We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Carr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
The habits that I feel have helped me succeed – not in order of significance. 1.
Persistence and Work ethic:
Every day I put a good amount of time into my work. I am a hyper creative – I make stuff all the time,
My interests all require time for research, inception, practice, presentation in market, marketing/promotion, networking and project management. There is never enough time.
As an emcee and producer, I work on raps/instrumentation daily; either writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing, performing and etc. Every day, No days off. I don’t pressure myself to do one more than another, I try to follow an organic developmental order of operations. Do what feels right..but make sure I do something everyday. I go through periods where I do more mixing and promotion and other times I am writing and touring…but my habit for years has been to work on the music every day. With my visual art, I try to work on photo or video content daily – either shooting, editing, working on graphic designs, exhibiting or etc. Every day, take a photo, share a photo, edit a video, or what have you. Every Day. And then you have to get booked, sell the art work, organize the events and etc.
Artists are not exempt from work and time commitment. Doctors don’t just go to work once a week; lawyers don’t just do research for one hour a day. If you are an artist and want to be self owned, be prepared to work all of the time, be prepared to have to do what nobody else will do. It is a full time job. If I didn’t love what I do/have been doing, there is no way I would have been able to do it for this long. At a certain point art is similar to a war of attrition – I am not giving up. Keep making art.
As of now, I am trying to transition my business from social media marketing and expansive wide net outreach to targeted/direct to supporter models utilizing patreon and NFT sales. The transition requires ongoing production of work and constant communication with the audience of supporters.
Seeking/Curiosity: My art, my work, my life is – is rooted in exploration and curiosity. My habit of seeking answers, problem/puzzle solving, and my interests in human behavior have been the foundation of my art and business. I want to know more, I want to learn form others, I want to communicate with people all over the world. I want to experience nature and document it and share its gloriousness with others. I am excited by the journey, the unknown and the connections that are made when humans communicate and exchange narratives of experience. I had to treat my art as a business in order to sustain it but the underlying foundation is curiosity – I keep asking questions. Every answer just opens up another box of questions. The habit of always asking questions motivates what I write about, what I express, what I depict and that curiosity informs what problems I seek to solve with my art and events. I am a student of life, there is always more to learn. Every person has something to teach me.
Stay authentic to self – never sell out.
Daily, people try to divert me from the true direction of my art and business, often with no malice intended,, Their ideas of success, their interests, their biases lead them to impose ideas and suggestions that would not be beneficial to me. I have to be vigilant about my creative work; especially in the business of entertainment, where people have no problem bullying, leveraging power, and assuming that everybody else has a price. Additionally, convention and conventional wisdom do not apply to most of my endeavors so I have to constantly remind myself of my purpose, my goals, the social catalysts for what I am doing and the ways in which I would like to do it. I have to consistently reflect and make sure that I am not closing myself off to advice, suggestions, inspiration, influence and tutelage.. but I also have to remember what I am here to do and never let go of that.
Doing what I love has been the fuel that powers my creative engine. It took me years to find my path in art, but that process allowed me to explore and experiment with a myriad of media. The result is that I have actively chosen my arts and means of self expression, it has not been imposed. My interests are not simply the projections of social expectation and community convention.
I love to rap, I love shooting, I love trying to observe life and reflect it to others via audio and visual art. I have self segregated myself from anything taints the love,
Keep in mind that in my estimation, success is not quantitative and there are no pre-defined metrics for measuring success, Each person has to decide for themselves what it means to be successful and what the purpose of the art/business is. There are short term, intermediate and long term goals and targets. I am not sure how to calculate all the different ways failures lead to success and success ends up in failure.. so I try not to overthink it. Fulfillment is subjective/personal and cannot be restricted to a universal standard. I tend to focus on one thing – keep making art. In order to make art and sustain myself as an artist, I need to generate income and revenue, but monetary gain is not my impetus for creation. If I spend a year creating an album, I would love for as many people as possible to hear it, experience it and be affected by it, but I cannot allow popularity to dictate my creative direction. If I curate and produce an event, I want the most number of people there as possible but I can’t book performers or artists that contradict my moral sensibilities. For me, success is making a living while doing what I love and hopefully the product of my work will contribute positively to my community and society at large. Do I dictate my success, do critics?.. does money??… popularity?? the number of works created??..is it about my affect on the world? Does it matter if anybody ever knows I was alive? These are all questions. I don’t have the answers… but I do make a lot of art. Every day.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is art – so I focus on what is important – the ART. I co founded Brooklyn Wildlife – an artist incubator and group of folks that love indie arts, performance and discussion. I throw a culture festival every year with over 150 live performers of all genres and styles – all indie.
I co founded Gamba – we have published magazines, hosted 100s of events, developed some education initiatives and run a community arts space in Greenpoint.
I do diversity and Inclusion/Anti colonial workshops for start ups, nightlife businesses and schools.
I work with Artery.is as an advisor and community manager helping to open up New York as one of their main hubs of business.
Co founded Black land Ownership – we centralize information, gather resources and encourage folks of African descent to become land owners.
And.. I make a lot of art – music, photos, videos, graphic designs and I am an author.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would tell them to check out House of Yes, go see a Smokes n Jokes performance, def check out one of our events and wander. Don’t make a hard plan, meet people and follow the universal flow, New York is full of culture, it’s in the streets as well as what you can see in a museum.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a big shout out to Hip hop and the Black radical thought tradition. And a big shout out to all things in the Universe. Love is love
Instagram: @bkwildlife (events) and @parnhashnakovsky (personal) @eatthecakenyc (photos) @blacklandownership
Twitter: @bkwildlife (events) and @j4mp (personal) @eatthecakenyc (photos) @blackownedland
All photos shot by Eat the Cake NYC or BK wildlife