Powered by RedCircle
The artist Micah Johnson came on the pod to talk about his rise in the art world. On February 21, he introduced the world to Aku: The Moon God, his fictional character that was born from a question, “Can astronauts be Black?”
Aku was released as an NFT that resulted in $1 million worth of sales in 1 minute and $2 million total in 28 hours! On the podcast, we talk about how Micah got support for Aku’s launch, why NFTs are powerful for his work, his future plans for Aku, and more. Micah was also a former Major League Baseball player, so we talked about his transition from MLB to fine art.
If you’ve been hearing a lot about NFTs and want to hear how it works from an artist themself, this is the podcast for you!
Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS
Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
Guest: Micah Johnson, @Micah_Johnson3, linktr.ee/Micahart
Aku | Micah Johnson’s character to inspire kids to dream without limits
Dan Runcie 0:07
Hey, welcome to the Trapital podcast. I’m your host, Dan Runcie. Today we have a special guest, who’s a former Major League Baseball player, now turned to artists like to welcome Micah Johnson to the podcast. Welcome man.
Micah Johnson 0:21
Thanks for having me, Dan. Yeah, I appreciate it.
Dan Runcie 0:24
I’m glad you could come through. And it’s been an exciting time, especially for you. But before we get to everything that’s happened in the past few weeks, let’s go back a few years, because you had a career in Major League Baseball, it was what you would want to do your whole life. And then you decide to weave that in wanna go into art full time. Take me through that thought process. What was that? How were you feeling at the time?
Micah Johnson 0:51
it was more organic than you would think, you know, it wasn’t like, leading up to it. I said, This is my final game and made a big deal about it. It was more organic. I wouldn’t say it’s how I envisioned you know, going out. But at the time, you know, I really wanted to focus on like, my mental health and my mental well being. And I knew it was the right decision in order to make sure I was alright. So that’s kind of how it took place. It wasn’t like I was a Michael Jordan, this is my last game and ceremony, and none of that.
Dan Runcie 1:18
Because I remember I read that there was some meeting that you all had, this is when you’re at the Dodgers, and Dave Roberts had asked a bunch of you all, hey, like, what are you interested in? What are your hobbies, and you had mentioned art and painting, and you quickly became known as the guy, at least not just within the team, but also within baseball as the one that has paintings. And this is what you do.
Micah Johnson 1:40
Yeah. And it’s funny, because like, when that all happened, you know, the first painting was so bad. But a few of those guys came up to me and said, like, that was good. It was a talent I was or something. And I believed him. So I just kept painting. That’s literally how I’m here. That’s it. Everybody in rooms, like that’s trash. And I want to be doing this. Like, point one is like that shows you how much just like kind words, instilling confidence, somebody can really make a difference. Even if you don’t like something or there’s no reason to say something negative, like there’s zero benefit of being negative. It took a while to establish myself as an artist after that. There wasn’t like overnight, or all these guys thought I was like a painter. Up until recently, this past summer, was when they were all like, Oh, wait, like, this is Mikey, like, this is the guy that was playing baseball. And my goal was always to be known as an artist and as a creative and not as like the artist, creative baseball player. And I think I finally shook that thing.
Dan Runcie 2:33
Definitely. What was it like? Because I know you mentioned it took a while to feel like you at establish yourself, were there specific things you had done intentionally or was a lot of that organic as well?
Micah Johnson 2:44
I work man, I work from the moment I wake up till probably way past, the time I probably should go to bed is every day. There’s no like, aha moment. It’s like I really worked on my craft, we’ll get into like, why I’m painting the way I paint all that stuff. I’m trying to say, but I just work I believe if you do something enough, I don’t care if we wanted to, like learn to code, if you wanted to learn how to make beats, I don’t care if you want to like, you know, become like a naztech or stock trader, right?
You do it enough, you’re going to be good at it. So for the years, like after I retired, I just painted in my garage, and I would get up early in the morning, like, you know, six, five in the morning paint all day, do to get the next day. And I still do that because I think that a is practice. But I enjoy it. The one thing I enjoy most about all this and any success is not that success is the whole journey to get there like seeing yourself get better in this painting or see yourself making better decisions and things like that. That’s what I enjoy.
