Artist Focus: An Interview with Zak Krevitt — nftreats.art
Introduce yourself, please! Let us know your pronouns, give us some details about who you are, your background and what got you into art
Hello! My name is Zak, my pronouns are he/they. I’m an artist, activist, and professor. I’ve been making art since I was a young child, building sculptures and drawing and taking pictures of my friends and family. As I got a bit older, my interest became more defined, and I started documenting unseen communities within my larger queer community. I realized that I was most excited by people who had bucked the constraints of contemporary society, and decided to live as authentically as possible. I am interested in moments when the baseline of “normalcy” has shifted dramatically, creating new worlds to inhabit and explore.
What do you love most about erotic art and being an erotic artist?
I love that erotic art is free of sexual shame. It is a medium that embraces the thing that society so often determines to be impolite. I also love that it explores genuine human emotion, at the base level. These feelings are raw and instinctual, they are millennia in the making, they are primal and instinctual. As an erotic artist, I get to explore this primal instinct and let my mind unfold in an authentic way. Also, of course, I enjoy the process! I enjoy eroticism and sexual energy, and there is often a real connection with my subjects before we decide to work together. So the photoshoots are often a unique sort of foreplay, whether it be intellectually, or physically.
These feelings are raw and instinctual, they are millennia in the making, they are primal
What are the biggest challenges of being an erotic artist, in your opinion?
The hardest part about being an erotic artist is navigating the current digital infrastructures that society has become so dependent on. There is always a dance we are doing, as erotic artists. A dance between revealing enough of our work to connect with a wider audience, but not revealing so much of our work that we spurn the almighty algorithm or offend a follow to the point of reporting. This threat of report, also censors how I act in other places online. For instance, if there is a political discussion, I often voice my opinion in a comment section, but if my comment gets too much negative attention, I run the risk of crusaders coming on to my page and mass reporting, so I will often have to delete things I write if they gain too much traction, out of fear of artistic censorship.
How did you first learn of NFTs and what made you pursue NFT art?
I first learned about NFTs from a friend on Instagram. She works in tech and had posted a couple of small burbs about it. When I asked her about it she was super excited and sent me long messages detailing exactly how to mint my first NFT on Rarible. It clicked instantly, there was no need to “convince” me. As soon as I saw artist royalties and immutable digital provenance, I knew immediately this was the future. I had been an artist for so long but had always held deep misgivings about the gallery world and its failings. So for years I had really just posted my art on social media, hoped it would get me some boring commercial jobs, and kept that cycle going, it was unfulfilling. As soon as I realized that I could now give my art a new life where it would see the financial value, without the need for a gallerist, I knew this for me. I was also working on a lot of fundraising projects for anti-racist, trans-feminist causes, and saw this as a new tool to raise money for those issues.
Together with other artists, you helped curate Digital Diaspora. Why was it important for you to produce a show like this?
The Digital Diaspora was an incredible experience. The year prior, I had started a nonprofit organization called Towards Utopia, and worked with curator KO Nnamdie to create a print sale that featured many incredible artists, and the print sale had been really successful. We had raised $100k for several different NGO’s that benefited Black Trans Women and Sex Workers. As incredible of an experience as the print sale was, there were some major logistical issues with fulfillment We were such a small team, and the nightmare of packaging and shipping thousands of orders internationally became a major setback. So the following year, when I became interested in NFTs, I knew instantly that this would be the method with which we raised money for causes this year. Diana Sinclair was our social media manager at the time, and she pointed out that there weren’t many Black artists that had received attention or acclaim in the NFT space. A lightbulb went off in my head instantly, and I asked her if she would like to curate a group of Black digital artists for an NFT exhibition and fundraiser. She agreed and so began the 4 month process of producing The Digital Diaspora! The main purpose of the project was to shine a gigantic spotlight on these artists, so the project grew and grew. We got involved with the City of NY to put the work on public digital screens in Times Square and brought on Superchief Gallery to host a physical exhibition. Foundation was also eager to work on this project, and created a dedicated page on their site for the exhibition and worked with us to launch the project.
