The following is an amended transcript of the conversation with @ricgalbraith from the Write Way Artist Spotlight with @AnarothsNFT on February 18th. Some notable works of his include: Tales From the Glitch, Shroom Heads, and Punks Comic Issue #01. Read below to discover advice, perspective, and tips for artists at any level.
I feel like the luckiest guy in the world a lot of the time, having relationships with these artists.
Anaroth: Thank you for joining us today on the Write Way Artist Spotlight. For those not familiar with you or your work, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Galbraith: My name is Richard Galbraith, just Galbraith on Twitter. I studied Journalism as a kid, and when I went to off to Uni I immediately wanted to become involved as music journalist, I was fortunate enough to do quite well. I was the music header of the universities magazine, while I was there I set up my own music magazine. After I graduated I was trying to break into that same type of industry and I kind of accidentally fell into social media and Web 2 back in 2006, 2007. Hence kind of signing up to all these social media platforms early on. I just signed up as Ric Galbraith, this was before there was talk around being Anon & Doxed wasn’t even a word back then. Most people just signed up as themselves to a lot of platforms.
I started off as this creative copywriter and built a skill over the years into becoming good social media strategist. I worked for Royal Dutch Shell, and Lego. Mostly I was based in London, but all the time during the course of this professional career, which paid the bills, and it was fairly enjoyable. It provided me with a with a nice life, I got to travel a lot, and I got to work with some really interesting people. But all this time my real passion and driver was writing. The career path I took progressed from being a copywriter into being a strategist, and that was fine. It facilitated me still having a creative side. It allowed me to be a storyteller, but more in a marketing sense. I found myself carrying on with my writing in in the evenings over a very long and extended period of time over the last 15 years.
I had my first novel out in 2009 and that was funded by an English Arts Council Grant which I was really proud to get a hold of. This was the start of my collaborative cross-media journey. I got five bands and five artists to create original music and art based around five themes of the novel. Two thousand word extracts based on Love, Madness, Anger, Jealousy and Desire, they went off and created something original from. In the end we had a 72 page Art Book, FiveTrack Music Album, and Novel with a seven day interactive Art Literature and Music Exhibition based in East London. It was amazing and was my first real foray into cross-media and I loved it. I’m relatively good at at producing as well, so that helped facilitate the cross-media focus. It can be difficult to organize people or actually be able to interact and engage with them. That just set me on this path with my writing where I did a lot of my own stuff, but also enjoyed the cross-media.
Almost 10 years later in like 2017–2018, with 3D Render artists gaining traction on Instagram. I started noticing these amazing artists who were utilizing Instagram as a platform to increase their profile and show off their work. I started thinking, maybe they would like to collaborate? Maybe I could write stories based on their work? Maybe they can create work based on my stories? I kicked off with this project called Concrete Operational, which is when I first got talking to Beeple and I reached out to him. I was like I love your work can I write stories on it? He was like yeah dude, that sounds amazing! His gave me access to the drop box and then that got me some attention, I really enjoyed writing those stories. Because of this collaboration / relationship with Mike, I was introduced to NFTs in late 2020. My first one that I bought was a Beeple in December 2020 and then the rest is history.
I’ve been involved in the NFT space as a writer, as a storyteller, and as a narrative developer for the last 12 months now. Working with some of the best digital artists in the world and enjoying it a lot. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world a lot of the time, having relationships with these artists.
Anaroth: How do you go about building the world first? Are you thinking about your characters and then how they interact with the world or vice versa?
**Galbraith: **It is an interesting question, it’s something that I’ve been able to do with Stefan because of my background in novels. The Neon Concrete series that I did with Beeple and another digital 3D render artist called also Ozhichige comes to mind as well. We ended up doing 13 short stories which ranged from 2000 - 8000 words over a period of about a year and a half. This world developed out of it, which I ended up calling Major Prime. A cyberpunk megalopolis where all of the stories ended up happening. That kind of just happened organically as part of the experimental process of doing that collaboration and developing that series.
That gave me a good grounding and footing alongside my novel writing when Stefan approached me. He was like:
“I have this idea called Cycle of the Shroom. It is the precursor of an ongoing short story series of Shroom Heads and I want to develop this world. But I don’t know really how to do it, how to bring it together in narrative and I’m hoping you might be able to help me out with this.”
This is my Bread and butter, I can absolutely do that! So where do you start with that? I mean, Stefan had a few ideas:
For me when I am starting something like this, it’s all about motivation. You’ll hear writers whether they’re doing a sitcom, a cyberpunk book, a fantasy novel, or whatever. They are always asking what’s the motivation for the characters? Once you’ve have motivation you can build the world out around it, and then start filling in all of the details.