Dan Runcie 3:42
I think that consistency is key that goes back to the whole 10,000 hours thing, right? Like you can’t really feel like it until you get to that kind of level. And for you like is that you’ve been doing it non stop? Have you kept track of how many pieces of artwork you’ve done since when you first started?
Micah Johnson 3:57
No, because I throw a lot away. I throw a lot away. So if you count those, I mean, hundreds of 1000s because what works for me is I just paint with raw motion, right? A lot of time I just use my hands, dumping charcoal, drawing charcoal, and just shaping things. A lot of time it doesn’t work out like I’m not a natural born. Maybe I am but like, but like for me to develop their skills and doing that. I’m still developing right? So when you see something beautiful, that comes from like a lot of mistakes, right or a lot of bad decisions denied learned from it, don’t make it no problem throwing things away. at any stage in the painting either. If we’re like, almost done and something’s off, I have no problem. A lot of the dumpsters.
Dan Runcie 4:42
I hear you on that it’s funny hear you talking about this makes me think about how I can be to some extent with my own writing as well. People may see the polished product that’s out there after I press send but you don’t know how many stories that are still in the draft. So many stories either just didn’t make it because the moment passed. The thought just didn’t come clearly enough at the time.
But it’s key. And I’m sure it’s tough as well, because so much of what you’re doing, you’re not just trying to comment on something that is of the moment you’re trying to put something out there that can like live over time. I think I saw one of the earlier works you had done a few years ago, it was the Ken Griffey Jr, where he’s blowing the bubblegum and I mean, that’s such an iconic photo, but it’s you being able to put your own spin on that. And I can imagine that took quite a bit of time to create something like that.
Micah Johnson 5:30
Yeah. And he didn’t evolve from that to like, really having a style that is recognizable. That was the hardest part, right? This is my thesis is to be a successful creative. And I mean, like successful monetarily, or legacy, you have to have a style that everybody recognizes instantly, right. And you can’t deviate from that. Because then they don’t know what that is. That’s what they’re accustomed to. So being creative, you think you can do all these crazy things you can like you’re almost even more constricted, the more successful you become.
So for me, when I was doing work like that, I didn’t feel well, because I was trying to come up with a style. And eventually I found it, and it was just like a light bulb went off. And it’s crazy. Because sometimes, you know, I have an exhibit in Los Angeles right now. And during that time, I’ll do like a really kind of like, hyper realistic oil painting, which like, My style is like raw charcoal. And I’m like, Yo, this is amazing, takes us to the gallery. And they’re like, I don’t know, like, this doesn’t work really well. And I was like, Yeah, I know. Like, you got to kind of stay in your lane for at least a while.
Dan Runcie 6:30
Yeah, it seems like there’s a few stages, especially in being a creative. It’s like, when you don’t have your own style. At first, you often end up emulating what you see from other folks, you do that you see how much you like. And I think once you see what resonates based on what you feel comfortable with, then it really starts to come into your own. And to your point, it’s like you want to get to that point. And in some ways, I think you’re there, you want to now you want to get to that point, though, in general, where it’s like, someone looks at this, and they’re like, oh, Micah Johnson did this. That’s that Micah Johnson style.
Micah Johnson 7:02
Yeah. And to your point to like we are creating early on, you are emulating people, and you’re looking at Instagram and all that, right. And I think is important in anybody’s progress or process where the writer or a painter, or learning anything, social media is a tool to use. But then it comes to a point where you got to say, okay, like, if I keep looking at this social media, what other people are doing, I’ve never got to figure out what I’m good at, or what my style is. So I’m at the point now where they don’t do social media, I don’t enjoy it. Because you can get stuck in that creative block, because you’re seeing whatever else is doing. And subconsciously, I should be doing this. Like I like this, you know, and you just get away from yourself, really.
Dan Runcie 7:45
When you were looking at social media, were there artists or people that you were following specifically that you were trying to emulate in the early days?
