We recently connected with Anthony Freda and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, thanks for joining us today. One of the toughest things about progressing in your creative career is that there are almost always unexpected problems that come up – problems that you often can’t read about in advance, can’t prepare for, etc. Have you had such and experience and if so, can you tell us the story of one of those unexpected problems you’ve encountered?
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to live my life as a creative. Upon graduating from Pratt Institute, I entered the professional world of editorial illustration with high hopes. And I achieved a modicum of success as a freelancer for newspapers and magazines. I soon realized that I could not fully support myself in this way, but refused to work in a non-creative field. I needed a “real job”, and fortunately found an entry level position in an advertising art studio in Manhattan. It was like bootcamp for artists and I soon learned enough to leave and start my own studio with a good friend of mine.
Our business thrived for years and advertising was financially lucrative. The work, however, failed to feed my artistic soul. I was one of the artists who worked on the now infamous Joe Camel ad campaign featuring cartoon camels in an endless variety of scenarios. Things were going along smoothly until the government determined that we were marketing cigarettes to children and shut down the campaign. I did not become an artist to sell poison to kids. It was a moment of moral crisis for me. I decided at that moment that I would leave the Mad men and use the skills I learned in the ad game for less nefarious purposes. I created a portfolio of new work and pitched it to The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The New York Times. Somewhat to my surprise, they all commissioned me to create illustrations for them. I continue to work in the field, but also volunteer my services to like-minded organizations who are working to promote peace, freedom and true social justice. I have repented for my artistic sins and I am using my skills for good. I sleep better now.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist who used his art as a means of exposing some truths about life and society. Picasso said “Art is a lie that tells the truth.” I knew at an early age that I was not a virtuoso when it came to natural artistic talent. My advantage was the way I thought. I had a talent for pattern recognition. By identifying the patterns, I could make unexpected visual and conceptual connections. These connections create a foundation upon which a conceptual illustration can be created. When seemingly disparate ideas are merged or juxtaposed, an original and hopefully compelling concept is born.
I honed the craft of visual communication and persuasion while working in the advertising industry. I worked on campaigns for many Fortune 500 companies and saw the ways humor and emotion could be used to influence.
When I left advertising, I was exposed to the work of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and learned how institutions used psychological techniques to nudge people into certain ways of thinking. These methods were often used cynically to promote products and ideas which were not in the public’s best interest.
I became fascinated with using these methods to promote the ideas of peace and freedom and to expose corporate malfeasance. Most of my artistic efforts are done pro-bono in the cause of peace. I am an anti-war artist at heart. War is the most extreme expression of negative human action and emotion, therefore I prioritize it as such.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
For me, my art is about survival. I need to create as much as I need food. My work is therapeutic. Creating helps me confront, process and understand the madness I see all around me. Every act of creation is a microcosmic version of the original act of creation. Every act of creation is an act of hope! My work is also cathartic. It gives me a vehicle for self expression, but also enables me to transform the negative emotions of fear or sadness into positive emotions like hope. As artists, we are fortunate to have this powerful tool in which we can connect with others through our work.
It’s more than a dopamine hit when people “like” my work. It is a way to build a community of like-minded people, and connect with others on a human level. It is a way to positively impact or influence people. When our struggles are shared, we don’t feel so alone. When people see something that resonates with them in my work, they respond and a friendship is born.
Alright – so here’s a fun one. What do you think about NFTs?
I am involved in an exciting NFT project at the moment, so am bullish about the NFT space for artists. Our project is called Jackstraw. I understand the environmental concerns, so our project is on the Cardano blockchain, which is much greener than most. We are also dedicated to giving back. The Rainforest Alliance, United Way and Occupy Peace all will benefit from our charitable donations. It seems to me that the blockchain is here to stay, so we can’t hide from it. We can make it better. It is the only secure database on the planet and as such, has a secure place in our future. Soon everything from your driver’s license to concert tickets will be NFTs. It is inevitable. As an artist, and activist, I see the concerns, but am working to make the NFT space a safer, greener and more transparent place. This is a brave, new world for all of us, and as we navigate the metaverse, there will be challenges and dangers, but great opportunities as well.
- Website: www.AnthonyFreda.com
- Instagram: anthonyfredaart
- Other: https://www.jackstraw.crowrepublic.io
All images by Anthony Freda.