Creativity for Sale Podcast - Episode S1 E9

Happiness as a key to a successful life and business - Craig Black

Mon, 04 Mar 2024

"Happiness is key to a successful life and business. Having that solid grounding is so important for me personally."Craig Black takes us behind the scenes of his inspiring creative journey - from professional soccer player to graphic designer to world-renowned acrylic pouring artist.In this candid conversation with creativity guru Radim Malinic, Craig shares the intentional mindset and focused work ethic that led him to find immense success on his own terms.Though Craig hit a high point designing the iconic typeface for his hometown soccer club Glasgow Rangers FC, he knew it was time to evolve. From honing his craft in secret to launching his acrylic fusion pieces in a strategic campaign timed with the World Cup, Craig progressed with purpose.Now a sought-after visual artist collaborating with massive brands, Craig remains grounded. He discusses getting in the zone during live pouring performances, always pushing his acrylic art to new levels, and building a flexible lifestyle business with his wife.Key Takeaways:Success takes years of intentional development and discipline behind the scenes. Put in your 10,000 hours!When you wholeheartedly believe in yourself, others will too. Be your own biggest cheerleader.Evolve your craft before external forces push you. Move onto new creative challenges on your own terms.Tunnel vision focus unlocks flow states, whether on a soccer pitch or pouring acrylics. Zero in on the task at hand.Build a lifestyle business that allows creativity and family to flourish together. Stay grounded in what matters most.Creativity For Sale: How to start and grow a life-changing creative career and business by Radim Malinic - Out now. Paperback and Kindlehttps://amzn.to/4biTwFcFree audiobook (with Audible trial)https://geni.us/8r2eSAQSigned Bookshttps://novemberuniverse.co.uk

 
  
  
Show Notes Transcript

"Happiness is key to a successful life and business. Having that solid grounding is so important for me personally."

Craig Black takes us behind the scenes of his inspiring creative journey - from professional soccer player to graphic designer to world-renowned acrylic pouring artist.

In this candid conversation with creativity guru Radim Malinic, Craig shares the intentional mindset and focused work ethic that led him to find immense success on his own terms.

Though Craig hit a high point designing the iconic typeface for his hometown soccer club Glasgow Rangers FC, he knew it was time to evolve. From honing his craft in secret to launching his acrylic fusion pieces in a strategic campaign timed with the World Cup, Craig progressed with purpose.

Now a sought-after visual artist collaborating with massive brands, Craig remains grounded. He discusses getting in the zone during live pouring performances, always pushing his acrylic art to new levels, and building a flexible lifestyle business with his wife.

Key Takeaways:

  • Success takes years of intentional development and discipline behind the scenes. Put in your 10,000 hours!
  • When you wholeheartedly believe in yourself, others will too. Be your own biggest cheerleader.
  • Evolve your craft before external forces push you. Move onto new creative challenges on your own terms.
  • Tunnel vision focus unlocks flow states, whether on a soccer pitch or pouring acrylics. Zero in on the task at hand.
  • Build a lifestyle business that allows creativity and family to flourish together. Stay grounded in what matters most.


Creativity For Sale: How to start and grow a life-changing creative career and business by Radim Malinic - Out now.

Paperback and Kindle
https://amzn.to/4biTwFc

Free audiobook (with Audible trial)
https://geni.us/8r2eSAQ

Signed Books
https://novemberuniverse.co.uk

Craig Black:

you give all out, you'll get such a positive response, whether it's one person or a hundred thousand people, it doesn't really matter because one thing, you're building up that self-confidence within yourself. And that's such a powerful tool. And I think people always, people have to look outside to gain confidence whether they should be looking inside.'cause that's the biggest tool, biggest power you could ever have, is that innate and self-belief. And that's, what I've had. And I think that's what I, to be honest, a huge driver for why everything has happened the way it is. It's just that constant striving for positivity in, making things happen. And

Radim:

Hello and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast, a show to help you start and grow your life changing creative career and business. My name is Radim Malinich and creativity changed my life. You see, I believe creativity can change your life too. I even wrote a book about it and it inspired this podcast. I've set out to interview the world's most brilliant creatives, designers, writers, musicians, makers and marketeers about their life changing experiences with creativity. If you ever wanted to know how people go from their humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their success, our conversation should provide you with an intimate look into triumphs, challenges and untold stories behind their creative endeavours. We also discuss the highs and lows of creative careers and creative life. So Thank you for joining me on this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all. Let creativity change your life. Are you ready? Hi Greg, welcome to the Creativity for Sale podcast. How are you doing today?

Craig Black:

I'm good. Thank you. another busy day in the studio. to be speaking to you, mate. It's been a while.

Radim:

Yeah, we've been trying to make any for a while and I haven't seen you in person for a while

Craig Black:

I know

Radim:

and Yeah, I thought about you, in a good way. As I was proof listening, the audio book for Creativity for Sale, and there a section on, no such thing as an overnight success, and it made me think about how long did it take for you to get to where you are today, the thing that you've got today, how long did it take to get to it?

Craig Black:

