Jeff Davis: The Art Blocks CCO on his creative process, resolutions & independence
"Even for full-time artists, communication, marketing, and other business aspects can interfere with the ability to actually make art. The key is prioritizing your creative time and making it sacred."
Hey there! Welcome to another edition of BTK.
I was looking forward to this one. Jeff is a legend in the generative art space and I am very excited to share his answers to a couple of questions.
He touches on different topics ranging from his creative process and success to the idea of independence and his new year's resolutions.
Hope you enjoy it!
WhoTF is Jeff Davis?
Jeff Davis is a generative artist fascinated with abstract art and mathematics.
With a background in painting and printmaking, Jeff began to use design software to explore structures and colors to create digital art in 1999, and he's been inspired by the use of technology for creative expression, building generative systems that explore form and color since then.
Jeff has taught art for twenty years and has written two textbooks, “Foundations of Design” and “Foundations of Color”. He is also the Chief Creative Officer at Art Blocks.
His work has been exhibited throughout the US including at the Center for Contemporary Art Sacramento and Torrance Art Museum and has been auctioned at major auction houses all around the world, such as Sotheby’s and Phillips.
Quick note: This edition of Behind The Keys is brought to you by wovn, a platform for artists where you can manage all your collectors regardless of where you have minted. Jeff is part of the advisory team, so I included a couple of questions regarding its platform at the end of the interview.
Behind the Keys: Jeff Davis
What does your creating process look like?
My creative process is a mix of contemplation and concentration.
It normally begins with a long period of thoughtful consideration in advance of the end goal, like an exhibition or presentation. I’ll often spend months mentally shaping a project for the planned context.
This is followed by an intense development phase, where I engage in concentrated sessions of coding over a week or two.
From there, it’s mostly about fine-tuning; reviewing outputs, making refinements, and honing the system until it’s just right.
Who are 2-3 artists you admire or respect that you think deserve (even) more recognition?
Given my role at Art Blocks, this is a challenging question! It's like asking a parent to pick a favorite child.
However, I will say that the recent release of Human Unreadable on Art Blocks by Operator was pretty astounding.
I was also thrilled to pick up work by Lars Wander as part of Bright Moments Tokyo, and I’m hoping to see him on Art Blocks someday.
And StevieP’s Instructions for Defacement on Plottables was one of the most enjoyable art experiences I’ve had with the plotting gallery they set up in Marfa for our last Art Blocks community weekend.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
I think the hardest part of being an artist is carving out time to create art. I’ve always had professional responsibilities beyond being a practicing artist, which still continues today with my job at Art Blocks!
Even for full-time artists, communications, marketing, and other business aspects can interfere with the ability to actually make art. The key is prioritizing your creative time and making it sacred.
Why do you create art?
As a double major in mathematics and studio art, my artwork provides a vehicle for me to explore my dual interests in both of these subjects.
For me, creating art is an exercise in problem-solving that provides a unique satisfaction. I’m able to create visual systems that explore geometric structure and numeric sequences.
My wife often jokes that it provides me with a healthy outlet for my more obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
What habit or practice has changed your life the most?
Every new year I set a number of resolutions. They usually cover a range of goals related to work, family, personal relationships, individual growth, health, and pleasure. I always enter them in my task management app, but this year I also gave my resolutions random monthly reminders. This has helped me stay mindful of my goals and I think is improving my progress!
What does success look like to you?
Success for me has many different facets, both professional and personal.
Professionally, I think success means having the freedom and time to think creatively, the independence to chart your own path, and new opportunities for growth.
Personally, I measure success by the happiness of my wife and children and my ability to spend quality time with loved ones. A live well lived as they say!
What are you willing to struggle for?
There are many things worth struggling for - family, friends, fairness, the success of others…
But in an artistic sense, I suppose the main thing for me is getting it right. If an outcome doesn't meet my expectations, then I’m willing to put in additional effort to improve or even just let go and start over.
Are there any challenges you face as a web3 creator that wovn has helped you solve?
Wovn is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for understanding my art market and collector base.
I’ve used it to identify collectors for specific projects and it helps me keep track of recent sales and trends.
As you have used wovn, was there any information or data that surprised you?
The top-line results for the total number of collectors and total sales volume always feel pretty surreal to me.
It’s also really interesting to discover my top collectors, both overall and within individual projects.
Learn more from Jeff
Something to read: The Color of Code | Jeff Davis
Something to watch: Jeff Davis “Formation” Q&A at Bright Moments London
Something to listen to: DeCent People With Jeff Davis of Art Blocks