La Vaun: Envisioning Brad Garlinghouse as 'This Strategic Commander'

The artist made an NFT of the Ripple Labs CEO for our Most Influential package.

AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2023 at 1:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:10 p.m. UTC

As part of our special NFT series, we asked the artist La Vaun to make an image of Brad Garlinghouse, the Ripple Labs CEO.

Click here to view and bid on the NFT created by La Vaun. The auction will begin on Monday, 12/4 at 12p.m. ET and ends 24 hours after the first bid is placed. Holders of a Most Influential NFT will receive a Pro Pass ticket to Consensus 2024 in Austin, TX. To learn more about Consensus, click here.

We spoke with La Vaun about their work for the question and answer below.

1. Tell us about how/why you became an artist. Why do you choose to create NFTs?

Back when I was a kid, I used to wait for Dad to come home from the university. It was like a daily countdown until our special drawing time. after his days as a university lecturer, he'd come home, books in hand, and whisk me away into the world of creativity. As soon as he walked through that door, we'd grab our sketchpads, sit down, and let our imaginations run wild.

As a linguist publishing books on language, Dad instilled in me the idea that the world was boundless, and life was too short not to explore its vastness. He appeared to sense the potential concealed within his boy. And in those formative years, he'd instill in me a mantra that would echo through my life: "Sky is the limit." I guess I never consciously wanted to be an artist. art itself chose me to be its sidekick.

Why did I choose to create NFTs? As far as I can recall, it was in September 2021. It all began when my high school buddy, Billy The Cobra, shot me a message one day after years of silence. In that conversation, he nudged me toward the realm of NFTs, expressing his belief that confining my art to conventional spaces would be a missed opportunity. Little did I know that this digital frontier held a profound connection with the teachings of anarchism.

NFTs, in their essence, embrace the spirit of anarchy, challenging the established norms of the art world. The blockchain, with its decentralized nature, becomes a canvas for rebellion, mirroring the anarchic philosophy. It's a revolutionary shift where artists and enthusiasts break free from traditional gatekeepers and forge a new path.

In this anarchic dance of pixels and codes, NFTs become a powerful tool, not just for artistic expression but as a form of resistance. The conventional art establishment, often centralized and exclusive, finds itself confronted by the decentralized and inclusive nature of NFTs. It's a rebellion against the traditional power structures, a call to democratize art, and an invitation for artists to reclaim their narrative in this digital revolution.

2. Talk about your artistic approach to creating an image for this year's Most Influential.

In shaping this year's Most Influential painting, I resonate with Adorno's stance on societal norms: "Art is the social antithesis of society." Channeling the essence of critical theory and societal critique championed by Adorno, the depiction of Brad Garlinghouse leading through a wintry landscape symbolizes a nuanced rebellion against ingrained norms.

Reflecting Adorno's belief in art's transformative power, the composition aims to spark contemplation on the shifting dynamics of power and societal norms, echoing his call for art that challenges the status quo. It's a visual narrative infused with Adorno's wisdom, fostering a reflective dialogue about the transformative journey within the crypto realm.

La Vaun's image of Brad Garlinghouse, the Ripple Labs CEO, for Most Influential 2023.
La Vaun's image of Brad Garlinghouse, the Ripple Labs CEO, for Most Influential 2023.

3. What aspects of Brad Garlinghouse's personality and profile did you want to emphasize, and why?

When I dove into creating this piece featuring Brad Garlinghouse, it wasn't just about slapping an image on the screen – I aimed to capture some profound vibes. Set against the backdrop of Crypto Winter 2023 and Ripple's resilient comeback from the SEC drama, I envisioned Brad as this strategic commander, navigating the snowy peaks of the market, a distant castle lit up. In this narrative, I want to emphasize Brad's leadership, toughness, and future vision with the aim of creating a piece that transcends the canvas – something with depth, a touch of flair, and a sense of historical significance.

Incorporating the XRP Army as an online cavalry rolling with Brad adds a layer of community love, underlining the team effort that played a significant part in this monumental comeback tale. By framing Brad's profile against the backdrop of a major era in cryptocurrency, this piece is set to capture not just Ripple's win but also the lasting impact of Brad's leadership during a time that's going to be etched in the crypto hall of fame. It's a visual narrative crafted to serve as a shoutout to a comeback that left a mark on Ripple and the wider crypto scene.

4. Who do you think are the most influential NFT artists today?

It's a challenging question, but we are thankful to have Rata Yonqui. For me, in every aspect, he is the ultimate number one of all time.

5. What was the most disruptive NFT project in history?

In my opinion, the most disruptive NFT project in history is "RektGuy" by Ovie Faruq. This artwork embodies a profound philosophical meaning of disruption within the crypto space. The term "Rekt" in crypto slang refers to getting wrecked or facing significant losses, and Ovie cleverly weaves humor into this concept. The disruptive nature of the project lies in its ability to address the fear of failure and the importance of resilience in the volatile crypto world.

Faruq's creation serves as a historical milestone, teaching people the courage to embrace disruption and delivering a crucial message about the significance of honing one's spiritual qualities in the crypto realm. "RektGuy" is not just a work of art; it is a collection of pure grails and an insightful project that navigates the challenges of disruptions, serving as a key artifact in the emerging culture capable of providing soul training.

6. Describe your style in three words.

It's a good question, though a tough one. Much like a pilot with a helicopter view who can't observe their driving style from below, I find it difficult to gauge how my work and style are. Nevertheless, I'll sum it up with three words: Moment. Before. Oblivion.

7. Given the rise and the fall of the NFT market over the last 18 months, what's your outlook on the future of NFT art?

The future of NFT art is poised for a revolutionary ascent. Beyond the recent market dynamics, it symbolizes a cultural shift that's just beginning. We're witnessing the birth of a new era where artists and collectors redefine the boundaries of creativity and ownership. This journey is a boundless exploration, a canvas waiting to be painted with unprecedented possibilities. The synergy between technology and art in the NFT space will not just endure but continue to push the boundaries of what's conceivable in the art world.


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