Micah Johnson 7:53
Yeah, it’s funny, because it was such a wide spectrum. Like when I first started, it was acrylic, like pop art work can like really fine line. So I’ve worked like that. And it was just like, that’s not me, my mind’s all over the place. Like, I’m wild. Like, that’s not my style. And then when I started evolving into like charcoal and stuff, right, so I’m looking at like, Nelson Mocambo, right, one of the most renowned artists in the world, in my opinion, and like, whatever he’s doing his elite like the Michael Jordan, of art, and, you know, he didn’t start doing things like that. And it’s like, okay, that’s not my style, either. Right.
But I think all that was a process to like, teach me how to where I’m at, I took the colors that I saw in pop art, I take that kind of like looseness, you know, Nelson has, right. And I tried to like just make it my own and shape it. I’m still doing that. I don’t think you’ll ever stop. The never be there, you know, but those two in particular really kind of like steered me. And it was ironic, too, because Nelson is, you know, working with children in South Africa, too. And I you know, my point emphasis children, going back to when my nephew asked if I was gonna be black. That’s the origin of wanting to paint children painting him as a national. So the pop art was Shelby and Sandy. Did you have Nelson Makamo two opposing works, right, two opposing styles. But it’s like, you kind of see that influenced me a little bit.
Dan Runcie 9:11
Yeah. And I could definitely see that. And from a creative perspective, I know one of the other common things we’re always seeing people talk about as well is, “Who are your customers?” How were you able to like build that following, build that base? I’m sure it’s a little different for you in creating fine art. What does that like though?
Micah Johnson 9:28
So when I was creating, and that’s something I was lost, and I kind of paint all these things, right? I was focusing on the customer and the collector and like, what they might want or what might sell things like that. And I was never getting any real traction. I didn’t feel good about it. And I think people can sense if you’re inauthentic. And so when I said I painted my nephew as national like I just literally in my garage started painting him with the actual helmet on and I saw what that did to his confidence. And I saw what the way he responded.
So that felt right to me. Like it wasn’t like anything. I was selling these anything bad just felt right to me. So what I realized was when people started buying him, and then galleries are interested in my work, I realized that being authentic to yourself is what people are going to buy. If there’s a story behind it, if you can clearly articulate your messaging behind what you’re doing, then people are going to buy it. Regardless of how hyper realistic something is, or how good something is, I think people are buying more so the person in the story than they are maybe technique or whatever that is.
Dan Runcie 10:31
The feeling, especially with creative work. That’s what sets the tone and helps you stand out. Sure. So with what you’ve done, you were clearly starting to hit a stride with what you’re doing with charcoal, what you’re doing with acrylic, and then NFTs come about and you enter that space. When did you first see the potential there to think, Okay, I have what I’m doing here, maybe there’s a way to transfer it to this new wave that’s happening.
Micah Johnson 10:56
It’s actually funny because I don’t see a way to transfer my art to NFTs. Like we’re talking about charcoal, we’re talking about texture, we’re talking about like raw emotion, a fingerprint, my work doesn’t translate, I want my work on your wall, I want you to see it, I want you to like feel something with this big painting at large scale, and it was my work doesn’t translate. And my first got into space about a year ago, you know, I was like doing like iPad stuff and things like that. And I did maybe like three or four works like that, right? And just didn’t do anything after that.
Because I was like, you know, I want to focus on my art career. This doesn’t feel authentic to me. So took a break and always wanted to develop a character aku derived from my nephew’s question, his passion, whatever. And so I said of NFTs is a good way to do this. So develop the character over months. And what I really wanted to do with aku was bringing it in the terms of what Disney did treat it as almost like a company. Aku is a company that we brought to the blockchain. So you have creative, you have animator, you have all these components, right? That’s how I bring my creativeness to the blockchain, versus I’m gonna do a painting or things like that.
Dan Runcie 12:11
That IP as we refer to like having Aku be a piece of your intellectual property is key, because that goes back to the storytelling. And that leverages the potential in this because as you see with Disney, these characters can live everywhere, whether it’s you go to Magic Kingdom, or wherever you see these characters, you turn on Disney plus you see these characters, you go to AMC, you see these characters. And that’s really what you’re kind of going for. And it’s cool. I feel like there’s a huge potential there. And you’ve already been tapping into that.