funny enough, I got a text message from four people that I graduated with, and it was 10 years ago today that I actually graduated from graphic design college. That was it. and then the story goes that when I graduated, I went to London and I worked for two and a half years with agencies. But in the background, I always want to do my own agency or I wanted to specialize in typography and lettering. background, those two and a half years, I was like. Evenings, weekends, practicing my craft. no one knew I was doing this. I was in the background, just crafting away, building up and building up. And then after two and a half years and getting sick and tired of agency life, I was like, I'm gonna go out on morning and just go for it. lack of knowledge and that lack of business sense, lack of money, but somehow in some form through determination, focus, discipline, I, made it work. And, I had a career for, I think it was five or six years running my studio as a typography in, ING artist. And I got to work with some of the biggest brands across the world, creating amazing word marks and lettering compositions. And it was super tough. It was super tough learned. I, I was reading a book recently and now the, you learn from your failures, you as much as someone can write a book and tell you Don't do this, don't do this. It's not until you do it and you go, ah, shit. I'll never do that again. And I learned the hard way. And I'm so glad it happened because I learned so much from it and I've never done those mistakes again. But then after those six years, I basically come to a point in terms of typography, where I accomplished my dream typographic project, which was creating the typeface for my boyhood football club, which was Rangers Football Club up here in Scotland was a dream come true. and I put my heart and soul into that project that was everything to me, everything to my family, friends, everybody. So when I accomplished that, and it was well received. It was game over in terms of type. There was nothing I wanted to do anymore. funny enough, I had offers from Premier League clubs, LA Liga clubs, but had zero interest. it was all for me to evolve as a creative. And it was a pinnacle time actually, because my daughter was born and we have a two bedroom flat apartment. So I was working from the spare bedroom and then when she was born, she took over that spare bedroom and I had to find a new place to work. So it was one of those moments that I get an office or to go find a studio where I could throw paint about. Now, the reason for that full paint about was two years prior to that moment of what to do next. I started to develop the idea of becoming a visual artist. Way back when I was a kid, I've always wanted to become an artist. Even when I was in doing graphic design, all I wanted to do was become an artist, but I knew I had to build a brand. I had to find out what that thing was that I wanted to do as an artist and I didn't know yet. And the funny, weird thing that happened was going back nearly, what, six years ago now? Maybe five. my wife Ali comes home one day and she's got these crazy gym leggings on. And they've got this crazy pattern on them, which looked like acrylic fusion. She walks in the door, she had this crazy pattern and my head, the creative cogs were going in my head and I thought, how does someone create that pattern? I went to YouTube, typed in paint mix and paint pouring. You know how you watch one video lead to another video? and I literally ran out house went to a store, bought acrylic paints and all that stuff, brought a little canvas and I thought, I'm going, this now. And I created this, my very first piece of acrylic fusion artwork, and I instantly hooked. And I knew from that moment, I was like, is what's gonna change my life. This is what I'm gonna do. But I didn't, from that moment, I was going back to my previous knowledge of two years of practicing in the dark, if you want to call it that, ev weekends and, evenings, that's what I did with Acry Fusion. two years of just practicing, making sure when that time came that I was gonna launch the world. Here I am, I'm, I'm a visual artist, I'm ready because I wanted to make sure that, one, I was creditable in what I was doing. But also when a challenger comes, like, rather than going, oh fuck, I'm gonna just have to figure this out, having a bit of gravitas and going, I have a confidence to go ahead and I can do this kind of thing. Still to this day, there's project to come in. I'm I have no idea what I'm doing. But having that two years of confidence in practicing made a huge, to me and a huge confidence as well. And then now, three years ago when I launched a visual artist, my whole life changed, to be honest. Um, it all started off a self-initiated project as well. We've spoke, spoke about this, but in the past, how important that is, self-initiative projects. So when I ended the typographic game, everyone was like, why would you be doing that? You're at the peak of what you're doing. And I'm like, no, that's a perfect time for me to leave and evolve. then as I stepped into a visual artist, no one knew. Honestly, the only person who knew was Ali. and I've always relied on self-initiated work to get commercial projects in the door over the past six years as a type of graphic artist. Scotland's national football team, qualified for the Euros, which is first time in 22 years. So a lot of heart rate for a lot of Scottish people. But I was so excited about it, and I wanted to celebrate that as, artist. I thought, how cool would it be to do acrylic fusion on a football? And I thought, all right, I'll get the Scotland colors, brand colors. And I was in my, I ended up getting a studio, which I knew I wanted to throw paint about in, and I created this bulb. And the very first time I was mesmerized, I knew this was gonna be game changing. I knew instantly I phoned Ally, I was like, come up here right away. just have our daughter, Olivia, she's pushing up the hill on her pram to get Olivia. And then she knew, she walked in and she's oh, oh my God, this is unbelievable. And I knew from that moment that this was something that's gonna change everything for us. I had to be strategic in how I announced myself to the world as a visual artist. So instead of just launching that single ball, I had six months until the euros kicked off. So I created a full series of footballs, which is actually all these footballs behind me right now. I think it was like seven countries, showcased. and what I did by that was showcasing the process of how the ball was created to the final result. imagery for all that for each ball, and also a video for each ball process, the final, and then a compilation video. So there was so much content that I created, lasted for five or six weeks and when the tournament was on. So it was very strategic in what I was doing in terms of when England were playing, I'd released the England Ball. When the Netherlands were playing, I'd released the Netherlands Ball, which was amazing. But the first thing that I launched was the compilation video, which was the week before the Euros kicked off. And it blew up. It literally blew up and everything changed from that moment, was unbelievable. because a week later, UFA got in touch and said, we wanna work with you. Can you do a, can you come to London tomorrow to do a TV promo? I'm like, hell yeah. then it just stumbled, like it was one thing after another. then the past three years has been an absolute whirlwind, a journey as a visual artist. the best thing about it is that I brought my wife Ally on board, but that was the best thing that ever happened because since the day that we met was nearly, what, eight, nine years ago, we've always wanted to become a family business. It's always we wanted to do, have that flexibility. That was the successes for me. Having that flexibility and doing things as a family, uh, and traveling the world. That was always what we wanted to do, but we never knew exactly how to make that work. And it got to a point about a year and a half ago that I was overwhelmed with Projects come in the door. So I've always been dealing with the business end and the creative end, and I'm sure you know how challenging that is. And the reality is that the business end takes up far much more than the creative element to it. what happened specifically was I was in Nashville doing, artist residency. I was out there for five weeks in this museum creating artworks for an exhibition, which was unbelievable. And they invited me, ally and my daughter Olivia. During that time I was working with clients in the uk, which were a different time zone. And then I got another project coming from San Francisco, which is another time zone as well, which I think was an additional two hours. technically I was working three different time zones in a 24 hours. And I was trying to do family time, I was trying to, I was just overwhelmed and it was just challenging and it was bearing on me, and it was weight, it was a huge weight. And I basically said to Ally like give you a bit of insight, Ally's been in the background working with me for years. Like she's always been my support. She's always been my best. And she's learned a lot along the way. they also, the other thing is I could ask 10 more experienced people in the world and in the game about a certain question and I, they would all gimme the same answer. And if Ali gave me something different, I would always go with her for it. Just my gut was telling me she was right and it's always paid off. So when that time came, I says, Ali, I need you to step in here and help me. And I. She did. And it was so quick. We set up, I was at one evening actually and I had to set up an email address and then the following morning she got flung in the deep end and she was doing a zoom call with a CEO of this company. And dealt with the project management, the everything about all the business and, and she smashed it. She literally smashed it. And then a week later she got the project signed off and if this isn't a sign to join the business now, then I dunno what is. And she did and she changed everything. So she came on board and she deals all the business element of the business, talking to clients, accounts, all that stuff. and she loves doing that. just seeing in her background, smiling away. and it frees me up to do the creative element. Now I still do a lot of the business part as well.'cause I still love that. but the beauty about all of this is doing it as a family and creating that flexibility. that's what it is for me. the biggest thing is that we are able to take our little girl to school and drop her off and pick her up when we want and take her off and days off when we want and all that. success for me, and I've been wanting towards that for 10 years. 10 years before Olivia was born, before Riley was on the scene. That's what I always dreamed about having a family. it's not an overnight success and I've, that's a long-winded question, but it is a lot of hard grasp and discipline. I think discipline gets lost in a lot of it. People think that they can just stroll along, but you've gotta be disciplined in what you do and to get to a certain point, but it's a bit hard grafted as well and putting things out into the world. And then eventually one thing I've done, another picks up, picks up, picks up, and people believe in what you're doing and then that's why I am these amazing collaborations that happen for me.

Radim:

I mean, there's so much to unpack in there. I mean so much. And I just like, I mean it's, it was an amazing, it was an amazing response and amazing to hear your story in full, because I know your. Journey from the typographic, stages. And I can, I think I can potentially remember when you start doing the acrylic, fusion from your typographic pieces for off or something like that. I mean, that, that was the beginning and I could see it sort of bubbling, but what I didn't know and I think was the greatest value, which you said, it's just like how you actually spend time preparing what you were going to do, because there's nothing worse What we do as creatives, they're like, you come up with something and you're like, oh, that's going on Twitter, that's going on Instagram. I'm showing this to the world. I'm going to see what they think. Because in a way wouldn't really wanna show it to the client. Like when client asks you like, Hey, can I see something quickly? They'll be like, not ready yet, but it's, we've got something half-baked and we put it on the internet hoping that everyone will love it, which I think it's a great paradox of a creative profession. But it's what I admire that obviously you, set yourself these targets and you've got this great discipline and this sort of rigidity about a process that you think, you don't like the business side of things, but the way you promote yourself, the way you go about it, the way you said about the, euros and, the balls and sort of having a six month sort plan, that's genius, right? that's like some people would literally shoot their business straight away going, look, I've got this, this is amazing. Whereas you can see it conceptually. And I think that, kind of makes, gives me the sense of like, okay, I. If you had known for 10 years, you need to be a visual artist. Or even from before that. That's something that lots of people don't have. People dream about things. They'll be like, I would like it to be. Whereas it sounds to me like everything you've created is almost like a stepping stones, establishing yourself in one discipline and then carry on somewhere and actually create pivotal career that obviously you, it's changing and it's doing something that, wasn't necessarily a linear career.'cause you've got people in employment who are juniors, seniors, creative directors, burnout, retired, that kind of stuff. So I've really, really liked seeing this and what really struck me as a most important, interesting point was that. You did typeface for your favorite, childhood club, and you said that's it. I'm done. For some people that would be like, the door open. let's get started. Let, let's see what happens. And did you tell yourself when you, declined all of those typographic and typeface projects? What, what did you tell yourself

Craig Black:

