Trail Blazer and Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman will be releasing works as nfts in a highly anticipated drop on Nifty Gateway. Steadman is renowned for his famed friendship with the late Hunter S. Thompson, as well as his illustrations wrought with social conflict and political dismay. As an enormous fan of his work, I was honored to spend a few moments learning about Ralph’s journey from a young illustrator to one of the most notable and prolific artists in pop culture.
Ralph, Thank you for spending a bit of time and allowing us to learn about you and your work. I am personally a huge fan, and it’s such an honor to witness your work in the web3 space. Your works from Alice in Wonderland to the famed Hunter S. Thompson relationship have shaped and inspired the minds of so many, including my own. Can you tell us about your background? How did you begin your journey as an artist?
I was doing my National Service when I took a course “You too can learn to draw and earn £££’s” by Percy V Bradshaw. So I took the course, correspondence style while I did my National Service. I would sit on the bed drawing a pair of boots, or a teacup while the other lads wrote home or played cards. I sent him the monthly modules of the course. Each particular episode of the course was completed like that. It kept me going while in the army and learnt also to watch TV as I was a radar operator.
What lead you to make your art accessible through NFTs?
It is an opportunity to reach a new audience. Some of the NFT’s we mint are from images that are older than most of the people who collect them! I have enjoyed being in some Twitter Spaces and talking to young artists about their work. We do them every month or so to coincide with these collaborative drops we have been doing since last year on objkt.com. It’s a great way to meet the community and be part of it. It is exploration of a sort, the next frontier.
Who is your favorite artist(s) and what about their style resonates with you?
Picasso has given me the most enjoyment to watch. It is the spontaneity. He looked at things and people and saw them and responded in different ways as if there was a space or world which they inhabited and he could capture them in that.
What experience have you had as an artist that made the biggest impact on your life?
Meeting Hunter S Thompson at the Kentucky Derby in 1970. I had a little goatee beard at the time, He said “What’s that growth on your chin? You look like a matted-haired geek with string warts.” I am still not sure what string warts are.
We seemed to get on OK though. We had spontaneity similarities, whatever that means. He was in the American Airforce and I had been in the RAF so we had a link there too.
What are your other passions besides art?
At one time it was playing guitar and writing songs. I learnt to play with a bloke who played with Django Reinhardt. Alan, he lived in East Ham. We would talk about drawing after the lesson.
He was a big influence. I like the processes of art, like etching and printing, and all the mechanics involved in printing on a letterpress, or screen printing. In fact, we have a new print coming out of the Peacock Galleries in Aberdeen this year from my Picasso-inspired collection of works.
How did you come up with your specific style?
It’s not a style, I don’t consider it a style. I consider it a way that I draw. I find content more important than style.
How has your style evolved over the years?
I think it’s got messier! When I can get hold of content I tend to go for it more than anything else and the style is informed by that. I think I use more ink than I used to.
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
I would love to work with George Grosz. The content of his work and the fact that his work was more to do with content than style. It was very linear and simple and pure – not overcome with style and the ideas spoke to you very simply and purely.
Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)
Anna, my wife who passed away last year. I carry on but I am not always sure why.
What can you share about your upcoming drop, and how can collectors access your work?
The four pieces are all from different parts of the archive but hopefully give people an insight into how I work. They include collage and line work. The Hunter portrait was created for Rolling Stone, Chimera was just me playing with some bits of anatomy collage and then seeing what happened. Killer Sport, well I guess it’s my observation of American Football. Our European football, soccer, is less brutal I think. My portrait came from a comment of Hunter saying to me “Don’t Draw Ralph, it’s a filthy habit”. It made me laugh because really he quite liked it but it was not his way to admit these things.
This drop is on NiftyGateway Curated I believe at 6:30 pm EST but you can also find pieces on objkt.com on the Tezos Blockchain.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I like to try and do a walk every day. I am lucky to have enough space in the orchard so I walk through it and back. I feel as though my heart is still pumping.
Link to Website: www.ralphsteadman.com
NFT marketplace links:
Into the Ether by Ralph Steadman | Collection | Nifty Gateway
ABOUT RALPH STEADMAN
Born in 1936, Ralph Steadman began his career as a cartoonist and through the years diversified into many fields of creativity. Artist, writer, sculptor, cartoonist and designer, he has illustrated such classics as Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm. His books include the studies of Sigmund Freud and Leonardo da Vinci, while with Hunter S. Thompson he collaborated on the birth of GONZO journalism with his classic illustrations for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.