So we’ve got these Shroom Heads. I have this guy called Pinky who’s the head of the gang. His motivation is to become the drug dealer kingpin of the world. He has this special way of growing psychedelic mushrooms on the bodies of dead people. Semi-dead people, that he keeps alive to grow the mushrooms. He wants to be the lead gangster .
Then you have roles within the gang. One is his Lieutenant, his left or right hand man / woman. They want to be his protector, but also want the gang to do well. Then there’s young people or newbies who come into the faction or the gang to try and work their way up the ranks. Or maybe just as a way to get off the streets. You can start filling in all the characters from that, and then the world naturally expands around that. I always had this idea in my head for ages, and have been a little bit obsessed with the Bermuda Triangle. I always wanted to make a replica of the Bermuda Triangle. The idea of what the Bermuda Triangle is into something else, and make it a bit more sci-fi, a bit more cyberpunk. So then I got this NEO-Budapest Triangle. Full of rival gangs that that are trying to supply this mushroom. What happened before then? How did we get to this point? And then you want to add a little bit of context and a little bit of history around that world.
Then you utilize tropes. Tropes are there for a reason, and you don’t want to be like too trope heavy, but they are there because there are certain dynamics and rules to storytelling that people enjoy. The reason people go back to Marvel or Pixar movies or certain types of Writers is because they use these tropes that people can recognize. You might have an anti-hero, or heroes journey, you might have a world such as the Neo Budapest Triangle? Where there was some sort of big colossal incident, and then that incident created this new world. Thats what happens in Akira, Tokyo gets gets blown up, and then you have this new Neo Tokyo that comes out of the ashes of this old world.
This NEO Budapest Triangle, a colossal city that managed to rise out of the ashes of the old Europe. There’s many different facets to it, obviously, and one is developing characters and what their motivations are. Then you have an environment which either suits their motivations or in some ways actually conflicts with their motivations to give them a struggle. That’s what a good character has, this story arc which contains struggle or conflict. You then get to resolve that conflict at the end if you’re writing in a linear fashion or novel. With Shroom Heads and Cycle of the Shroom, we don’t know when it’s going to end. We want to do all of these things, and we’re just having an immense amount of fun with it. At the moment we are building out this world and exploring it. Doing the background for 100 characters is a bit of a task, and building out this world with intricate stories, background and history is also quite a big task, but it’s also a lot of fun.
**Anaroth: **With that amount of detail and your larger body of work, what advice do you have for people to stay organized?
**Galbraith: **From a very basic standpoint, have a strong and regularly updated set of To Do lists. If each project needs its own To Do List, then each project needs its own To Do List. Trying to remain organized with everything in your head, rather than written down is extremely difficult. I’ve found over the years, and have experienced myself, that people who don’t write things down get a little bit chaotic. They can be a little bit disorganized and forget about things. The thing is, if you’re trying to keep so much stuff in your head, it actually negates or hinders your ability to be creative. You want to free up as much of your mental capacity to be creative as possible. By writing everything down you don’t have to remember everything about the motivations of characters or details of the world. You can focus on creating rather than trying to remember exactly what needs to be done.
Learn how to prioritize your work, and that’s a really good start. It’s an ongoing struggle, theres so much going on at the moment and I am getting so many DM’s from people. I wanna work with everybody, thats the crazy kind of situation that I’m in at the moment. People coming to me with legitimate and amazing collaborations, and I’m having to prioritize what I do with with that. That’s a struggle because like I said, I do want to work with everybody, but there’s only so many hours in the day.
It can be quite easy to get overwhelmed in this space, and I’ve seen a number of people over the 12-14 months that i’ve been here, on Twitter, essentially an entrepreneur as well as a as a creative or an artist. It’s difficult for people to manage and juggle and people get burnt out. Try and offload as much out of your mind into writing things down. It gives you the extra mental capacity to be creative and focused on the things that you want to focus on.
Everybody falls down at one point, you can only run on cortisol and coffee for so long, some people manage it well. Some people have challenges with it, and I kind of come out in the middle. I’m OK most of the time, and then I’ll just be like oh shit! I actually am feeling that I need a bit of space at the moment. I’ll step back from Twitter and discord and everything else for a couple of days. Read my book, have a couple of beers, go for a couple walks ,and do some training. Things to clear my head and then I can come back into it. Not letting yourself get burnt out and trying to enjoy the process is important. There’s no golden ticket to to learning how to prioritize. It’s really difficult and you have to set your own rules. Obviously if you’ve got more of an office job where you something’s coming from your boss, you’re like, OK, I need to do this, because if I don’t, I’m going to be in trouble with with my boss. I hope that kind of answers the question.
