The notion of building something out of nothing can be as cliché as the American Dream and as punk rock as DIY’s ethos. Out of the accessible and miniscule, Nathan Sawaya – the lawyer turned lego sculptor – creates pieces that are monolithic and awe-inspiring. We paid a visit to the New York-based artist’s LA studio earlier this month where we learned his story: how he ditched the comfortable financial security of working in law to pursue his dreams (sound familiar?).
In his recent collaboration with Art of Craft, they created the Art Revolution Foundation – to fund art education programs nationwide, and communicate to kids that “art is not optional,” the key message featured on the collaboration’s shirts. Because of the unique nature of his medium of choice, it’s a firm reminder that: hey, he uses legos – what excuses are we making to keep art out of the lives of our youth? Out of Nathan’s static sculptures, Art of Craft has worked with him to expand the breadth of his art to move, inspire, and pay it forward. From craft, they’ve built cause.
We’ve created a 2-part video piece on both Nathan Sawaya and Art of Craft below:
Started as a project of three creatives–Derek Galkin, Sal Masekela, and Tu Pham–Art of Craft’s aim is to be the medium between craft and cause. Each month, they carefully select a “craftsman”, whether it be a sculptor like Nathan, or a iconic musician like Sal’s father Hugh Masekela. Working closely with this craftsman, they together choose a non-profit that ties in with the work–one that the artist is particularly passionate about. From this labor of love, they then release a capsule collection ranging from apparel to prints, with 10% of all sales going to the chosen cause.
It’s as if Art of Craft were directly inspired by the original system of apprenticeship from the Middle Ages, where a “master craftsman” would give back by formally training the next generation. Patiently transferring their skills, and in turn, preserving them through time. They’ve created a platform for these creatives to make their work accessible, and given them an opportunity to inspire and pass the artisanal torch in a tangible way. “Not everyone is going to go to the gallery show,” says Sal, “and for us, being able to take something as simple as the T-shirt or as these prints, which we all use whether you’re into art or not–and use that as a way to sort of backdoor people into thinking about art and think about where this stuff comes from–it’s the greatest medium ever.”
Derek, Sal, and Tu are very selective–”selfish”, even, in Sal’s words–when it comes to choosing their next craftsman. I love this about them. Soon, they’re going to be collaborating with the likes of incredibly talented illustrator Jon Contino and designer Dao-Yi Chao. It’s so evident through their work with Nathan Sawaya that the three intensely curate both craft and cause, because they actually created a new foundation with him as they were zeroing in on how he wanted to give back. Their new Art Revolution Foundation‘s goal is to fund arts education programs nationwide and support organizations that provide art therapy to the elderly and ill. “When art is in schools, kids do better,” says Nathan. “If art makes you happier, smarter, and healthier, then just by definition, art makes you a better person. And that’s the idea behind the Art Revolution.”
Art makes you a better person. Art of Craft is here to remind all generations that with the “creative inspiration, drive, and knowledge that art education offers,” they can build something out of anything.
Out of the accessible, creating something distinct. Out of the intangible–inspiring.