Micah Johnson 12:43
Yeah, exactly. And I think what’s interesting now, and I’m always trying to do something, they can show somebody that was possible, and then have them do something better. You know, it’s all about building and building and building for the next generation and next people. And you exactly right, what I do is I have IP, I have a character, and I think it’s a character that needs to be seen. And obviously, after the first release, and the community that was involved all across the world, people need to feel that kind of connection with him. Right.
And so that IP, you know, I have big plans like I, you know, I’m thinking the exact same way, how can we get him on the show? How can we get documented movies haven’t been documented every kid’s house, right? Or a kid’s room? like kids sit there and watch the wiggles all day? Why can’t they watch aku this kid who just wants to be a black astronaut, but it feels like he can. I think everybody can resonate with that story, like feeling like there’s limitations to your dreams, like, regardless of your skin color. So what we did was okay, I want to bring this to the blockchain first to prove market fit. That’s what NFTs in the blockchain really do.
There’s a collective base there, you can prove you can make money, generate revenue there before going to these productions and these studios, right and try to sell them on this IP with this elaborate story, you know, that we can just try to establish this character first, to establish his IP first, then take that to them and say, Look, this is how many people are engaged with this. This is how people are collecting this. This is the revenue generated off of 60 seconds, rarely artistic, who’ve done clip. This is what we’re bringing you. And that’s where I’m fascinated with NFTs is, or the whole marketplace in general, is that potential.
Dan Runcie 14:16
And you definitely made a statement with that, as you mentioned, within the first 45 or 60 seconds, you sold a million dollars worth and then within the total 28 hours that you had it on sale, over $2 million. How did that feel? Were you expecting that?
Micah Johnson 14:32
Oh, no, no, no, I’ve been thinking about money, man. I never have monetary goals. Even with my exhibit in LA no idea what sold what hasn’t sold in no idea what the prices are for my paintings. They don’t know at all. Because as soon as you start thinking about money, and if you start focusing on that, that becomes like the objective. My objective is to reach kids and whoever parents, adults don’t matter. reach people. What that monetary value does that you just said? It gets attention for people. It’s a new space. What is it? Oh, you’re making millions of dollars. It’s attention grabbing, which is great. You know, you need that.
But I’m more focused on the community that it’s built. You had rappers talking about aku, you had celebrities talking about Aku. We had athletes talking about how a coup, you’ve had crypto people, everyday people, you have people that put together just 1000 bucks to get an Aku. You had a community of people all around the world come together for one day, on one chapter, we have like 1000s of people in a clubhouse room on a Sunday. Just having fun. That’s what really got me excited. money aside, that’s what really, really got me excited to see the potential here.
Dan Runcie 15:35
Yeah, that was dope. You got some heavy hitters there. And like I told you, I think right before we started recording, I had seen so many people that I follow later were like, posting it, resharing it and I was like, Oh, they got into like, it was really special to see. Let’s talk a little bit more about that base in that collective that was able to help push this forward. Because you alluded to it earlier. I know one of our mutual friends, Erikan was part of this. She’s definitely leading a lot of efforts in this space. What was that like in terms of being able to use that as a platform to help spread the word and the awareness?
Micah Johnson 16:06
What we saw and how Aku became this thing where everybody across borders was collecting, it was started with a few of the leaders in the black crypto space. 36 hours before we launched on Sunday, they started a group chat. And this is our opportunity to put a black character and a black artist at the front of a movement, which is NFTs from Jump Street, right, this is our chance to take overnight, you know, not take over, but lead the way in his new market, right, that obviously generating a bunch of revenue.
So they got together and just leverage their network and just reached out to people and instantly, like, what do we need to do? Okay, what do we need to do? Okay, cool. Because they resonate with the story. And it was authentic, you know, what that showed me? And I hope it took a lot of people, they understood what really happened was Black people generate the revenue when there’s a massive Black people.
We mob man, like, That was incredible. I think that story needs to be told and that you’re going to see as the chapters evolve what really occurs here, and Alan had explained it, man, it’s like it puts people on notice in the space like they drove $2 million in sales 36 hours out from like, three people in a group chat, right? That’s powerful, man. That’s the alpha. But all it really is.
Dan Runcie 17:21
I mean, I think that there’s a few things happening. There just had been so many examples of Black folks being the key drivers of culture, whether it is on these new social media platforms, we’re just talking about clubhouse earlier, we were the early adopters, and the ones that push that to the billion dollar evaluation that it has now. And you see this happen time and time again. So the fact that there was this new wave and this new trend happening, and we already saw what the potential was people being able to a support and see the potential and the vision of what you were doing, but also the character Aku and the potential in the vision of what’s there. That’s what gets people bought in too.
So one, it’s tying into what you’re doing. But it’s also Hey, there’s this broader opportunity. We know we have the collective power. And yeah, I mean, the Rolodex and the group circles are very close. It kind of reminds me of there was this one episode of Black-ish A few years ago, where it was Anthony Anderson’s character was talking with Deon, and the two of them were talking and they were just naming all these black celebrities. And it was like, “Oh, do you know so and so?” And then they’re like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, “I met so and so at this,” and they couldn’t name someone that either of them didn’t have a connection to and it just speaks to the fact that you’re not that many degrees of separation away from each other.
And if you can coalesce the base, some dope shit can happen. And I’m really glad that you know, you were one of the ones not even just as a benefactor, because it speaks to the work and the content and what you were able to help put out with this. And this is just the beginning.
Micah Johnson 18:58
Obviously, I was the artist there and I was the character there. I brought the IP right and all that. But what that proved out was, if we did this for one character in 36 hours, what do you think we could do with other artists, other platforms, other companies, other sectors? If we did that in 20-36 hours, what do you think we can do for all together on this? And to your point, Yeah, it’s like, oh, let’s call so and so. Oh, and it’s like, yeah, we know that we know them. We know them.
The group that is together on this is connected everywhere. And that’s what we’re all really excited about internally is the other potentials out there. You know, from a business perspective of the needles that we can move in the various sectors moving together and it’s powerful when I think crypto is so new that it’s like, this is an opportunity here in crypto. This is a clear opportunity.
Dan Runcie 19:50
It really is. It makes me think too, about the character Aku. Of course it is a fictional character, but it’s clearly based on like real life, but I Also think about how I’ve seen some of these virtual influencers having their space to like what Brud has done with Lil’ Miquela and some of the other characters they got. But they are having these virtual concerts, they are having these types of meetings and meetups and their whole pitch is that Miquela is as real as Rihanna is, if you see her that way.
And I think to a lot of extent, what the potential is for something like Aku is true as well, because there’s so many places where this character as IP can live and can continue to push and people can follow along that type of journey. So it’s like intersecting that world to, which is still really nascent.
Micah Johnson 20:40
Exactly right. When it broke out from a business perspective on a couple Sundays ago was we released IP in the most weird fashion and NFTs right? What is NFTs? It didn’t matter to people. It did not matter. People messaged me, and said this is the first NFT I bought.
So I think together what we could do is okay, if that worked on NFTs, what could this do with figurines? What could this do with television shows? What could it do with things like that? And me just being the person I am I just think I’ve always had these ambitions. But it’s like, this isn’t just about a character. This is about opportunity to have an enterprise like of other characters.
For me, representation is the most important thing in a child like for me growing up, I was a big baseball fan, obviously. A player on the Cubs, big Cubs fan, Brian McRae, right? Not the most well known player ever, by any means. I was like, 675, whatever it was news, actually, who was like that was my guy. And this astronaut that gives him that representation, right? Obviously, the astronaut helmet isn’t the focus. Like he’s not about being an astronaut.
It’s about this unattainable thing that exists. Playing baseball, this seems like an unattainable thing. I did it and I’m, you know, six foot 180 pounds from nowhere. No abilities athletically, like the worst basketball, football soccer player ever. And I did it actually not seem like an unattainable thing. Others have done it. So just showing these kids that gives them hope, especially in a time with social media, when it’s all like they’re on social media at young age. And the kids are saying negative things about them and like, just blowing their confidence. Nothing isn’t relevant. It’s important.
