Justin Crowe: Where technology & art, bizzare & smart meet

I really like this idea of being in “technological puberty,” a time when we are processing a ton of new tools, aesthetics, languages, and feelings and that we are kind of flailing around and experimenting as best we can. It is really a creative and beautiful moment.

– Justin Crowe

Photo: Justin Crowe
Photo: Justin Crowe

Justin Crowe is an Alfred University grad and a rather interesting person. He’s writing for the ceramic blog CFileOnline.Org, he’s managing editor at DesignFaves.com, while he worked as a Self-Expression Ceramics Instructor, Art Instructor and even as a Pyrotechnician’s Assistant. He was founder and manager of a student art gallery The Attic, founder and CEO at Dizbe.com and he started some of the most interesting – some also said “bizzare” or “hilariously awful” – Kickstarter projects of all time, like “Paul, the sexiest smartphone charger on the planet.”

Thanks to the technology and the Internet, Justin’s newest project, “Selfie Arm”, collaboration with Aric Snee, became a world-wide phenomenon – as portals from Cosmopolitan to The Verge or Mashable wrote about it, and CNN broadcasted an interview about it as well.

I had a unique opportunity to talk with Justin Crowe about his art, life as an artist and things in between.

Photo: Justin Crowe
Photo: Justin Crowe

Justin, thanks again for doing this interview! I thought we should begin with “Selfie Arm” – the response is amazing! Did you expect such a huge reaction, and could you tell us more about this project?

One of the beautiful aspects of the Selfie Arm is how organically the project developed. My collaborator Aric Snee approached me with a basic idea a few months back and after drawings, conversations, and prototypes, the arm took the form you see today. It was a very fast process, which in some ways left a lot of open ends conceptually and aesthetically, but the open ends went on to be some of the most interesting aspects of the piece. We did not expect this type of public response. I thought it would get covered on some niche blogs that cover art, design, and tech, but it definitely exceeded our expectations.

 

What were some of the “open ends” that were interesting?

 

One of the most prominent aspects of the piece was how dead the arm looks. Aric and I through this was fitting and hilarious, but we didn’t realize how prominent of a visual effect it had until we began to read the comments on blogs. Its deadness was one of the biggest conversation points around the piece online.

Most of the other projects of your’s, like “Popular Twitter Hashtags Archived for Eternity on Ceramic”, “Paul, the sexiest smartphone charger on the planet” or “What the hell are we going to do with all these QR Code stop signs?” have to do something with technology, society, the future and the past. Can you explain a bit more about your relationship with technology and the message you’re conveying? You say that “we are in the midst of an awkward digital-age puberty”, and I thought this is such a great point!

 

My art points out interesting aspects of the Digital age, like the ephemerality of information in “Popular Twitter Hashtags Archived for Eternity on Ceramic” or the relationship of mobile tech and sexuality in “Paul, the sexiest smartphone charger on the planet.” These are questions that I think are worth considering as we explore this new landscape and my goal is to open a dialogue through my art.

I really like this idea of being in “technological puberty,” a time when we are processing a ton of new tools, aesthetics, languages, and feelings and that we are kind of flailing around and experimenting as best we can. It is really a creative and beautiful moment.

Photo: Justin Crowe
Paul, the sexiest smartphone charger on the planet; What the hell are we going to do with all these QR Code sop signs?; Popular Twitter Hashtags Archived for Eternity on CEramic. Photo: Justin Crowe

 

You’re a young artist (from Cleveland, OH. Living in Santa Fe, NM). Although I have seen you’ve done a lot of interesting things, I’d have to ask – is it hard (or impossible) to live from art in USA? Once I interviewed a Norwegian indie musician, who told me he felt lucky that there are many systems for support for young artists in Scandinavia. Here in Serbia, there are hardly any. How’s the situation there where you live, and what are your experiences?

I think successfully making a living on art depends massively on your location, cost of living, personality, and type of work you make (among a bunch of other variables). I tried to make a living on my art for a while and I found myself making what sold, not what I wanted, and this was not a comprise I was willing to make. I currently work as a writer to fund my art, and this has been a really great formula for me. I like this quote by artist Paulus Benson – “Art is not a way of making a living, it’s a way of making a life.” Something I think about often.

Do you have some recommendations or tips for the young artists here?

Make as much art as you can and show it to as many people as you can. Make what your passionate about and don’t compromise.

If you would have to choose one of your art projects as especially dear or important for you, which one would you chose?

I had the most fun with the “Paul” smartphone charger project. This was a pretty major production to put on, from the making of the actual object, to the video, to the press, and to see it all come together and successfully reach an audience was exciting. The Paul project pushed me in my recent direction of “art disguised as design” and the online presentation being a key element to the final work – two ideas I want to explore further.

For the end, do you have some plans you’d like to share? I wish you the best of luck anyway, and thanks again for the interview!

I have a couple exciting projects in-process, but I am not going to share them quite yet. Something to look for on the next 6 months… Thanks for the interview!


This interview was written for and originally published on the Poglednica portal in May 2015.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply