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  • Writer's pictureJeff WIlson

SXSW Art the Masses: Daily Concepts & Artist Statement

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Artist Statement

As an artist, longtime resident of Austin, and frequent SXSW attendee and presenter, I am fascinated by the constant evolution and change of both the city and conference.

I am a longtime creative, techie, and innovator. I love this town and am drawn (and inspired by) the SXSW conference, the communities, futures, and the better future both provide.

Last year, I dropped my first NFT fine art collection made up of daily pieces created on the fly based on the day’s events and experiences. It was my first attempt at NFTs and making my art public.

This collection follows that up with the same daily drop throughout SXSW 2023.

My overall body of work represents a fusion of old and new, highlighting qualities of old school principles with modern compositions, tools, and techniques. I am painting a picture of today’s “digital” fine art as the latest generation in a long lineage of fine art history.

In this collection, “SXSW Art the Masses”, each daily piece is again a reflection of the day’s events.

The focus this year, however, will represent “solutions”, the core of how evolution and innovation work - and of both Austin and SXSW alike.

Today’s heartaches feed tomorrow’s innovations.

My personal view of both SXSW and Austin is that both solve problems by bringing diverse and disparate people together for a week, year after year, or for generations.

Through my art, I aim to visualize the possibilities of what can be accomplished when people from diverse backgrounds and ideas come together around shared goals.

I believe that Austin is a place that can unite people, and conferences like SXSW bring individuals together to share diverse ideas and present tomorrow’s opportunities.

This collection comes from immersing myself in the mass of people, the throngs, the conference halls, the dance floors, the innovations, the sessions, the crazy, the traffic, the neighborhoods, the quiet zones, the small interactions, and, most importantly, the people.

I choose one moment. I drop. Every day. (Well, probably, the next morning 🙄).

My artistic style is a blend of old-school printing characteristics with modern tools, compositions, and approaches, creating digital art that is relevant but with a nod to it’s ancestry.

My aim is to highlight the value and growth of the future, while still paying homage to the past.

My art collection resonates with those who have experienced SXSW and Austin, or any evolving community, capturing the spirit of the conference and the city for those who are less familiar.

I hope to showcase the best points of SXSW and Austin's culture, inspiring others to join in creating a better tomorrow for all.

Art has the power to visualize what we can accomplish when working together. As Austin grows (and changes), as conferences like SXSW provide fresh innovations, I encourage you to take part in experiencing today and envisioning a better tomorrow.

Your pal,





Day 1 (Traffic)

SXSW Day 1: ONLY BIKE BUS (Traffic)

Digital Etching, 2023

6000x6000 pixels, 1200 PPI

SXSW Day 1: ONLY BIKE BUS (Traffic)
SXSW Day 1: ONLY BIKE BUS (Traffic)

If there's one thing Austinites like to complain about, it's "Traffic". It's right up there with transplants (with their cars) and mega-conferences (with their congestion).

Light-hearted urban gripes aside, "Traffic" is a major concern for any growing community.

"Traffic", from air quality to noise pollution, is environmentally and emotionally taxing, limits business growth, and stifles opportunities for marginalized families pushed farther to the outskirts as urban growth abounds.

Cities are growing. People are looking for opportunities. And business needs people. Freedom of movement is critical.

There is certainly no shortage of innovation, leaders, and trending approaches. But this is a never-ending issue. As cities grow and new ideas are put in place, new concerns and factors will continue surfacing.

Each community (from neighborhoods to city, state, and federal levels) needs to consider and plan for the impacts of sprawl and tightening spaces for all to thrive.

Each community owns their solutions that meet their current and future needs.

But, working together locally AND collaborating more broadly, we can leverage innovation at scale, promote ideas, and learn from each other to provide opportunities while keeping the spaces we love clean, comfortable, and accessible for all.


Day 2 (Inclusion)

SXSW Day 2: Sounds gay. I’m in. (Inclusion)

Digital Etching, 2023

6000x6000 pixels, 1200 PPI

SXSW Day 2: Sounds gay. I’m in. (Inclusion)
SXSW Day 2: Sounds gay. I’m in. (Inclusion)

Not your typical SXSW moment but every bit a touching father/son interaction (if you could have heard their discussion). The beauty of Austin, much like family, is you get all types. That blend gives depth, range, and richness.

Inclusion is a critical issue for any community to thrive. From workplaces to schools to neighborhoods, a lack of inclusion leads to missed opportunities, increased isolation, and limited growth. Inclusion means creating environments where everyone feels valued, respected, and able to contribute their unique perspectives.

Inclusive communities are diverse communities. This means valuing differences in age, gender, race, religion, orientation, and abilities. It also means creating spaces where all voices are heard and all perspectives are valued.

But creating inclusive communities requires more than just good intentions. It requires action. This can mean everything from creating more accessible public spaces to addressing systemic barriers that prevent marginalized groups from fully participating in community life.