Dan Runcie 22:26
Yeah. When I think about the visual aspect of just the ability for the idea that continue to spread. I’m curious if the people who have owned it or even you yourself, Are there digital frames? Or anywhere or anything else up? Because I know you had mentioned earlier like you know your core, you want your stuff to be out there you I just stuff to be seen? Do you have frames and stuff like that?
Micah Johnson 22:47
Yeah, I’m trying to figure out that actually now is because I didn’t expect the response on chapter one, right? I did not expect that by any means. But a lot of people were asking about the frames and things like that. So we’re trying to figure out how to ensure they have frames, because like the creative team behind it is like putting out incredible things. Like if you had it on your wall, like “Yo, this is wild,” you know, or you have to be on there like so that’s definitely something that we’re looking into. I think it’s so new in the space to having a frame that links to an NFT or an NFT wall and things like that is still kind of confusing.
Dan Runcie 23:18
So I guess from the outside looking in a bit, because you of course are working at one aspect of the NFT world. But you know, there’s all these other things happening, whether it’s NBA Top Shot, or what artists are starting to do, where they’re starting to release music or have things like I haven’t saw Hannibal Buress has a few of his own comedy sketches that he’s putting out there. What is your thought on some of the other ways that you’re seeing creatives or companies putting out NFTs?
Micah Johnson 23:45
Look, I think the future of NF T’s is not going to be in the thing that it is within the forward facing thing that it did. I think the future of it is going to be in the accessibility. And you know, the maybe it’s gated content, or content creation, ownership, and provability. I think that is the future. Music is getting that right music, I don’t envision a world anymore where music won’t be tied to some kind of NFT in some way, shape, or form.
It’s designed for music. I also think it’s designed for content creators. If you think about it, content creators for so long have been posting stuff on Instagram and YouTube trying to get these followings to get ad revenue. That is a very, very, very, very 0.00 percentage of what the actual company is making. So NFTs fix that. So I think that is the future that you’re going to see here. Right now, everybody’s just getting in trying to figure it out, right, which is part of the process. You might not like some of the stuff they’re putting out or things like that, or people might think it’s like weird looking, but it’s all part of the process figured out then everybody starts speaking and now you’re gonna see a bunch of innovation. Incredible innovation.
Dan Runcie 24:55
Yeah, that’s a good way to look at it because I think in your space and in a few other creative spaces, the assets that you were creating still held tremendous value in the real world. And these are things that could appreciate in value. And the market recognize that for musicians, it was the exact opposite, where we saw this decrease over time. And as technology made it more abundant, it became less valuable in terms of just how much you’re getting paid per stream. So when I’m seeing artists that are doing more creative things, putting it out there, it leverages what’s there.
But it also flips the dynamic back to what it was back in the days when they were selling CDs, and they were taking home $5 for every $20 sale of the CD. Or to some extent, I mean, I think that the NBA trading cards probably fall a little bit closer to the artwork piece where you know, if you had the valuable Jordan rookie card, and we’re gonna appreciate the value over time and stuff like that. So I agree with that, I think the biggest value add opportunity seems to be for the creatives that were creating art that was marginalized in terms of its valued thanks to technology in the past decades or so.
Micah Johnson 26:05
And one sector, you know, I’m building out is sports, and athletes in general, not necessarily sports, like what NBA Top Shot is doing it, what they’re going to be doing is massive, they’re elite. But there’s another side of it, they came in at the very top level they had and it’s very difficult to come in at that top level, like the fanatics, where they’re getting licensing, you know, it’s expensive, they came in at the top level, and what they’re doing and what they’re going to build in the future is always going to be there.
I don’t think that’s a bubble. Don’t let the people fool you and try to get you to sell your cards. That’s not a bubble, what they bought a serious. But there’s another aspect that I’m interested as a former athlete, who wasn’t a superstar, but had a small window to leverage what I could do off the field to make money by leveraging my likeness. And that’s what I’m building out now is a platform that allows individual athletes to come out and tell their story, share their content, help them create NFTs if they don’t have some creative direction, and let them monetize their likeness. That’s kind of where I’m at. And kind of where I see the need, just for my experience.
