Twisting Expectations with Art

Shoptalk Radio Ep. 85


Since I’ve started making work it always feels like whatever idea I’m delving into in the present is the last good idea.

Art is all about people’s expectations. Some artists represent the world as it is, and some artists have a goal of manipulating that representation. Daniel Arsham aims to do just that with his futuristic artwork, which ranges from large scale architectural pieces, to castings made of ash, to paintings, and more.

I recently discovered Daniel’s art through my friend Usher, and he does some truly amazing work. He has shown his work all around the world at places like the MoMA PS1 and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami. Daniel has begun using his art for social justice, which I think is really awesome. He also created the architecture firm Snarkitecture, as well as a film production company called Film the Future.

In my conversation with Daniel we talk about how he started his own exhibition space to catalyze his career, how he started making money with his art, and what his experimentation process is like. Listen in to hear more about his use of lucid dreaming, the effects of his colorblindness on his art, and the power of social media for artists.

I’ve always liked a feeling in my work that it can float in time.

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • How he started his own exhibition space [4:00]
  • His transition from photography to other art forms [5:10]
  • What happened when Dior commissioned a piece [6:05]
  • How he started making money with his art [8:20]
  • What his experimentation process is like [12:30]
  • The effect of colorblindness on his work [13:50]
  • How he creates collections [17:00]
  • Why he has been using lucid dreaming [19:00]
  • Why he didn’t used to include people in his work [23:40]
  • What have been his biggest fears as an artist [27:10]
  • His exploration into film [30:00]
  • How he balances his creative life with his personal life [32:45]
  • What his morning routine is like [34:15]
  • How he’s collaborating with Usher [37:20]
  • His thoughts on whether art can change the world [40:45]
  • The power of social media for artists [44:05]

Links mentioned:

Connect with Daniel Instagram | Twitter | Website


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Nick Onken is a photographer, author, and creative entrepreneur. In SHOPTALKradio he dives underneath the hood and into the mind of successful creative entrepreneurs, brilliant business minds, and other highly influential personalities. Discover how to make a living with your art, create your own creative lifestyle, and push past the fears that hold you back. Listen in to get inspired and unlock you inner creative.

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