurrency. It can definitely be overwhelming for someone new getting into space.

But yeah, you can just go to RahCrawford.com. It has all the information. Someone can check out the work, uh, someone could even snoop around and look at work and see prices and rates and kind of how things are going on that end too.

[00:28:30] Roberta: Shopping! It’s shopping.

[00:28:32] Rah Crawford: Oh, for sure. For sure. Yeah.

[00:28:34] Libby: But this is sort of the past of what you have, what your artwork was. The present, though, is you’re in a sort of in a different field altogether.

[00:28:48] Rah Crawford: I wouldn’t call this a different field, I’m definitely the same space. Really, from my perspective, I’m doing the same thing. Like through my art, I was always searching for my own personal truth and understanding and always reaching out for that, you know? Going from acrylics to oils and growing, and…

I feel like, you know, I got to a place where I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I said what I wanted to say, and now I’m seeing, I need to… really kind of embody the roles of a teacher and a communicator now. And I feel like that is my creativity. I have various projects that have created, platforms, and intellectual property, that is still doing what I do.

It’s like questioning things, it’s teaching, it’s informing. So my art is expressed in different ways. And passing along my information to like a new generation of students is a part of that work, I feel. And seeing them create their work and find themselves and have those moments.

So I feel like it’s like a full circle. So I feel like it’s the same thing. I don’t feel like I hopped the track at all, everything’s just kind of… opened up, and I can see the horizon in a different way.

[00:29:49] Roberta: That is very Zen. I love it.

[00:29:51] Libby: Yeah. Wow. Well, that is an amazing take on where the art world is going. (Or not).

[00:30:03] Rah Crawford: Yeah. Yeah, it’s there. It’s there. Definitely check it out, check out, look up NFTs, see things that are going on. Check out some of the headlines and the big sales. But yeah, we are there. It’s a new world. It’s a new day. (laughs)

[00:30:19] Roberta: Is there anything else you’d like to touch on that we haven’t touched on?

[00:30:24] Rah Crawford: Hmm. I would say about, just, the myth, right? Just sort of the myth of the artist’s way, and this myth of the artist path. Like I said, you know, the idea was like, if you’re an artist, you know, you make your art and then you… die.

I feel like, you know, just everything like post-COVID, things have changed again with social causes, things like… We’re evolving. Art, too, has to evolve. The conversations around it have to evolve. How we move forward with it, has to evolve.

And I think a part of this, again, me kind of retiring as an exhibiting fine artist is part of the evolution. And then bringing that thing into question of what it means to be an artist. And what does retirement look like, and what does the future look like? I’ll always be a creative. That’s why I’m saying a creative pioneer, but I think an artist is a self reflecting kind of individual?

And as a creative pioneer, I see it more as, the arrows are pointed the other way. Not necessarily at me, but they’re pointed out into the world, and literally kind of like laying a hand on the world and the environment and changing things that way versus like an internal retrospection of who I am and finding out who I am, you know?

[00:31:33] Roberta: That’s a great way to put it. I love the arrows analogy.

[00:31:39] Rah Crawford: Yeah, but I’m excited. I’m really excited about things to come and there are pros and cons of course, with this new technology, but a new day is here and I’m excited and feel blessed to be here and to be a part of it. And I look forward to the days ahead.

[00:31:55] Libby: Can I… I have a last question. I have to ask. So… can I hang one of these things on my wall?

[00:32:03] Rah Crawford: Well what’s happening right now is you have digital galleries. So what’s also coming, in with some galleries, you have some galleries that are just NFT galleries. So instead of canvases, there will be digital frames. You know, and this is a new technology. So soon you’re going to see Sony, you’re going to see Apple, you’re gonna see all these companies coming out with these really simple, lightweight, probably digital frames or projectors.

It’s easy to sit on your wall, you know, and they’ll probably be super small, probably, you know probably the size of, I don’t know, like a business card or something where you can probably sit on your wall and it’ll project, a full image and the benefits of that, you can scroll through your phone and probably hit a button and have your whole collection of all your artwork, you know, displayed anywhere you want in your home or gallery. Digitally, versus having to, you know, carry canvases and strip down canvases.

I remember my first exhibition I had in Amsterdam, I had to literally strip down every single canvas (laugh) and break down everything and take them across the Atlantic and reassemble everything, which was insane.

[00:33:02] Libby: No more holes in the wall.

[00:33:07] Rah Crawford: (laughs) No, no more holes in the wall.

[00:33:11] Roberta: Okay, well, I’m going to say thank you, this has been a fantastic conversation. And thank you Libby for being here and jump-starting the questions, really great questions.

. Thank you, Rah and good luck with your new adventures, and keep growing, and keep teaching, and listening. And thank you everyone for listening to this episode of Artblog Radio.

And come back for more, anytime. Bye bye.

[00:33:43] Rah Crawford: Thank you. Bye bye.

Tags

Abstract Learning, Bitcoin, Bushwick Film Festival, christie's, creativity, cryptoartist, cryptocurrency, digital art, dot com boom, e, Ethereum, metaverse, MoCDA, Museum of Contemporary Digital Art, neo now era, NFT, NFT galleries, Phillips, rah crawford, sotheby's, ssex Street Academy, SuperRare, web 3.0, World Owned

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