Let’s Talk

Creative Control: The Mobile Curator

So over the past few years we’ve been doing an experiment of sorts. I’d say about 90 to 95% of our content is created on a mobile device. Ok, so I guess to give some context I should explain. When we started ¡Fresh Aesthetic!™, the idea was to create a platform we could update and maintain from anywhere. We thought the best way to do this was to use the one thing we always have and always use. These little smart computers we make calls on might be enough to pull it off.

We say this a lot, but the world is at our fingertips. No matter where you are or who you are, you can reach the world. That’s why mobile curation is more important than ever. It’s a game of control. Who controls the content and who controls what the public sees. As a creative/curator we are in a constant this struggle for influence. The changing of the guard is happening as I type this. The closest analogy I can think of is the legal cannabis industry. It’s still evolving and because it’s so new there are all these players competing for their place in the market. The parallels are seen in YouTubing as well as podcasting. Investors always express the importance of “getting in on the ground floor.” Well this is as close to the ground floor as we’re going to get.

Just like any other industry, the corporate machine is also vying for it’s place as well. Podcasts have been heavily invested in by Spotify, and we all know who owns YouTube. To touch back on the legal cannabis industry it’s very much more of the same. So… Is it about competing with them? Unless your pockets are hella deep I’d have to advise against it (lol). What we can do however is use it all, both the corporate machines, and the computing machines we carry everyday. Use them to make our voices valid and relevant.  The content creators now have value, and it’s the content you curate that articulates that value. We have power in today’s market. Don’t let the money machine take it away.

 

Artist Q&A: Camargo Valentino

There is this common misconception of what an artist is supposed to be. This romanticized ideal of the creative as this enigmatic person that lives misunderstood and rejected by society. Yet somehow this hero of creativity is stilll embraced by the creative world. Now I’m not saying that artists like this don’t exist. I’m more so saying that more often than none the artist is just a normal person. A person with an inclination to create. Camargo Valentino is to me perhaps both. Talented af, misunderstood by the mainstream, and yet one of us. Just a person trying to make sense of this fucked up hypocritical world we live in. Who just so happens to make very captivating works of art. 

Ok maybe captivating isn’t the right word.  Camargo Velentio’s work to me is much more than captivating. It’s a poignant and definitive expression of the attitudes of the west. The juxtaposition of the classic styles he’s studied, and the pop icons he references are stark reminders of America’s contradictions. The very figures we place so much stake in are used to show us exactly where our falasies lie. In works like the “The death of America” it is not America that is dying but rather the ideals of what America is that is reaching its demise. The old guard is conceding and sacrificing themselves for our salvation. So to speak of course. A stark reminder that times are changing.

Art for beauties sake is a great and a necessary contribution to the culture, but it’s the messages that last. The work that speaks to the times. It’s that work that is ironically timeless. “Nothing is new under the sun” after all. Those who do not study history, yada yada yada…. I could quote old literature forever, but that’s not what we’re here for. Times change and new perspectives emerge. Relevant and fresh, speaking to the times. I honestly believe Camargro is one of those people. The fortunate ones. A person who effortlessly just tuned in and can say what we have been dying to say, but in a way that only he can. At the end of the day all we can do is shed light on talent. We just hope you see what we see.

Enjoy.

I think most artists are students first. So as student, what lessons do you get from who you’ve studied?
As a self taught artist, the majority of what I have learned has come from copying artists which style I admired. I can’t say that I have learned anything from let’s say “Velasquez” . I am no where as good as any masters but I have tried to mimic them to the best of my ability. I feel like I have so much to learn.


Also is there anything you are trying to teach?
No, more like I’m trying to learn.

It seems like you take a few cues from classic artists like Rembrandt and Caravaggio in your paintings. Are your interpretations of those cues satirical, or for more of a social commentary?
Both. Some paintings are done just for fun, just to paint. Others have social commentary. Ex. “The Death of America” was inspired by classical works of Christ on the cross but my commentary on this painting is the collapse of American society today and on how we are so divided as a country.


