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Meet Rapheal Crump of Ak Productions Art in Richardson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rapheal Crump.

Rapheal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a professional Fine Artist who works with acrylic paint on stretched canvas. With the use of aerosol, I also enjoy painting large scale murals. My work connects to the viewer by pulling them in through nostalgia, culture, and storytelling. Born and raised in New York, I moved to the great city of Dallas Texas, where I work as a Senior Graphics Designer and Painter. I grew up watching my parents, mother an Illustrator and father a Painter, attend an art night college and work days to support me. With this exposure, I picked up my passion for the Visual Arts at a very young age, memorizing what I saw and later creating my visions on paper with pencil and ink.

The sports driven time period of my youth helped develop my love for sneakers and fashion. The advertisements for sneakers from companies like Nike, Adidas, Jordan Brand and a few others, appealed to me giving me a love for their styles, player exclusives, and advancement in shoe technology. After attending high school, I opened an urban clothing boutique where I designed clothing, custom painted shoes and hats in New Jersey while attending college at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, NY. Graduating with a BFA from SVA,
I started a career in television doing Graphic Design.

So far, my work has been seen in multiple Art Showcases, galleries and even Miami Art Basel where I showcase my newest thriving series “Mystery of the Flying Kicks” where luxury brand shoes are painted as if they were tied together and tossed over power-lines. Society has taken these items that were made to keep our feet clean and put them out of our reach. To help people keep up with my progress and newest work, I post consistent updates on social media and finished work goes up on the gallery on my website, showing the start to finish process of my work. Since a child, I just did what I love and that is both create and surround myself with art.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Growing as a man and an artist has definitely been a challenge. My parents never were married so I grew up living with my Mother and seeing my Father on the weekends. We were never a wealthy family but full of love, so I had all the support needed to pursue my art career. To make money even for lunch sometimes, I would collect other kids lunch money by drawing their names in graffiti during my lunch break giving me the nickname “Art Kid” or “AK” as it stands currently. With that money instead of buying lunch, I would save it and re-invest it into my art supplies and love of sneaker collecting. I saved up and bought an airbrush machine which I used to make customized clothing for people in school. While working at a shoe store, I met a fellow who was customizing baseball caps. I teamed up with him the summer I graduated high school and opened a small clothing boutique in New Jersey.

After being accepted into School of Visual Arts, I was to maintain a certain GPA and miss no less than 2 classes. I don’t know why I was singled out that way but I had special rules I needed to follow along with paying for tuition to stay enrolled. My clothing store helped pay off a huge chunk of tuition as I would attend classes from 830am-6pm and then drive an hour out to my store and work sometimes until 2 am and do it all over again. Work and school was a 7 day a week routine for those 4 years until graduation. After graduation, I landed a job at a major news corporation in Manhattan, NY where I would spend the next 3 years proving myself time and time again competing against the other artists who had support and advantage from a family who already worked for the company.

While there, I met a very special man, the one I currently work for today. He rose to fame while at the company and started his own network hiring me as the first and lead artist at the whole organization. I helped launch the network creating every graphic and animation off of one laptop in an office full of wires while techs worked around me installing cables through the walls and floor around me. As the company moved to Dallas, TX, I stayed behind and worked out of a studio office to tend to my elderly grandparents and help my parents as much as I could. During this time, I made my attempt to break into the art world as best I could. Attending almost every evening gallery opening, private museum events, world art shows and trying to get my personal work into galleries only to be either turned down bluntly or given the runaround. This leads me to almost give up on my painting and drawing and focus on my design career and friends.

By this time, my parents by then were well off and the Dallas company needed me down here, so I made the life-changing decision to move. Moving to Texas connected all the missing pieces to my puzzle helping get me the exposure, showcases, friends in the art community and financial needs to invest in my own professional career. Although I miss Sunday dinner with my mother, seeing my father and hanging with my friends from NY, it was the best decision I have ever made.

Please tell us about Ak Productions Art.
My company is a business and an art brand. A brand about who I am as an artist and for the people who relate to my work. I give people the custom work they will love, because its personal to them, it tells their story and their culture when you see it. I would say that my work stands out because when you see a painted pair of shoes, or a pair of shoes hanging over lines in the streets, you think of me and “Mystery of the Flying Kicks”. I’ve had people in Germany, South America and even Japan send me images of shoes hanging over power lines just because they related it to my series. I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has seen it, some know the meaning, some learn it from how I’m presenting it to them through art. I’m just happy people can relate to my work and start talking to each other when they see it.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite childhood memories was being in a night class at my parent’s art college and them giving me their professional materials to draw with. Looking up at them, creating these large works of art, put me in awe as a child and gave me a sense of being.

A second favorite memory was riding my bike to the sneaker store at the outdoor mall where I lived every time a new basketball player shoe was released. I would go and stand in the store for hours studying the shoes on the wall, their technology and even the way they smelled. Then, I would ride home and draw all night creating my own designs.

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