The thing is like, see with that brand of Rangers Football club like. I was intrinsic with that. I grew up with that. So my older brother myself used to go to the games and we used to go to I Brooks and I dreamed of playing for them as a footballer, but I wasn't good enough. when this opportunity came, like I took the weight of the world on me because it meant so much to not only me, but I knew it was gonna mean a lot to my, brother, my dad, all the other Rangers fans across the world. So it was a huge, huge brand. And I was the sole one to, deal with that kind of, I took that responsibility, not that anyone was giving me pressure in that, in a sense, like knew I had to deliver because football fans are ruthless. Like, I'm sure you know that if you put a, any kinda rebrand out or any kind of new work that soon as it's not well received within like 10 seconds of that, then it's, it's hard to come back from it. I literally went into so much detail and I put so much heart and soul into it. And in fact, I'll tell you an inside story is I only did one concept for that project because I knew exactly what I had to do. I remember going to the stadium and I'd done the presentation in front of the, whole marketing team, um, some top wigs and stuff like that. And it was probably the most passionate and the most enthusiastic presentation I've ever done in my entire life. Like, I was so emotional, I was shaking at the end of it because it meant so much to me. the bottom curve to R on a letter R and I was like, this is because of this. And that's because the architectures of the stadium and the blue bells and all stuff. And I meant everything to me and it was such a, an emotional rollercoaster. And what happened after that meeting? So sorry, did the type of graphic part and then I worked with an agency who created the full rebrand. They finished their part of the rebranding, the presentation. So the head of marketing who is now the, I think he's the CEO of Ranger Football Clubs, stood up and says, listen, I just want to say Craig, that was one of the best presentations I've ever done. I absolutely love the typeface, it embodies the club, the history, but also the modern era. I'm happy to sign it off right here. And then, and I was like, what? So my, in my head, it's going,'cause when do you ever get sign off in one first meeting? and very rarely happens at that magnitude in that scale. I'm sitting there and I'm going try to keep cool, but there's a little boy, he just celebrates. I started going, yes. And everyone starts laughing, but then I remember walking outta that stadium, and I remember getting in my car and I looked up at the stadium and all day motion just came to me and I burst into tears and I'm, I'm an emotional guy'cause I put my heart and soul into this and the wait, I've just created the tight face for rangers and it's gonna be all over this stadium. And then the pandemic happened. So I had to wait for like another two years before it launched. but when it did, it meant everything to me. And it, I was emotionally spent. I felt like I had to evolve as a creative at that point. I had something I had to. Free myself up because I'm sure you know from typography, the constraints you get the, this like the one point to this point to that point. And I was just like, I can't do it. I put everything into this. I need to change, I need to free myself up and I need to explore something different because that was a pinnacle for me. Like was my dream project when I was starting off. I was like, if I create the VE for Rangers, it's game over. I'm moving on. And I've always said that to myself and I'm so proud of myself for doing that because like you says, you would expect the doors to open. And they did open and some other big cubs came on board and they were asking it. But I had zero interest. I but everything happens for a reason because it led me to the path where I'm today becoming the visual artist, which is everything I've dreamed about and it's pushed me towards that. drawn a line under it and I've moved on and I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to try something different as well. and that's what happened. Leading to this point now, which is unbelievable. what I'm doing today and, painting and exploring and, what I'm producing now is such a unique thing. Like there's technically no one in the world doing what I'm doing with a credit fusion. And I think that's a unique selling point, and that's why specifically brands are wanting to collaborate as well. And I think you were mentioning about the, promotional aspect, the marketing aspect, that's something that I've invested in heavily over the years. I've known how important that is to how to showcase your work. Invest in photography videography as well. I think it's a misstep by a lot of people thinking it's a side product and we don't need really, we could just shoot it on our iPhone, or we don't need to bring someone else in. I've invested heavily in that marketing aspect, come back since I started become the artist, and it's hugely paid off because I've got the mindset of how would a brand react to that? How could that asset help a brand product or a brand activation or something like that. And I've purposely went for the brands right away. And I'm know, I'm, side tangent in the story here, but I think it makes sense because as a lot of artists who start out kinda thing, they go to art school, which I never did. They go to art school, they study for so many years. They do an exhibition, they do a body of work for a period of time. Hopefully someone buys it, hopefully get a gallery show, hopefully down the line, a brand may take it on board and then bring collaborations. And I felt like such a long time and I thought, you know what? I've got the experience, which I learned from design, from, topography, how brands work, how marketing campaigns work. I'm gonna use that knowledge into my art career and utilize it so that, hence when I started off as an artist, I'm going for a jugular. I'm going to work with brands right away. I'm going to show how my artwork can influence brands in a positive aspect and do something that's never been created before. So it went and started off in footballs and then it's led to other sports. It's led to other furniture. It's led to all kind of brands now. it's just constant. It's constant brand collaborations, which is fantastic. And now we're stepping into the art world now where we've got exhibitions lined up all across the world and things two years from now happening. And it's just mental and it's amazing, how it's all coming about.

Radim:

yeah, I still admire the level of self-awareness of you tick off your, your dream list. And that's, where the sort of journey of that particular chapter stops, because, you know, you, I always dream, I always especially be sort of coming through the ranks for the last 20 years and you see different peers, contemporaries, and everyone wants to work with the big name. They're oh, I wanna work with this and that. And when I, for example, experienced this, it was never a sort of work in a park. It was never like, oh shit, let's do this again. It was like Well, we've done this. Let's do actually something more for the soul, rather for the, bigger corporations and stuff. Because most of the bigger projects are always mismanaged and mis mishandled, especially if you're just a part of the machine. you can understand why, you know, you've decided that, okay, you know what, this is enough for now. And. Your presentations only make me think of, of of the simple rule that if you're enthusiastic and you do your work and you're prepared, you're likely to win over hearts and minds, because that's what it is. Like, you see the first heart experience that, you know, you're actually excited about what you're doing and not indifferent, that's half of the job. That's half of the know, that's half of the part of winning work and winning projects and yeah, it sounds like that moment was quite not exceptional and crazy. But what I want to talk about. Would, you actually mentioned that you said, you're potentially the only person doing what you do in the world right now, as what internet makes internet breaks. do, did you ever think, would I have to up my game because lots of people will show up doing the same thing because you obviously, you're bound to inspire someone, who's gonna do the same thing. where do you see what you're doing now? And is always going to be you, but do you have a vision where, this is going just to sort of stay ahead of of the rest.

Craig Black:

for anyone who doesn't know what I do, so my specialist technique is called acrylic fusion. acrylic fusion is essentially acrylic paints mixed together to create interest and, and mesmerizing and effects. And I basically pour it on anything I can get my hands on. I've realized what I've built is a brand and a connotation to acrylic fusion. So over the years, it's getting to a point now where if I was to create a piece of artwork, people will look at and go, that's acre black, that's a great black, which is fantastic. That's a great place to be as an artist. And I do understand that the by me doing this and there is gonna be. Copycats along the way, or people trying to do something similar and that's fine. But at the end of the day, that constantly pushes me to evolve and try something different and keep pushing my thing. at the start of this artist career, you would've seen football heavy. I was working with Self Initiative project, I worked with UFA Premier League and I got to go to the FIFA World Cup. I was known as a G, the the Scottish guy who paints on footballs. But I was very strategic in the sense of I don't wanna be pigeonholed with that. So I was making sure that I was painting on Bikes, basketballs, any other kinda stuff to make sure that I can show my versatility, and that is very important that I'm starting to think visually and think strategically of how the business can grow. In different areas. So for instance, immersive experiences, live art performances. And that's something that's organically happened since the start of the career. And it, what I mean by live art performances, basically creating artworks live in front of an audience, doing my Mackay fusion technique. And again, that's never been done before. my knowledge and what I've heard from every brand that I've worked with and various other brands that they've never seen anything like what I do. So I'm bringing something to the table that no one's done, but it's not for me. it's getting up the level. So for instance, I could have started off and just doing a football, but now it's getting bigger. It's like a bigger ball. Can it be even scale the size of that? Can it be the size of a building? Can it be more of an immersive experience? Can it be project mapping, acrylic fusion across buildings? Can it be whatever, like digital experiences mixed in with the analog stuff. So we are stepping into that territory now of pushing the boundaries of what could be done. And I think what's. Quite beautiful about it is it all comes from an analog and, a real place and physical place, and then it can grow from there. So for instance, the very recent project I did was with a collaboration with Porsche, where I've created this, um, unbelievable car wrap for the Porsche take on. a dream opportunity in collaboration. And that all started from, a 60 centimeter by 60 centimeter wooden board where I've put paint on the board, create a texture, done a high res photograph of it, a super high res that would be so big that it could become a car wrap. That was the very first time I've ever done some sort of wrap, and the results were mind blown. And then what it's done is because I've released that with Porsche, as you can imagine, we've had various other people contact and it's going, oh, can we have this kind of, can this result in x this building or can it across this. Thing or whatever. we're already evolving and pushing the boundaries of what could be done. I think it's very, very important to do that and not just rest in my laurels and just keep playing footballs because at some point it's gonna be a bit boring, possibly for me, and I've always needed a challenge. I'm always kept on my toes. That's how I evolve. I always constantly push myself, even if no one's physically going, oh, you should try this. Like, it's me. It's my creative. I think if you've got that innate thing and you going, how could this work? How can we take this further? And you, you, you come up with ideas. Sometimes it comes outta nowhere and sometimes it takes weeks to months to develop. You've gotta be willing to allow that process to happen. It's get back to when you mentioned before, like I was two years in the background. Like if you're seeing the first acrylic fusion artwork I did compared to now, you'd be like, oh my God, that's shocking. in my eyes that that was terrible. But I was allowing myself that process to learn and experiment and try. Like even from the, first football, the self-initiated footballs that I did, the fusion series footballs, like, you've seen seven footballs. The reality was it was 50 footballs I did. And every PO on a one ball, you can't like command Z it, you can't reuse it. I've got one goal. a huge amount of work in the background of that. Like, I mean we went down to, we put all of our money into that project going this ne this is gonna work. We put everything on the line. And I had so much self-belief in like, I really believed in it. And I think when this, just going back to like mindset as well, like I have this. Incredible positive mindset. And I believe in visualization. I believe in manifestation as well. And I think, see, all of these things that have happened for me is because of having that mindset, like having robust, being disciplined, all these things happen. the moment of doubt comes in, I kick it out, I go fuck off. Like I'm not having it because I can't expect anyone else to believe in me if I don't believe in myself. And that is one of the key things. And that's why everything has happened. And that's why Ally, she's developed so much in this role because of not only the belief I have in her, but the belief she has in herself, which she's seen and, and it's rapidly enhanced our business and our life as well. I don't even know what the question was now, and I've just went her in a spiral, but um, yeah.

Radim:

Don't you worry. No. interesting about a football'cause I wanted to ask you how long does it take to create a piece and like what goes in, the piece? Because you might have the naysayers and go like, you just mix the paint and you just pour it on The football. Obviously that's just that, you know, but it's, it's that sort of thing about. To the 10,000 hours of like actually spending time on your development because there's a, I think it's in, it is in a rebel ideas or black box thinking by, there's black box thinking bys guy. He said basically David Beckham just kicked the ball 10,000 times now. He was literally kicking it, kicking and kicking it, kicking and kicking. And that's how you get good, right? it's amazing to hear that, one football isn't one football or seven footballs, there's actually 50 footballs. And it's amazing to hear that actually you guys put money into this because I have spent the last 10 months not accepting any new work and pretty much spending everything that I have saved or kind of happened to have, you know, left and, went into sort of producing two more books, just deciding that that's what I'm going to do. Because what's in the book, if you remember, there's two things. What there's actually for, there's the feel, the fuel, the magic formula and the superpower and what you describing. I can, sense your feel and I can sense the fuel. You know, like you're like, I'm, doing this. I'm, I don't doubt myself. I'm doing this. And the feel is like, we're gonna carry on because it feels, as you said, if I don't believe in myself, no one would do that. You you don't want to even like instigate a doubt in anyone like this. This is what's coming out. And I think, would you say this, this, this approach comes with age? Did you always feel like you were a hundred percent believe in yourself or, there's, definitely time, time in age. Like for example, when I published my first book, I hope it's okay. Whereas now I'm like, this is the product. This is the best I can do now. And we this, here it is.

Craig Black:

I think for me, like back to when I was younger, like. I used to, played professional football when I was younger for my local team. from, I think I sang my contract when I was 16 or 17, 16 till about 21. And I always had this self-belief that I was good enough to play. And unfortunately the opportunities didn't come for me to, to push on. but I never wavered terms of I knew I was good enough. I knew I was good enough. And I think, and it wasn't like someone always gave me a pat in the back'cause I felt like if I can be my own cheerleader, that's the biggest thing I could ever have. And in that confidence in yourself is so powerful. It is honestly so powerful and it's something that you have to, you do develop over the years because you, I don't get wrong with that. I've had plenty of knocks in my life that have battered me down and. Am I really that good? Am I, and you do question yourself, but then you, I have to quickly reset my mind. And this goes back to the mindset thing. Go, you know what? I'm good enough. Why not me? Why not this guy from a small town in Scotland be able to create artworks for some of the biggest brands across the world? Why not? Why should it be someone else? having that mindset from an early age and building that up over the years does get stronger and stronger and stronger, because as I get older, the responsibility of having a family and all these kind of things and that pressure, having that is, is fantastic. Now, I love that pressure, and I thrive it, but it all comes back to that innate self-belief and that point, if, I can, if a brand reaches out to me, right? And I do something, and I go, oh fuck, I don't know if this is gonna have an audience and stuff, it's not gonna benefit them, it's not gonna benefit the audience. if I go, you know what? I'm gonna give this my all, I'll give this all my passion, all my enthusiasm. And that's the best I can do. And see, by doing that, you give all out, you'll get such a positive response, whether it's one person or a hundred thousand people, it doesn't really matter because one thing, you're building up that self-confidence within yourself. And that's such a powerful tool. And I think people always, people have to look outside to gain confidence whether they should be looking inside.'cause that's the biggest tool, biggest power you could ever have, is that innate and self-belief. And that's, what I've had. And I think that's what I, to be honest, a huge driver for why everything has happened the way it is. It's just that constant striving for positivity in, making things happen. And just go. And I go back to that thing, why not this guy from Scotland to be able to do this? Why not?