To me the pop icons you use add an aire of humanness to these characters, and hidden behind that is this sinister feeling. Is that point or is it more just you using figures that you somehow relate to?
It is not my intention to make the figures I use in my paintings come across as sinister or dark. Many people say this, but I believe these feelings come because of the colors I use. I am attracted to the chiaroscuro style of light surrounded by darkness. As we all know, many people fear dark landscapes which is why I think they feel this when looking at my work. As far as the figures are concerned, I grew up as an 80s kid which is why I believe I am so attracted to cartoons, comics, and pop culture and why I use them in my paintings.

What artists do you find yourself most drawn to (no pun intended)?
Mostly traditional classical artists narrative themes. Deigo Velazquez, Antonio Mancini, Caravaggio, Jusepe de Ribera, modern, and contemporary artists like Odd Nerdrum, Normal Rockwell, John Currin, and Aron Wiesenfeld. Artists that use the figure to tell a story.

In what way would you say they inspired you?
I am attracted to technique and feeling combined which they all have. It is not enough to be a good painter. The work has to pull you in and make you look. It needs to make you ask yourself “what is going on here?”. There are many great painters out there today but most paintings do not say anything besides I’m a good technical painter.

Would you say that your work is a reflection of you or of view of society?
Both. Every painting I do was inspired by something I was interested in at that moment. Some more serious then others. Sometimes a work is based on a character I am interested in at the moment, other times the way I feel inside, and others based on current events.

Art can be a very personal thing. How personal is it to you (feel free to elaborate)?
I consider myself a bit of an activist artist. I recently have felt the need to speak up more because of the current issues we face in America. Like I mentioned before, growing up an 80s kid has to do with the characters in my paintings along with the fact that I wasn’t quite able to enjoy my childhood as much as I would have loved to. It’s been said that I make up for that void by regressing to that time in my childhood with these characters in my paintings.

Any plans for the future or do you just create and let the chips fall where they may?
I have all the dreams of any serious artist. I want to be able to join a well known gallery and let the art world see and know my work. Unfortunately I have not done my part in putting my art out there to let it be discovered. It is my intention to do that starting now. I create for myself, but serious artists cannot be successful in the art wold without recognition today so I plan to start showing in as many places as possible. Hopefully making this dream a reality.

If you had to choose an emotion that was evoked from your work, what would that emotion be?
Curiosity. I would like people to like my work enough where they have curiosity to find out more about the artist and what the artwork means. Like how you did. I thank you for reaching out to me. It means a lot.

Any advice for other artists?
The only thing I can say is study the artists you like and practice practice practice. That is how everyone who has ever learned got better, by doing it.

Random Record Review: “Snubnose” by Grip

The Gram. That’s where I saw this picture with the parental advisory logo in the bottom left corner, but man fuck that logo. That gun. That snub nose was jarring against that red back ground. It demands your attention. I had heard of him before, but that picture got me. Complex named him best new artist of the month last year around may, but you know how that is. Its not that you didn’t notice him. It’s just you know, complex. It’s hard to take them seriously sometimes. Them and their Everyday Struggles to stay relevant… This cover though. It caught my attention. So much so that I had no choice but to listen. In short, the kid is nice. Just as jarring as the cover. The album is raw, but nice. If that makes sense.

Real is rare and to feel it in the bars is even more so these days. Very Atlanta, but as diverse as Atlanta, his sound is not regional. It fits in the current climate. Polished and grimy. I need to do my research but I think he may be a young branch of The Dungeon Family. The Big Rube track kinda convinced me. It’s like Cool Breeze and Witch Doctor did trap. I know, I know… Who? It might sound wild, but that’s what I heard in the first 5 or so tracks. It works though. Glad to see flavors like these thriving in this climate.

Old heads usually have this opinion when times change and they can’t keep up. The “it was better in my day” attitude. The “Street knowledge… Nigganomics!…” is not a generational anomaly though. That whole I remember the old days, back when attitude we all know so well tries hard to prevail, but is not valid at all. Thing are just different, not better or worse.

It all changes, but it stays the same. I like the changes though. It creates anomalies like the vivid picture that’s painted behind that cover. Tracks like “Bishop Speaks… Matter” and “No Info” tell the familiar story almost in jest. I’m from a place where lives do not matter… echos eerily on a base heavy beat that reminds you exactly where you are. That familiar place you don’t wanna go. I guess I’m different cause sometimes I wanna go back. Grip‘s a great tour guide after all.