We had raised $100k for several different NGO’s that benefited Black Trans Women and Sex Workers.
Racism has existed in the traditional art world for centuries, and it was so painful to see those same practices replicated in web3. The Digital Diaspora was our answer to that. This issue needed direct addressing. Around the same time, a group called Herstory Dao launched, dedicated to supporting the work of Black women and non-binary people. Diana and I were both early members of Herstory Dao and decided they would be a perfect partner for this project as well. HSD became one of the main beneficiaries of the money raised through the NFT sales, and members like Cyn Bahati and LATASHÁ helped guide the launch and ethos of the project. The other beneficiary was GLITS, an organization that provides housing and holistic care to Black Trans women. This exhibition was important to produce for several reasons, Black artists were being left behind in the NFT world and we wanted to change that. Black women and Black Trans people are among some of the most discriminated against people in this country, and any organization that is addressing their needs deserves as much funding as possible. The Digital Diaspora was able to support Black artists, both financially and by bringing attention to their work, while also raising money for important causes. In total, we raised around 40ETH that was distributed among the artists and organizations.
Racial disparity in the art world, unfortunately, is not new, it has existed in the traditional art world for centuries, and it was so painful to see those same practices replicated in web3.
You’ve been in this space for a while now. How do you feel about the NFT space now compared to when you started out?
I’ve gone through many phases in my relationship with the NFT space. At first, I had blind optimism, I saw nothing but opportunity and positivity, Slowly I realized there was a lot more than met the eye. There were a lot of backroom deals, organized pumping, discrimination against pretty much anyone that wasn’t a straight white male, and for a while, these things bothered me deeply, I almost left the NFT space altogether. But eventually, I realized that leaving the space would not benefit anyone and that I would better be able to push for change from the inside. I began to find allies and comrades, explore the technology more intimately and create a community for queer people. These days, I approach the NFT space the same way I would approach any project, it takes dedication, consistency, and knowledge. It’s not some magical place, it’s a very real place with very real failings, but by addressing those failings head-on, I’m confident we can move forward. Every day I am learning something new, and that is incredibly exciting. Something that has been incredibly exciting is finding other queer artists in the space! A few of us have a started a group called the #CryptoQueers that is an open support network for queer artists in the NFT space.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on?
There is no way I can name just one! I desperately wish I could own anything by Tyl000rd aka Tyler Givens, Moyosore Briggs, Serwah Attafuah, or Ix Shells. All of their work is so unique, they are all such masters of their craft, hopefully, soon I will be able to pick something up by them! I’m confident they will all go down in the history books.
Where do you see NFTs and digital ownership of art going in the future?
I see digital ownership creeping into every facet of society. Physical clothing will come with digital counterparts, ticketed events will all have POAPs and NFT enabled ticketing systems, guarded spaces will leverage NFTs to control access, toys and games will come with digital counterparts and reward mechanics. I see a complete dissolve in boundaries between physical and digital ownership and physical and digital spaces. Our physical belongings will have digital counterparts that use NFT technology to verify ownership. The universe and the metaverse will constantly grow more intertwined.
What advice would you have for anyone who wants to take erotic and/or sexually explicit photos?
Approach your models with clear intentions and make them feel comfortable. The difference between a successful shoot and a failed one will rest in how safe your model feels to be vulnerable. There is so much more than just setting up lights and taking the picture. You need to talk with your models, empathize, provide their favorite snacks and fabrics, and create an inviting atmosphere. Approach the project from a place of elevated interest, not just horny desires.
You need to talk with your models, empathize, provide their favorite snacks and fabrics, create an inviting atmosphere. Approach the project from a place of elevated interest, not just horny desires.
What makes nftreats stand out from other NFT marketplaces for you?
While other marketplaces may tolerate erotic art, NFTreats is the only marketplace that truly embraces it. Many of these other sites have murky TOS with regard to nudity and eroticism and keep the door cracked open for censorship, but NFTreats embraces our art with open arms. Being free to mint is also a huge bonus, it allows for experimentation, exploration, and puts less of a financial burden on artists.
Originally published at https://nftreats.art on October 19, 2021.