Radim:

I think, I think what you're describing is just that doubt. When when you draw one line and you're like, is that a good line? Should I draw another line? should I draw a circle? And I think what you're describing, what I'm sensing from the conversation is that you find your purpose and you find a medium to, the carrier, because then you can believe in yourself, but not necessarily like know what to do with it. You know, like you can just, know, come across it in a way without a, purpose. You're a little bit sort misguided as a regular person. Whereas if if you see this, for example, what I call the fuel, it's just it's a blind obsession. It's just you want to do it because it makes you, something that you just, you know. there's, there's an incredible thing. It's like the more you do it, it's just the no, the mood follows action, obviously. Like, it's, you can't expect. For something to fall into place first time and go, I'm happy now. This has all worked out. Let's go home. It's like, this is gonna be hours, this is gonna be time and time again. And I've been saying on this podcast a few times, they, when I started, I didn't have the imposter syndrome. I had the opposite. I had an idiot syndrome because I was like, I'm here, let me do it. They were like, easy, easy. You know, like, but it's just that excitement about I can do this. Is this my chance? You And especially when I've gone on my own, no one tells me what to do. And, you know, my drive was the responsibility. Like my rent was cheap. So I was like, let's, do this. Like, let's actually just explore and grow. And obviously now I think it's a lot more scarier in the way of responsibilities and mortgages and kids in schools and that kind of stuff. But that gives you the drive that gives you something that. There's only one chance. Like why would you not do it? Why would you not explore it? Because, you can sometimes sort of argue like, okay, is it easier if I'm from an artist in Montreal because that's cheaper? Or is it easier if I'm artist in Scotland?'cause that's cheaper than London. But when you look at it, like it never guarantees that whatever you are, that's what gives you the best sort of foundation for being an artist or being famous. did you ever, with the location, you said you lived in London for a couple of hours, but did you ever think, oh, this is gonna be hard because I'm an artist in Scotland?

Craig Black:

for me, happiness is the key. It's key to a successful life and a successful business. When I was in London, I graduated, I had this desire to be in London because I thought the best of the best is down there. And I wanted to go and learn from them. And I wanted to become the best and the best I could possibly be. And when I got there for two and a half years, I felt I was constantly. Fighting within myself to try and enjoy the place and just try and enjoy everything about it. And it just didn't work for me. and then after I met Ally,'cause Ally was back in our hometown and she basically moved to London to stay with me and try to make something work in London. And we both just didn't enjoy it. It's just not our culture. It's not our lifestyle, it's not the way we wanna be. We stay in a beautiful, like coastal town, fresh air. All our friends and family are here. And I needed that. I needed that massively at that point in my life. this is at the very beginning of me starting my agency when I was struggling and really struggling and everything was calling me to go back home. And it was one of the best decisions I ever made was coming back home. And when I did come back home, I flourished because I had that support system, I guess from Ally, my family and friends and being able to. Enjoy the lifestyle here and the culture. And it's got to a point now where we work with brands all across the world from California, Australia, wherever. And every single one of them want to come to the, the sweet small town that we stay in, in Scotland because it's different and it's like a different, we have life as well. And every single, all our friends and family always ask me and Ally like, are you guys gonna move to California or Sydney or that? And we're like, no. Like our flag is here. This is where our flag is. We stay here. we love going away and working away. But one period to time and coming back. And I think, and because we have a little girl as well, it's having that foundational family around her is so important. And that's a key thing for us, as well. And we've got an amazing studio space and I just love it. And I think that happiness that happiness is a key thing. And I never, ever let the fact that I was in Scotland affect me working with some of the biggest brands across the world. Because if a client reached out to me in London saying, listen, we would love to meet you in person. I'll be like, right, cool. cool. I'll go on a flight tomorrow. I'll come down and see you. An hour flight from Glasgow, straight down, and then about in and out within a day. bingo. when you simplify things and start to realize that obviously the pandemic changed a lot of things in terms of working from home and the reality. You can work with people all across the world, whether, and like you said before, all across the world in different places, it's been a huge benefit us. But I think having that base and having that solid grounding is so important for me personally. and having that, like my, I'll be honest, my studio is 30 seconds away from where I grew up, which is crazy. I never, never in my wildest dreams that I think that I would, should do here. I've walked past this place. About a million times grown up. I used to kick the ball against the wall. It used to be different businesses. I never ever dreamed that this would be my studio. And then one day, or nearly what, three, four years ago now, seeing it become, it was turned into a creative workspace and I was like, oh, is that studio? And then we've got this amazing, beautiful view from a studio. It's perfect space. Amazing creatives working here as well that we collaborate with as well. yeah, location is a big factor for, if that was the question, I can't even remember exactly. But being here is a big part of how I'm producing great quality work is because I'm happy in my personal life.'cause it may affect in my business life.

Radim:

mean, it's summarized beautifully. I mean, it's just, I remember being excited about wanting to live in Piccadilly Circus. I was just like, I was in my late twenties moving to London, having made the name for myself in a small of Southampton. I live again near, the water, and you think about it. Only by being in a bigger place, you kind, you put yourself on more, under, more pressure going like, I need to conform to certain, you know, pace. I need to do this. Because, you know, there's lots of people that you kind of feel like what I mentioned in my second book, like the highway of life and creativity. Like we just, we feel because there's a buzz and there's a fastness, you know, there's boldness there. Sometimes we feel like we sort of, we are satisfied because we're like, oh, I need to do this. Whereas when you remove yourself from the whole scenario and your magic formula being exactly what you do, it doesn't matter where you live or what you do or not, and what language you speak. Because what you produce is universally accepted and understood and actually makes you even more exciting because where you are, you've more of a story. And one day when there's a documentary, you know about you, like it's just gonna be, people will be like, oh shit, I wanna lift that with that. That's really good, you know? I'm, yeah, I think that a great decision. I mean, I, I live now on the outskirts of London and I think that's the best decision we've ever made. You know, I'm, looking at, I look at trees outside my house and I think that comes with age because I wanted to look at people and, you tubes, whatever. But that's just the sort of journey of life. But I wanna go back to your work for a second. you talk about confidence and how obviously you, you, you're ready for those projects. Every time I go on stage, the 10 seconds before the steps you go, like, I wish I could just sit down. I don't wanna do this. it's that moment. It's like, I, I, here for the reason, but I don't really wanna do it for the next 10 seconds until you get on the stage and do it. With your live shows, obviously you are very much in the spotlights. Obviously you've got gear, you've got, your show sets up, obviously you've got people watching. How do you feel when you go on stage? What, do you get those 10 seconds of like, oh, I wish not, or you are you ready?