So I decided to go back and give his earlier projects a listen. Grip‘s got a solid catalog, but Snubnose is definitely the stand out project. Probably the longest actually. It’s put together well though. A thoughtful and thought provoking album that hits alot different than what you’re used to. I think no matter what you’ll be impressed. The kid’s got flavors. With a flow that will demand your attention like the first sight of that .38. Definitely someone that we will be keeping our eye on. He’s coming out hard (pause) and we like it.

The Kid’s Got A Story To Tell: Jaylen Pigford

It’s safe to say that we stumble on what we would consider great artists quite often. Talented and complex, with an ability to capture an expanse of emotion in their work. Yes Jaylen Pigford is that for sure, but he’s also a story teller. A young man coming into his own with so much to share. Documenting a story being lived, and the growth along the way. Showing us on his story on canvas. Honest and up front. It’s on display for your parousal. He is most definitely a rare individual amongst his peers. Though they all share the same urge to be appreciated, maybe even understood.

However Jaylen like alot of us feels misunderstood. Still, the kid with the heart and the cherry red vans has a story to tell. Born to stand out, he does it so eloquently with his paint brush. Faces have of course been changed to protect the innocent but the story he paints is largely autobiographical. Telling the tales of friendship, and heartbreak. Being honest in his own way, he shows you his thoughts. Yet when you see them, you are free to come to your own conclusions.

I think he gets it. For such a young man, he may just get what this whole creative thing is all about. Honest expression. Let the chips fall where they may, but be honest.

Skulls are often a symbol of mortality or death, but I don’t think that’s not Jaylen’s intentions. The depictions in his work are more homages than obituaries. He wants to more so immortalize his subjects and give them the freedom of anonymity. In that anonymity the audience gets to decide who those skulls represent to them. The faceless are given a face not by Jaylen but by his audience. For the audience, conversations can then be had and perspectives shared anonymously.

Fuck the glaring eyes and the judgements from our pasts that can hinder progress. Channel that shit into digestible works to be admired, even related to. I mean who can really understand unless you’ve lived it. Then again you may not even see it the way “I” did. So appreciate this piece of me that’s on this canvas. We talked alot about his intentions once he decides a painting is done, but mostly his goal to leave what the piece means to his audience. Like lyrics to a song. The words articulate a thought, but the audience deciphers it how they choose. That’s freedom. That’s expression. That’s what we think of the work of Jaylen Pigford.

Clout & The Viral Phenomena

It’s finally happened. They’ve finally mastered profiting from fleeting moments made of memories and experiences. Or is it just me that noticed? It seems that the old adage is true. “With great power comes great responsibility,” and what most choose to do with that power is monetize the fleeting for clicks and views. All this technology in our hands and most are so deep in the forest that they forget that we dictate the landscape.

The ease and accessibility sometimes makes us take what we have in our grasp for granted. Sometimes we forget that just because it’s easy doesn’t mean its not powerful. So what the fuck does clout and going viral have to do with technology and power? Ok so hear me out first. Influence at our fingertips is what gives us the power, or atleast some of it. Clout is the illusion of power, however it is influence. No matter how temporary it is, clout is influence. Now the key is to leverage that influence (clout) into something that you the creative can benefit from. Not just in the short term but long term as well. After all it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Negative or positive, clout is influence. How do you want to be viewed? How will you leverage that clout to your advantage? How will that clout effect the public’s perception of you? Important questions that every creative should ask them selves when playing that game. People have short memories but the internet never forgets. Often our past comes back haunt us. Tweets and posts from the past resurface, and effect how you are perceived. That perception effects your rep. What seemed like a good idea for clout in the past can come back in a negative light in the future. Clout is necessary but how we use it, and how we understand it is important.

In a world that’s become so short sighted, its important to think long term. Even in regards to clout.

A Present Retrospective: Lamonte French

It’s been a few years since we last sat down with Lamonte French and it’s true what they say, time does fly. Especially if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture. That’s usually when you recognize how much someone has grown, and what they’ve overcome. Progress after all can be difficult to measure. There is no scale by which to calculate how far one has come, or to measure the trajectory of ones success. It’s only when you revisit what they have done that you really get an idea of the extent one has grown. It’s not really our job to measure that progression, but instead respect and appreciate it. We have never been in the business of speculating. It’s so much more respectful to let the artists work and philosophy speak through them. Which is why it is so important we do what it is we do. So we say our piece sure, but we also let the artist say theirs.  The only thing we can say with absolute certainty about Lamonte French is that he has been busy and focused on his future.

