“An artist — while developing technique and mining their experiences for style — finds meaning along the way.”

— Joshua Mays


For Black Dignity/Future Classics’ multi-drop exhibition Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams, we interviewed Joshua Mays, the first artist to drop on MakersPlace under the BDFC aegis.

To learn more about Black Dignity, Future Classics, visit the drop page and listen to our podcast interview with organizers Kirsten Magwood and Marc Bamuthi Joseph.

Brady Walker: Can you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?

Joshua Mays: Hello, my name is Joshua Mays and I’m an artist whose work includes drawings, paintings, murals, illustrations, and storytelling.

BW: What is the thought process behind making a meaningful piece of work? How do you balance a specificity of intent with subtlety or a healthy amount of ambiguity? 

JM: I think both of these questions start within.

An artist — while developing technique and mining their experiences for style — finds meaning along the way. They also get to know and trust themselves in that process. I believe that trust allows you to explore your intentions piece by piece. As for what I think you’re saying about subtlety and ambiguity, I really think it’s healthy for the artist to maintain a certain distance with how the work is received.

BW: How do you know when a piece is successful? (What are your criteria for success, and how do you assess a work in progress?)

JM: Some of my peeps have heard me repeatedly mention my spinning artist’s triangle: Inspiration to creation to exhibition. Inspiration, Creation, Exhibition. That’s artistic success, and work that emerges from this triangle is successful.

BW: Can you tell us about the piece you shared for this exhibition? What was your process for creating it, and what is the “unlockable” component?

JM: I noticed a few years ago that you can manipulate your viewing of content on YouTube with the number keys and it immediately made me think that a multi-media instrument can be created from this. I created the shifting imagery and collaborated with my sister, Jessica to design the sounds. Secrets of the Idylln (a pivotal object in the fictional city of Olgaruth) shall be unlocked with ownership of the Idylaphone NFT. I’m writing these secrets as we speak.

BW: What attracted you to the NFT market?

JM: I believe art exchanges on blockchain through NFTs are certainly going to revolutionize the way artists create, negotiate, and receive value for their work. I’m also a science/tech/future geek so engaging NFTs and the like is always a fun and interesting conversation.

BW: What does it mean to live out your ancestors’ wildest dreams? 

JM: Our ancestors weren’t monolithic. So, I’ll say I’m living out the wildest dreams of my particularly creative, inspired, and optimistic ancestors by being creative, inspired, and optimistic in the current age.

BW: What will it look like when your great-great-grandchildren live out their ancestors’ wildest dreams?

JM: For my biological offspring, I’ll point to the answer to the previous question and direct it toward my descendants.  More importantly, to my ideological offspring, the humans and artificial intelligence models that receive some effect from my work, I hope to transmit curiosity, hope, fun, and tremendous gratitude.

Watch Our Followup Interview with Joshua Mays

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