Craig Black:

is, this is weird because. I thought I would've felt that, but I don't. And the reason for that is I'm so innate and intrinsic with what I'm doing now with acrylic fusion. I, when I'm doing this, I feel that I'm in this zone. So whether I'm performing in front of five people or 50,000 people, I'll be exact same. Because what happens is you do get that. I think when you start to mix a paintings and you look around and you go, right, there's quite a big crowd here. Now they're starting to hear, but as soon as that moment that I'm literally about to start painting, I it's just tunnel vision. It's me and the artwork and that's it. I'm focused. it's like a different ball game. And I think I learned this from football actually, where when it becomes game time, as soon as that whistle's kicked, that's it, it's just a game. You the, the noise from the crowd is, it's a blur because all you're doing is immensely focused on what you need to do in that moment in time. And I think that's played a huge part in what I'm doing right now. And so when I'm doing this, whether it's painting a, a sphere or whatever it would be, it's just me and that ball me that artwork and that's it. I honestly don't care what's going on around me because I'm concentrating so much. And what people don't realize is when I'm creating my artworks, as much as it looks so immensely easily to do, it's not. It's really not. And I've made it look easy because of the hard grafting miles I put in back in that 10,000 hours of work in the background. But what happens with it is you're constantly problem solving as well. Because when I'm pouring paint, like I'm trying to create a certain color scheme or certain flow of pain, like I need to think three steps ahead of myself. Because if you imagine the top end of say, a ball. And I pour painting, and then when I finish, if gravity's gonna take hold and it's gonna come down to a certain level. I'm constantly thinking in my head, how can I make this better? How can I make this exciting? And all those kind of things. So I'm so focused on what I'm wanting to do and what I realize is isn't the feedback I've got from a lot of the, crowd or brands who, or whoever is that I am actually part of the performance. Like, I always, first, I always thought it was just the Upwork, I'm just creating some nice and ta-da, here you go. But then because of the way that I go tunnel vision and focused, that becomes intrinsic with it. The thing as well, like I'm, it's like a weird, it's like a body like Terminator probably when I'm in that mode that it's just like a switch. And I'm like, I set game time and I'm ready to go and I just perform it and I don't, and it just this crazy feeling that just overwhelms me. And I'm like, I'm buzzing because at the end of the day, I don't know what this hour's gonna turn out like. I honestly don't, I can plan all the colors. I can have a vision in my head, but the reality is I've got no idea what's gonna happen next. And I fucking love that. I love that fear in a way and that like moment of going, oh shit, but then I'm the only one in the world who can deal with this situation and make it the best I can possibly and I'm gonna go for it. And I just think that pressure is, I, I use it to my strength rather than a weakness rather than let it let it crumble me. I'm using it to push me and elevate me. And that's why these things are happening and these opportunities are doing it.'cause I'm, I'm all these things and just crazy how it all happens. And even when Ally says it, I'm honestly, she could shout and talk to me and I'm like, What? I'm like, I'm totally, cause I'm making these artworks. I guess it is, it's something that I've developed over the years as well. Like it's not something that's just like I. Bingo. Like I'm just a robot when I come and say I'm not a robot. But what I mean is focused kind of thing. because at the end of the day, people have turned up to got their ticket to the show. You need to perform the show, and that's exactly what I need to do. again, going back to my being a professional footballer that's massively helped me throughout my career and taking parts of my earlier life to now influencing what I'm doing now.

Radim:

would you describe that? What I what From my understanding, it's definitely flow states. Obviously you reach a, a state of flow where you just, you just at one pushing yourself doing a thing. And sometimes like doing the research in flow states, sometimes you think like, how can you actually get yourself in that state you like. how can I engineer this stuff? And you can type it into Google, like into YouTube. Like, how do I do flow states? And people will tell you how to do it and you can Set all the conditions and it might not happen because obviously you need to show up and you need to do that obviously, the way you said how you connect in, I think that's, a great way like of someone actually at firsthand telling me, you block out and obviously like when you, when someone's gonna run a hundred, meters, you know, or whatever they do long jump or whatever, like the professional violin players, the content pianist, they block out, they perform there at that moment. And I think it's amazing that you can actually almost achieve it on demand. Like obviously you've got your medium, you've got your, well unfortunately calling it passion, obviously you've got your passion, you've got your drivers, you've got your purpose, and that falls into place. And, but as, as we just said, like that was years in the making of how to, to do it. You've got your Craig blog on stage, wearing your stencil, uh, words on, on your, down your spine, and then you've got Craig in the studio. How much of a flow stage do you get in the studio? How much of it is a buffer ground? How much of it is easy or how much of it's,

Craig Black:

You know what? I'll be the. exactly the same because every time that I do this, I've technically got one shot only got one shot to do it because I could have 10 balls. But the reality is like, I've got one chance, I do it, getting it right. And I think when you, when I get prepared for that moment and start to sink in with it and what I'm trying to achieve, it's expensive to do, do you know what I mean? Like buying the ball, buying the pain, getting that it's time consuming, all those kind of things. just developed this, technique and I'm so intrinsic with it now is it's just this tunnel vision focus that I have. And going back to that discipline as well. So when I'm doing, I'm creating artworks right now for a solo show I'm doing in Australia, I've only got one of one object sitting right beside me right now. And I've gotta get this right. I've gotta get it right. And that's more for myself. And I think that's what pushes me because every single pole that I do is so unique. I could do the same ball, same colors, do it 10 times, and every single one would be different. And that's a unique selling point. What I'm providing is every time I'm doing it is it's intrinsic and so unique that it becomes one of one.