Last time we spoke to Lamonte it was still early in his artistic journey. Even then hearing him talk you could see his vision. You understood he had a plan and he was determined to see it through. In that regard I suppose not much has changed. Alot can be said about consistency and persistence, to stay steadfast on a path and sticking to a plan. The plan that bore fruit from almost conception. We got to hear more about his plans for the future and what he has on his itinerary. What I found more engaging was his ideas for how his style would evolve. Instead of sticking to the neo expressionism he has made his signature he plans of going past that, and I think if you are a fan of his work you will appreciate that change. Often we get so wrapped up in a specific period or phase that an artist goes through we forget to appreciate what the artist goes on to do. Everyone loves Miles Davis from his Bebop days but a lot of people overlook what we think may have been his more influential era, which is his fusion era. Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, and albums like that were equally as important to the jazz movement. Perhaps in the same way we may find that Lamonte’s growth in style has an equal importance when looking at the big picture.

Black Thought from the Roots has a bar in one of his songs (Twofifteen). “No man is an island but I’m a cast away….” is the line I believe. I mention the bar because I thought of it when Lamonte so readily gave credit to his team he put together for helping him succeed in the ways he has. It’s important to have a group of individuals we work with in this community of the arts that is often treacherous to navigate. We are all “islands” in our own right I suppose, but we can’t do it all alone. The artists life is often isolated, secluded and maybe a bit hidden from the public. When you are so engulfed in your work it helps to have a trustworthy team to help on the mission. It was refreshing to hear someone so focused and driven recognize that it’s not just his hard work, but help from others that play an equally important role.

Lamonte is still early in his career, but I’d be remiss not to show respect to what he’s accomplished in such a short period of time. Vision and persistence are traits he may have gotten from his days of being an athlete, but he has evolved and grown into an entirely new version of himself. One that expresses freely in the hopes that it reaches everyone willing to experience it. We will continue to follow his journey and we hope you do the same.

The kid is talented after all.

“You have to have a vision that you can hold on to for a long period of time…”  – Lamonte French  

The Creative vs Depression

Welp… I think it’s about time for a little honesty and vulnerability here. In that vein I can admit that my creative life has been riddled with bouts of depression. Often diluted with chemicals and escapism in its many forms. This after all is the only life I’ve ever known, and the only life I’ve ever seen creatives I’ve looked up to live. A constant battle between being genius and being defeated by life’s adversities. It would seem that sometimes the turmoil within has a greater impact than the external, and the artists life is often spent looking inward.

The life of a creative is a tough one after all. Often thankless, and the lows seem to outweigh the highs. I think the saying is art immitates life. Well in this case the creatives life more often parallels the life of the “common man.” Rightfully so since most creatives are essentially common men/women that somehow find it within themselves to convey a vision and pursue a dream. It’s that pursuit that makes them uncommon. The anomalies, the people who chose to sacrifice and endure in an already difficult existence.

It’s not that the creative is more or less depressed. It’s that being a creative almost requires some intense reflecting and introversion. That combination can force you to face the darkness within. That darkness the rest of us numb ourselves to with various distractions. The artists, musicians, and writers (and any other creatives I forgot to mention) are in a way reporters of the intangible. Of emotion and other abstract subtle concepts that are part of the human condition. The parts we run from, in alot of cases the creative has to face. On a canvas, a recording, or however they choose to create. In those mediums we sometimes face our demons.

Beauty is often created when those demons rear their heads, but the damage can be irreparable. A rapper named El-P had an album called Fantastic Damage released years ago. It’s hard to find it on some platforms, but I recommend you give it a listen. To me it’s kind of a story of triumph. Like we all endure life and all that comes with it. We are all products of some “fantastic damage,” but we persevere. Inspite of the scars & memories that burden us. Those same experiences helped mold us into the people we are. Does that mean we need to just accept the way things are and deal with them how our predecessors always have? I say no.