Dan Runcie 27:11
That’s interesting. And I think that honestly, in some ways, aligns up with the music aspect to some extent, if I’m just kind of connecting the dots, because if you are an athlete, either a current or a former professional athlete, you have your story, there are people that would value to hear that story. But right now, at least most of the people would go the traditional route, where it’s like, let me try to get the interview with x person. And they’re the ones that have the IP for that. They’re the ones that own everything from that. So if you could own that, and I think we see some of this shifting where it’s like, okay, you see LeBron has Uninterrupted and SpringHill and a few of the others.
Micah Johnson 27:49
Oh, there’s tons of those. There’s tons of those and maybe not on LeBron’s level. But there are tons of those more than so than ever athletes are thinking off the field, like I’m answering text all the time from teammates, athletes, like, what’s Dapper Labs? What is this? What is this company? What does this NFT do? What does this tech do, right? More so than ever, they’re empowered to make money off the field.
It’s great to see, it’s just the content distribution hasn’t really caught up yet, which, you know, was an area I said, Okay, this hasn’t caught up yet. Obviously, I’ve been in an empty space a while. This is what we need, then, you know, brought on one of the best content partners in shadowline, co-founded by Tom Brady. Okay, let’s go get content. Like, let’s take your ability to get content, let’s take my abilities to understand the need from an athlete perspective, but also what we can do with that content. And let’s help these guys, let’s build this and help them monetize their story. tell it how they want to, yeah.
Dan Runcie 28:47
That’s great. I like that. It does seem like I know, you mentioned that first and foremost, the art piece of this is what you enjoy most is what you want to do. But naturally, there are more business or opportunities that you do want to be able to expand to. And especially I’m sure you probably got more inquiries after Aky and that NFT blew up.
What do your days look like now because I’m sure you probably still want to spend as much as your day creating and thinking about what the evolution of your art will be. But you also are a creative entrepreneur. And there are other administrative tasks that I’m sure you want to do.
Micah Johnson 29:25
I’m building man is right now to build mode. And that’s it. My art blew up last summer and I’ve dedicated my time to that like I was painting all day getting better, better, better, better. I said I was gonna take a break will aku happen edge tapping the path for my building. other opportunities presented itself right.
So right now, my days are 6am to 11pm because people on the west coast is still awake at 8pm so they’re all day right now. This is how I think of it. You have Sprint’s you have breaks like that, you know like the — used to do back in the day. In class where you have to like the the leader has to sprint up, then you would chill for a minute. Right now I’m in a sprint. And then hopefully I could take a break. But right now there’s a lot of chances to build and bring people along with you and do something that could benefit a lot of people and benefit my family. So each day I wake up and don’t think anything of it.
Dan Runcie 30:19
That makes sense. It’s like, if you are someone that is a creative in this space, there are going to be moments where, okay, there’s a stride to hit right now, when in order to set things up for the future, whether that’s decades and generations, you got to kind of take those opportunities and ride them and maximize them when the window of opportunity is there.
Micah Johnson 30:37
Yeah, even with Aku, like, that’s moving a lot faster than I expected it to move, right, obviously had every vision in place, but it’s moving a lot faster than you expected. Getting that whole entity in place with people to actually know what they’re talking about what they know how to push product, how they know how to get it on the big screen, and different things like that, which I believe is what great businesses do and great like founders do is they say, Okay, I’m not good at this, but I need to get this person, this person in this person. And personally, I’d rather build something amazing, and retain less equity than have a bunch of equity of something that’s just average.
Dan Runcie 31:15
It’s interesting, because I wonder if other artists would feel that same type of way. And in some ways, it’s a bit refreshing to hear the bounce, because I feel like there’s so many creatives that, you know, they’d rather own the bigger slice of the smaller pie and have more control as opposed.
