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Albert Cleophus Willis: 2021 Not Real Art Grant Winner
Episode 15314th December 2021 • Not Real Art • Crewest Studio
00:00:00 01:02:46

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Welcome to the final installment of our interview series with the 2021 NRA grant winners! Albert Willis, AKA ‘Cleophus’, has actually been on the show before, but now he is a grant winner, so he is back again to share more about his creative process, thoughts on the art world, and approach to being a professional artist. Albert makes what he calls “shadow art”; beautifully intricate and complex pieces where 3D word sculptures become canvases overlaid with hyperrealistic portraiture. We talk about the dichotomy between high and so-called low art and why Albert sees himself as more of an artisan than a fine artist in the snobbish sense of the word. Albert speaks about his love of mathematics and geometry and shares the thought process behind the works he makes today. We get into the business of art and hear about how Albert’s background as a graphic designer and illustrator informs the way he charges for his work. Our conversation also touches on how cryptocurrency is forging a new art industry that could shift money away from institutions and back into the hands of artists. So for a conversation holding as much complexity as one of Alberts's great pieces, tune in today! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Albert’s feelings about having won an NRA grant and the state of the art world currently.
  • ‘High art' versus creative expression: Albert’s thoughts on the ‘Not Real Art’ title.
  • Albert’s love of the craft of art and why he has never considered himself part of the art world.
  • How big of an industry commercial art is while so many artists starve on the fringes.
  • The genius of Black creative expression which has been capitalized on by white people.
  • Valuable lessons from art school around materials, methods, and ‘seeing’.
  • Albert’s love for geometry and maths and how it influences the art he makes.
  • How Albert came up with his “Shadow Art” incorporating 3D word sculptures overlaid with imagery.
  • Albert’s method for pricing his work using knowledge gained from his commercial experience.
  • Why artists should incorporate the time they have spent training into their pricing structures.
  • How NFTs and cryptocurrency are shifting up the way art is brought, displayed, transported, and traded.
  • Albert’s thoughts about how he can keep pushing Shadow Art and the way he uses words.
  • The art, knowledge, and inventiveness that have been erased from history books by colonizers.
  • Why Albert came up with the Cleophus nickname when he went back to art school.

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