The old way or the way my idols seemed to deal with it all was not the way I think we should do it today. To internalize all the hurt and pain only to lash out is not the move. Whether that be creatively or in a destructive manner isn’t the way anymore. It’s time for a new way. A more productive one that let’s us grow as people. People who can still face it all and let it mold us. Yet also letting ourselves heal. Legacies of pain make for great stories but leave a path of “fantastic damage” in their wake. A path so many have followed to no avail. I dont have the solutions, but I know there’s got to be a better way.

The Creative Flow: Continued Learning and Time for Growth.

So recently we’ve been kinda low-key. Trying to figure some things out. Ok maybe not so low key. Just basically having important discussions about growth and our plans for the future. Many conversations have been had on this articles topic. You know how random conversations sometimes occur. Nothing crazy deep but just expounding on what it means to grow. So the theory is that in order to improve you can’t remain stagnant. Kinda obvious right? In one way or another challenge usually leads to improvement, or at the least some sort of insight. Now what that challenge may be? Well that’s really up to the individual more or less. In the choices we make and the environment we place ourselves. Ok, ok. Tangent done…

Still as creators\creatives we can challenge ourselves by choice in order to further broaden our respective skill sets. To quote Ginni Rometty, “Growth and comfort do not coexist.” In music we tire of bands that stay the same their whole career, and on TV we tire of onesided actors. My favorite actors tend to be the ones that play characters that seem outside their role spectrum. If that even made sense. Still all in all being stagnant or comfortable does not seem to be the formula for longevity.

Its a theme that has been on alot of the podcasts I’ve been listening to. I mean rightfully so. Especially since growth & productivity are common themes I research in my personal and professional worlds. The path to betterment encompasses it all. You cannot expect to improve without nurturing growth and development. Utilizing resources and learning new ideas can help us avoid stagnation. The only constant in life is change after all. Adapting to that change is a big part of our lives. So we ultimately decide how monotonous we want our lives to be. Stagnation is not conducive to growing as a creative or growing your brand.

No one knows it all. No one has all the answers. That being said we can still learn from others. You can’t learn from others without being a student. A student of life or a student of business, but always a student. All of the education we receive on our path help us grow and become better. Better artist, creators, and people. All of whom have an impact on the world we live in. It’s up to us to decide the lessons we will pass on and the examples we will set.

All it takes is a little learning and a little action.

Random Record Review: Show Me The Body “Dog Whistle”

Every once in a while you stumble accross something that is so pleastly jarring & different, yet slightly familiar that it makes you pay attention. Enters Show Me The Body with this sound… Very punk but very much their own gritty sound. Political but not. Angry but not. I know I know. So descriptive right? It’s hard to describe a group when you hear so many influences in their sound.

New York and that rep they have to just naturally provoke wild raw energy. Hardcore punk, experimental, and hardcore all have deep roots in NY. So when groups like Show Me The Body come along you pay attention. The energy, arrangement, and the writing. Ok sorry to nerd out but it makes for a good mix. Their earlier releases are good too but this project sounds solid. Grimey like parts of “Corpus I,” but more focused. Songs like “Now I Know” with morbid depictions of life at war. “I can see dead bodies, in the street” he says. It may seem like a cliche’ statement. I dunno. In certain genres, some of the subject matter isn’t that surprising, but this shit just hits you different. Sincere and authentic.

We’ve written about that in a couple articles. Sincerity in expression is important. I think this project is kinda timeless. I mean raw energy just doesn’t go out of style. We all relate to that raw energy. I definitely relate to this shit. A great project.

Politics & Cool

It seems as if there are these lines drawn. Certain things are regarded as cool, hip, “socially acceptable.” Sometimes words like opinion, perspective, and judgement are thrown in to send the point home. The unspoken rules and hierarchies still seem to dictate the standards of today.

Let’s be honest here. Deciding what’s really “cool” is a slippery slope. Now more than ever there is a safe space for people to maintain their individuality, but still be “cool.” Yet still, we are all products of the tribalism engrained in our society and respective subcultures. In layman’s terms. What you think is cool still might not be “cool.” There is no formula apparently. Either you are or you aren’t.

That being said, there’s still a grey area. The area of cool decided by the work you put in. The relevancy you maintain by being seen. Either online or in person all plays a part to your “cool.” As the picture implies at the top of this article. Inspite of those predisposed definitions of “cool.” We decide what is popping.

Politics or not, we influence it all.