This episode with Beka Rios is one that gets very deep and personal. This is a no-nonsense session, where we traverse themes of immigration, art, mental health, AI, and so much more. It’s also the longest podcast episode I’ve recorded to date, because I just could not justify cutting short. To be honest, I totally lost track of time during our conversation.
Stating with the story of a family of immigrants fleeing Germany to Georgia, and then later fleeing Georgia back to Germany, it quickly becomes clear that this is going to be a very thoughtful discussion. From his formative years, to his current understanding of ethics with modern technologies and art, Beka presents perspectives that are greatly thought provoking for both artists and non-creatives alike.
Growing up with a father that was an animator and film maker, Beka started out with a creative background early on. I think it’s worthy of note that he had a lot of educational and creative reinforcement from his father. These are strong foundations built on exposure to different modes of thought.
As a kid that drew and doodled on literally everything it makes sense that he ended up going to an art school for children, and started getting a formal background at such a young age. This is where ink came into his life, and began bringing “completion” to his doodles. It continues to be a prominent element in his life. Additionally, his father brought computers into his life early on, so here we see interdisciplinary exposure for Beka at a very young age as well.
Talking about our childhood in a world outside of the West, I found we shared an understanding of how wild it is that our generation has gone through literally all major media formats from Betamax to iPods to where we are now with everything living in the cloud. And furthermore, it made me think about our appreciation for how much we had to take care of our media; broken casettes, sunlight-deformed vinyls, you name it. We had to find ways to protect these insanely valuable vessels for our media.
Through his journey as an artist, Beka has maintained his appreciation for, and application of the analogue. He still prefers designing on paper, even though he’s working with advanced software like C4D and ZBrush, among others. I think its important to acknowledge this, because we live in an era where most folks start and stay in digital formats more and more as time goes on.
From an academic approach to design to where he is now with his skills and conceptual frameworks, it is important to note that he emphasizes the importance of community. The majority of what he learned was from others around him, and getting hands on with projects. In a way, he elegantly de-emphasizes the importance of academic training, while stressing the value of getting involved in things personally.
We touch briefly on client work vs personal work, and then take a massive dive into the topic of AI assisted art. Problem solving, exploring new concepts; it’s all about discovery and growing as an artist. As we dig into the implications of AI as a tool, I find that it just outlines the importance of acknowledging that artists make art because they need to make art, and how it contributes to our personal growth.
I think our discussion is very thoughtful, and explores many facets of what social implications AI is having, and about to have for creatives. Beka’s insights resound strongly with me personally, and I think he is addressing a lot of uncertainty many of us have felt as we have seen the proliferation of the technology entering every industry with great momentum.
I get pretty spicy about how we’re upset about the wrong things, when it comes to art and AI. Thankfully this is countered by Beka’s common sense and calm demeanor 🤣. He addresses the elephant in the room: this is an ethical point. Listen and judge for yourself where you fall on the spectrum of this discussion - and let drop a comment about it. Maybe respond directly to this post. I want to hear your view!
Eventually, we find our way out of the AI discussion somehow, transition to the topic of identity, and the things that influence who we are and what we create. One of my favorite topics to harp on. A few honorable mentions on the way out here for Dehiscence, Tormential, and O.G. Spiratom here.
Beka’s explanation of what he presents, and how it’s related to who he is, is very heartfelt and personal. There are so many valuable points here for artists who are curious about the utility of art, beyond the immature and often irrelevant discussion around it in NFT spaces. There is complex narrative, generational considerations, and a world of thought around the intentions in his work. Very humbling to listen to him break this all down, and no amount of words I can write will do this section justice.
I absolutely adore how Beka is passing his art experience down to his daughter. It is an excellent echo of what his father did for him as a child; this is the kind of thing that many artists do not think about when it comes to leaving an impact with your life’s work. If you have another human you are passing your love and creativity on to, that is a different kind of legacy.
Again, we get fucking deep and personal about our lives, and how it manifests in our work. I mention Joe Tiberino, whose mural I got married in front of, and tie it into the beauty of the style I see in the kind of composition, visual language, and subject matter I love to see in Beka’s works.
As Beka gets into what influences his work, and where the darkness in it comes from, he lays out how art acts as therapy for him to address and cope with his intense life experiences. I think his personal catharsis in his work manifests as a meditation that can supplement a viewer’s catharsis, as they observe his art.
Our discussion gets so thick, it’s only appropriate that we get into discussing whether it’s important to explain our work in depth or not. Especially with the insanely thick personal narratives folks like Beka and I pour into our creations. I mean hell, we get into technical and conceptual topics in relation to art, anecdotal history about occultism and alchemy, and of course cats and food.
So I’m going to sum this post up here with this: take a closer look at art if it speaks to you. If you connect with something, maybe pause, and dive deeper. As Beka mentions colloquially, “You might be discovering something for your self.”
Please make sure to give Beka a follow on Twitter, and check out his prolific works across multiple marketplaces on the blockchain. And as always, please help spread the word, so that we can draw attention to these higher level conversations we are having here about art, life, and technology.
This upcoming week, I will be sharing my discussion with Mondoggg. He is a brilliant individual that has an incredibly good gauge of what’s going on with the NFT ecosystem, and a collector that consistently and respectfully continues to support artists on-chain. Check him out on Twitter beforehand, and see you on the next episode!