**Anaroth: **When you think about the evolution of story within web3, what are some changes that you expect to see?
**Galbraith: **Innovation, the whole space is innovative because it’s all so new. However, what Alpha Centauri Kid is doing, for me, is really innovative the way he’s telling a story via blockchain rather than just having lore on a website. The arc you know, Intro, Conflict Resolution, and how a story is told. What is contained in the story won’t change very much, because again, there’s reasons why people go back to certain tropes. Having a certain way of telling stories because we like it, we engage, we recognize it. But how do we use Web3? Telling these stories is what’s going to be the really interesting part, how a smart contract facilitates a new paradigm in entertainment. You can go into this world and follow a trail of bread crumbs via, the Ledger and and via the blockchain. Maybe it involves some sort of investigatory kind of challenge that you have to do. If you find one thing, then something else happens, and if you mint something over here then something else happens over there. So for me, that’s kind of really where the evolution comes in.
Like I said, story probably won’t change that much, but the use of the technology is where it starts to get really interesting. This is why I’ve sat on my third novel that’s part of a trilogy. I want to try and utilize Web3 to get this published and read. I don’t want to just mint the novel as an NFT. It’s going to be an innovative use of the technology in itself, beyond if you buy this you can read this book. How do I use the the this technology to to bring the book to life in a way that’s not been done before? Storytelling is taking a bit of a moment in finding a new platform to tell stories through. Which hasn’t really been explored before, and I think that is really interesting.
**Anaroth: **Is there a specific universe or time period of your career that you look back on as a favorite?
Galbraith: I feel like with the original novel, that collaborative media project back in 2009. That was a moment of actualization for me. When everything came together and we had the launch night in London. Hundreds of people showed up, they’re all looking at the art, listening to the music, reading the excerpts, and buying my book. There was a band playing, I did a reading and it was a really amazing moment. I was quite young, 26 or 27 at the time, and it was a very proud moment for me. I’ve been fortunate to have had some other similar moments, moments of actualization where you have a confluence of things and activities and work. The blood, sweat and tears kind of come together and you do something that you are extremely proud of.
March and April of last year was was really phenomenal. I was able to get the project onto Makers Place which was always a goal for me to have a project on a curated platform. I was proud to be able to do that. I’ve got a half decent body of work now and it just been a long kind of journey. I do have some really really nice moments that I’ve been able to be proud of. The Neon & Concrete series, there was never really a solid end to that. I might still go back to it if I get some time in the future.
The Beeple stories did very well on Reddit. The first time that I broke 10,000 reads on the platform Medium was really nice because I had been struggling to get an audience and readership for a while. It just felt very validating. Within the NFT space I wrote the first Punks Comic, which was a really amazing project to have been involved with right at the beginning. I got a lot of kudos for that which was great. Now I’m working with Loopify writing the the the Arcadia trilogy. So when that is finally completed and released, that’ll be a really amazing thing.
I know I am very fortunate to have had these really amazing moments with all these amazing artists over the years, and actually in the last 12 months as well. There’s actually a few things I’m working on in the background at the moment, which I can’t really talk about because I’m figuring out what my role is going to be with with these artists. A couple of really amazing and prominent people asked me to come on as a writer for them because they’ve seen my work. They’ve seen how I understand and engage with the community. There’s been a lot. I’ve got a bit done and I’m very lucky to have had the opportunities that I’ve got. At the same time though, there’s a lot of hard work. I won’t let anybody say that it was a fluke because I’ve been trying to do this for 20 years now. I wouldn’t want to single out one single one because they all meant different things to me at different times, and in different stages of my writing career.
**Anaroth: **Lastly, what’s important in your life right now? What are you working on? What do you want people to know about?
**Galbraith: **We’re really building out a long term IP here with Shroom Heads, we’ve got a lot that we that we want to do, including this ongoing series of stories which is in the NEO Budapest Triangle called Cycle of the Shroom. The characters from Shroom Heads are in the Cycle of the Shroom storytelling, which is then, hopefully going be a graphic novel and maybe an animation later on.
I’m working with Baka Arts on Ether Tales as well. We’ve got some new stuff coming out in the near future. Baka is regarded as one of the leaders in the spaces. I’ve been helping him develop the Ether Tales world for the last 12 months, and we’ve got some new stuff coming out around that. Then there’s my own projects. Tales from the Glitch, I’ve been working on the next drop for that, and with some really amazing artists who I be able to share a fairly soon. We’re in the process of developing our own smart contract and website for that.
With Punk Fiction, I do actually work with the punks that we produce the stories around to try and bring their personality to life and into these stories. So they’re a collaboration in a slightly different way. I think those are probably the big things at the moment. I’ve got a bunch of other stuff baking away in the background, some collaborative pieces which are coming up i’m really excited about but can’t really talk about at the moment.
**Anaroth: **Thank you again for taking time to share your perspective, thoughts, and best practices with our listeners and readers. This has been the Hyype Write Way Spaces, thank you for tuning in.
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