Micah Johnson 31:30
Which is fine, which is completely fine. Like, because there are just like, you know, I would love like, if my brain works, I get this paint and think my brain is everywhere, man. Just why red, just go and go go and drink coffee all day. I admired that, honestly, that people just paint and they can do something like a perfect example would be like those pop ourselves telling you about their style has never changed. Like they know exactly what they’re doing.
And everything they do is the exact same quality, same look, you know exactly whose work it is. and incredibly successful, worldwide renowned. I admire those people. Because I’m like, you know, that’s really impressive. For me, I look at it more as from the business perspective, you know, our business entities, it’s a perfect timing, man, I feel like I was born in the right time, where where I can fuse both of those together somehow,
Dan Runcie 32:15
Really is man, it’s dope. Let’s fast forward five years. What does the Aku universe look like? What are the other ways that he is being involved? What are the other ways that he is being seen and immersed with the world?
Micah Johnson 32:32
In five years, I mean, I’d be very disappointed if Aku was not a motion picture. But also very disappointed if there’s not a venture arm from Aku Inc, that can invest in companies. And this is my thesis behind that is: I want to invest in companies that my grandparents who are born in like the deepest south of like, middle of nowhere, would be like, there’s no chance you could ever be better to be on the cap table for that company. And that’s my thesis behind that venture arm of Aku Inc. And then I wanted to Aku Inc where it’s not “A” character. But it’s an enterprise of characters of programs of platforms, led by a Black founder, led by Black characters. I don’t think that is far fetched to think that’s my complete vision, to be honest with you. Sure, a show the gray and all that. But I think having more characters and encouraging other black creators, black animators to come out their own shows and have a monarch who the Aku network. That’s my big plan.
Dan Runcie 33:34
I love it. I think you’re onto something special man is going to be exciting to watch.
Micah Johnson 33:38
Yeah, definitely. It’s fun, man. If I fail, I failed to keep it moving, man. But I’m working. I don’t think about family.
Dan Runcie 33:45
Definitely not. Definitely not. before we let you go and wrap up, is there anything else that you want to plug or let the Trapital audience know about?
Micah Johnson 33:53
This is the most important thing, I think, for the NFT space. And as a Black creator, Black founder, the space is full of Black creative of great ones. Not enough, but trust me the same rules apply not getting the intention that we deserve. But we’re going to change that. But what’s really want to make that needle move, and let us really lead the entire planet, lead the space and make sure we have a major part in is having black collectors in the space.
So you know, there’s plenty of Black collectors buying physical work, and there’s plenty of black collectors collecting in the physical assets. What’s gonna really move the needle is once they come and start collecting, it was really cool because you know, Pusha T collected our clues, you know, NFT, right? And it’s like that really riled lot people up like, this is really cool. Imagine if more collectors come in the space can have a really good major impact on the trajectory of Black art in this field that could just wait around forever.
Dan Runcie 34:52
That’s great. Well, I’m sure the folks listening we’re definitely going to tap in because I know a lot of people have been like, hey, how can I get more involved in this space? What can I learn? And honestly, whether it’s the Black folks or even people that are just generally working in music, so many people are trying to figure this space out and that was one of the reasons it was great to have you on.
Micah Johnson 35:12
Hit me. My DMs are open for a reason. Hit me. I want to bring on an onboard as many people as possible.
Dan Runcie 35:19
That’s great. What are your handles just so people listening can find you?
Micah Johnson 35:22
@micah_johnson3 across the board. That’s where it’s at. Instagram, Twitter, @micah_johnson3.
Dan Runcie 35:29
Micah, it was a pleasure, man. Thanks for coming on.
Micah Johnson 35:31
Great, and I really appreciate it.
Dan Runcie 35:34
If you enjoyed this podcast, go ahead and share it with a friend. Copy the link texted to a friend posted in your group chat posted in your slack groups. Wherever you and your people talk, spread the word. That’s how Trapital continues to grow and continues to reach the right people.
And while you’re at it, if you use Apple Podcast, go ahead rate the podcast give it a high rating and leave a review. Tell people why you like the podcast that helps more people discover the show. Thank you in advance. Talk to you next week.