We had the good fortune of connecting with CraigThe2nd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi CraigThe2nd, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Yo good question! I would say, beside deciding to work for myself, the single most important decision I had to make on this path that contributed to my success, was making the intense decision to commit. I know, sounds like it would be extremely easy to say “I am going to invest everything that I have into my dream”… I am here to speak the truth, it is not easy, in fact it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Everyone told me in my earlier years (18yrs-20yrs) when going about my business endeavors to make some sort of plan B for which if plan A (my dream) crashes into oblivion I have a safety net to rely on; heeding the warning, and concerned for my future, I juggled art and music (my business) alongside a college degree, multiple jobs, and forever looking on indeed for the next corporate venture. I was scared when I graduated college with my 2D-animation degree, bright eyed to the world, I struggled to make sense of my calling and societal comfort and where the balance needed to be. I ended up making a website that only displayed my animations and graphic designs excluding my musical portfolio, (which I thought scared corporate people); going to art galleries with only my “up to standard” artwork and still didn’t want to display my music merch, and decided at the time to only invest in getting a nice suit and tie job. Right? I mean I need a backup in case no one likes my work and pushes my stand over in disgust. Wrong! This played out for years, I was scared of the unknown which is exhausting, and I only ended up getting rejections and failures within my corporate & personal journey. I was doing too much. My art and music didn’t feel right because I felt like it needed to still maintain a “up to standard” corporate outlook. I needed this plan B, eventually I had enough being something I am not. Let us be realistic, I am an African-American male with dreads, tattoos, and a seemingly dangerous appetite for rebellion/higher consciousness. Nothing that would get a stamp of approval on a resume when handed to an office full of middle aged white males with a-lot to lose in their empire. It hurt really, the realization took years, but it made me stronger and only contributed to my success when I finally said…f*!k it. What’s a plan B if plan A never was fully attempted? I deleted all the suit and tie stuff on my website and social media, and I uploaded the true CraigThe2nd onto everything. I stopped worrying about plan b and said plan A will work. This mentally is difficult for most to understand, but if you the reader might be going through a similar issue please trust me, you’ll become a better salesman, and way happier if you decide to trust the process rather than to doubt yourself with societal nonsense. This new found self identity has made my business refreshingly more personal and authentic, and instead of playing two roles to satisfy two separate paths I embraced the one that is holistically me. this was very important indeed, good question!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Oh, I am super excited to finally get enough space! I’ve been nomadic for most of my fundamental years starting my brand and I am going to finally settle into an area where I can finally create a stationary studio. I plan to study musical production, engineering, painting, and animation more after I move in. I want to transcend/blend the ideas of hip-hop and expressionistic/visionary art in a way that has never been done before. It’s going to be a sight to see my friends! What can I say about my art… Well I want to say first and foremost that I am a musician/visual artist, but I would want the world to eventually realize that these two passions are not separate to me, in-fact, they are the same in my eyes and I want that unison to be understood from the globe. I am a highly inspired multi-disciplined artist who holds no bounds, so I avoid “boxes” or “labels” if you will. I want my journey to show that creativity isn’t something that needs to be so defined and that it is through the sense of freedom do you get any form of creativity. With that being said, I am just simply an artist that ventures through visual and audio forms, because that is what speaks to me the most; I believe that this mindset is what sets me apart from your usual everyday artist who study one thing, I instead seek to unify and express two forms of art that I equally studied diligently about rather then to represent them as two different unique passions that need separate businesses. I am proud of what I’ve been able to do lately and excited to show everyone how if I release an experimental rap album expect the cover art, visuals, music videos, merchandise, and promotion to be done uniquely by me with the help of other artistic collaborators which is going to make for a very artistic experience. Though this all might be the case, I definitely struggled with Finding balance and drawing the line on my creativity, but I overcame the challenge through a lot of self evaluation and failure. To make an incredibly long story short, It took a lot of rinse and repeat, trial and error, and adjustments before I fine tune my artistic vision in a way that made sense to civilization and even myself haha. On this path I learned some very valuable lessons, I’ll share one big one. What comes to mind without a doubt is that everything stems from self, meaning your spiritual/inner being must be at a place of stability before you will ever see the true fruits of all of your labor. I struggled with being too hard on myself, staying up late every night writing music, sketching, freestyling, studying marketing and advertising etc. Literally all of the time. All of this mattered, of course, but me being so focused on the end result made me ungrateful for what I already accomplished making me a goal junky who was never satisfied with any result. I also was painfully blind to my souls current status which including a lot of unsolved trauma and demons that accrued naturally from living my human experience; I needed to slow-down in order to take the necessary time to evaluate who and what I am making of myself and what type of legacy am I leaving behind. I could be the greatest artist in the world, but at what cost? the relationship of my family? friends? body? mind? All of these are to be considered when one decides to be successful. Choosing to take the time to reflect on self, directly affects one’s energetic output. The moment that I revisited myself and challenged my demons I gratified my journey by recognizing the manifestations that have already come. I profoundly grew as a person and as an artist, because they are one in the same. Trippy, be aware my friends this is an important life lesson.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definitely visit Sante Fe drive for some local Denver art, and music assuming it’d be a first-friday where the strip has a bunch of open galleries. Inner-city Denver is a quick zip from Sante Fe dr where you guys gotta grab some “Cheba-Hut” for dinner, I love that place man, best sandies around!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Yes! I would be very honored to shout out the city of Denver first and foremost for all of the beautiful support! With so many faces and names I feel like it is safe to say the whole state has contributed to my success. Many thanks to you all, I love you, you know who you are! I also would like to shoutout Nina Stewart, my girlfriend who has helped me through a lot of spiritual challenges this past year, she has influenced much of my art and music recently. Oh, and shout out CraigTheFirst and my mother Tamatha Coatney for guiding me through this divine challenge called life. Very grateful for everything, even this opportunity to have my voice be heard, so thanks to you all as-well.
OTO PHOTOGRAPHY- Stevie Selby