Radim:

do you have practice ground? Is it all like one shot and that's it? Like, I'm sure there's, development in the background. Like, is this not oh look, it's just one shot, it's done. You know, 50 times we keep one. But do you have like a practice ground? Do you like see what you can do with it? Like how do you push the medium? What, gonna be next?

Craig Black:

It's, it's tough right now because it's so, incredibly busy. now it's like back to back. Projects and stuff like that. sometimes I'll be honest, it's, I have this theory in my head of how would this work if I pour white paint on this area on a board, for instance. And sometimes I just have to go for it during that one project. crazy in bonkers. But that's the way that I work. So what I'm doing, I'm creating artworks for now my solo show, and that has allowing me time to experiment a little bit as well. But at the same time, I've got deadline to get this done. I need to get it done. And, what people don't realize is well see the two years prior to me launching, I'd done a hell of a lot of practice time. A hell of a lot of practice time. So now when it comes to the point now it's boom, I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm doing. I'm not what I'm doing. Yes, I'm constantly problem solving. I'm constantly, even if it's a 1% increase in, productivity and getting a little bit better, I'm always looking for that little 1% to getting better each time. Could it be the movement of the board? Could it be trying this, can I blow a certain, my breath in a certain way or whatever? But I don't have a huge amount of time to practice and hopefully maybe further down the line where we've got time to put our, take our foot off the gas. But I'll be honest, right now, I'm going feel throttle, and, we're going in and we're creating all these amazing opportunities and traveling the world. So I need to be on the ball and go for it. but again, that I, the willingness to, fail while you're doing this as well is another element to it. even though I'm like, oh fuck, I need to get this right. Like, there's a part of me going, fuck it. Let's try it. And I'll just go for it. And it could be a live art show. It could be me doing a one-off piece in the studio. I don't know, maybe, I don't know if that's a good advice for anyone, but it works for me and it pushes me every single time. And you know what I always deliver? I always deliver on what it is. And I think having that, being able to push yourself at that is, is quite a special thing.

Radim:

how did you develop your color scheme? I mean, that's something that I'd really admire. Someone who obviously does, does a lot of work with color for the last 20 years. I think it was the Wimbledon pieces that you did, and there's always like this sort of, this blush orange with sky blue and that kind of stuff. And that is almost like, it's becoming almost sort as iconic as like Paul Smith stripes, you It just feels like this is the terms of, of Craig Black, which again, not only like, what you do is obviously, it's, really unique in a way, and, and the way you apply it, do the way you collaborate. Again, it just pushes it further, further, further. The color, it just feel, to me, I don't know. I mean, again, was it a part of the two year development as, it's an ongoing, because you you can't do Craig, Black sort of scheme for, for gym and for football, but your projects, is that, is there something that you're thinking like potentially, like there's a trademark that you're working towards and you're thinking that might be like a range of products and

Craig Black:

Yeah, I, definitely believe so. I'll be honest, my favorite color palette is black and white, which shocks quite a few people'cause you see a lot of color in what I'm doing. But I love the simplicity of black and white. I love it. But what I've found out, so with acrylic fusion, what works really well is three to probably four colors max. One of those colors would be a white, and then what you'd have is those three other colors would be two colors that are tonally matching and then one that would be adjacent. And I found that that remedy or recipe, whatever you wanna call it, works extremely well. Any more colors added to that. Becomes either challenging or very messy kinda thing. but having that as much as that makes feel as restrictive in terms of having four colors, it's actually kinda good superpower because it simplifies, know, sometimes when you work with a brand and they give you the color pattern and you've got like 18 colors, you're like, great, I can't use all of that. I need to simplify it. And then, because what you end up doing is picking out those three main hero calls or whatever, they would be using a white to help create the blend between'em all, highlights the brand even more kinda thing. So this is something that I've developed over the years and found that kind of recipe works very well. that has worked across that blue and the peach and the, even the, dark blue as well is something that I naturally gravitate towards. I, it's something that I absolutely love, but what, I've created a, flexible. Color scheme palette, they can work with majority of brands, most brands. So when they come in, nine times at 10, they go, can you use our brand color palette? I'm yes, of course.'cause I can highlight it in their way. But sometimes it's got a point now where the brands are just saying, Craig, you choose, you do what you want, you go do your thing now. And I'm like, brilliant. So, I'll be honest, I think my little girl has played a massive part in this in terms of the car. She,'cause she's brought a lot of car to my life, basically. And she's picking different colors all the time. And she's actually comes in and she's got a little mini studio in here. She's got a little table, she's got her own paint and she's got loads of color paths and she'll pick out colors and I start, go, that might be pretty cool on X shape or whatever. And then she's actually influenced the color paths that I've done as well. So, it comes in strange ways, but that's what works for me. And it's worked really well.

Radim:

That's incredible. Do you sometimes with the, live performances, of course you, you have to adhere to the color scheme for brand and stuff, but when you see your, live performance in, the situ of, the space, do you know in advance, for example, if, something that you can play in unison, like is can you vibe some colors in, in the room or can you do this? Like, do you know in advance and, and do you make color choices

Craig Black:

actually usually working with, whether it's the brand or the event agency. So for for instance, we worked at the UFA Champions League final, this year, uh, in assemble, which is unbelievable. And they had a color palette of, for the, for Stan, which was a deep purple to a blue. And I was going to, I'm doing a live art performance in this VIP area just outside the, the whole area was kitted out in the branding of, the purples in the blues. And it was like a pink as well, I believe. And. It was actually me because they were, they said to me like, oh, you could go choose whatever you want, kinda thing. But I was like, no, I think we should emphasize these colors.'cause I think the window would be beautiful. But what turned out really well is when they've created that on the, ball that I've created, sorry, there was blue lights. There was pink lights as well. It all just synced in one and it was like, in terms of imagery as well, it was unbelievable. And then a live accident, it just worked so well. and complemented the area is so sometimes it works. And then very recently, I was in the science center doing, working with the Pento Awards. and I've loved, I've always loved the idea of doing the

  

Radim Malinic

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