Inclusive communities also require ongoing effort. It's not enough to simply check the box and move on. We must constantly work to ensure that everyone feels welcome and supported.

But the rewards of inclusive communities are well worth the effort. Inclusive communities are stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to address the challenges of our rapidly changing world. By working together to create inclusive spaces for all, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive.


Day 3 (Green Spaces)

SXSW Day 3: Day of Rest (Green Spaces)

Digital Etching, 2023

6000x6000 pixels, 1200 PPI

SXSW Day 3: Day of Rest (Green Spaces)
SXSW Day 3: Day of Rest (Green Spaces)

From sessions to parties to events, conferences like SXSW can be grueling if one does not take a breather.

Similarly, if there's one thing that residents of urban areas crave, it's green spaces. Amid the hustle and bustle of city life, green spaces provide much-needed respite, from a place to relax and unwind to a place to exercise and connect with nature.

But green spaces are more than just pretty places. They have numerous benefits for both individuals and communities. Green spaces improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, and provide essential habitats for wildlife. They also provide a space for community gatherings, from picnics to concerts to farmers markets.

However, green spaces are not always easy to come by in urban areas. As cities grow and development spreads, green spaces can often be lost in the shuffle. This is especially true in marginalized communities, where green spaces may be seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.

But green spaces are essential for everyone, and every community deserves access to them. From community gardens to pocket parks to urban forests, there are many ways to incorporate green spaces into urban areas.

Creating and maintaining green spaces requires effort and investment, but the benefits are clear. By prioritizing green spaces, we can improve the health and well-being of our communities while also promoting sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change.

Let's work together to create more green spaces in our urban areas, ensuring that everyone has access to the beauty and benefits of nature.


Day 4 (Gentrification)

SXSW Day 4: Goodbye Frank (Gentrification)

Digital Etching, 2023

10667x6000 pixels, 264 PPI

SXSW Day 4: Goodbye, Frank (Gentrification)
SXSW Day 4: Goodbye, Frank (Gentrification)

Gentrification is a complex issue that has both positive and negative impacts on urban areas. On the one hand, gentrification can bring new life and energy to struggling neighborhoods, attract new businesses, and increase property values. But on the other hand, it can also displace longtime residents, erode community ties, and exacerbate inequality.

To address the negative aspects of gentrification, we need to approach the issue with nuance and sensitivity. We need to recognize that not all neighborhoods are the same, and that what works in one community may not work in another.

One key solution to the negative impacts of gentrification is to prioritize affordable housing. As property values rise, it becomes increasingly difficult for low-income residents to afford to live in their communities. By creating and preserving affordable housing options, we can help ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of a thriving neighborhood.

Another solution is to prioritize community engagement and collaboration. Gentrification can often feel like a top-down process, with newcomers dictating the direction of the neighborhood. By involving longtime residents in the planning process and prioritizing their needs and concerns, we can help create a more inclusive and equitable community.

Finally, we need to be mindful of the cultural and historical significance of neighborhoods. Gentrification can often erase the unique character and history of a neighborhood, leading to a loss of identity and sense of place. By celebrating and preserving the cultural heritage of a community, we can help ensure that it remains a vibrant and thriving part of the city.

In short, gentrification is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By prioritizing affordable housing, community engagement, and cultural preservation, we can help create thriving neighborhoods that benefit everyone.


Day 5 (Homelessness)

SXSW Day 5: Fail (Homelessness)

Digital Etching, 2023

6000x10667 pixels, 264 PPI

SXSW Day 5: Fail (Homelessness)
SXSW Day 5: Fail (Homelessness)

"Fail" is not a description of those I met on the street. "Fail" is me.

I purposely added me to the piece because this is more a commentary on the privileged than on those who need help and respect.

This piece failed to live up to the original plan of getting to know someone before capturing their story. Feeling guilty about paying a few bucks to "get to know" someone and take a few pictures seemed disingenuous. While I handed out some money and chatted with several people, all I ended up capturing was a handful of awkward selfies generally keeping the homeless at arms length.

This was the opposite of my intentions but does a good job at describing how easy it is to feel uneasy, fail to connect with real people personally, and how hard it is to get past that initial awkwardness.

Homelessness is a pervasive issue that affects many urban areas. It is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted approach. While it is easy to feel uneasy and fail to connect with homeless individuals, it is important to remember that they are real people facing real challenges.

We need to recognize that homelessness is often a symptom of larger systemic issues such as poverty, income inequality, and lack of access to healthcare.

We need to approach the issue with compassion and respect. Homeless individuals deserve to be treated with dignity and understanding. We need to engage with them as fellow human beings, not as objects of pity or charity.

Finally, we need to be aware of our own privilege and biases. We need to acknowledge that homelessness is not a personal failing, but often a symptom of larger societal and environmental issues. By listening to the voices and experiences of those experiencing homelessness, we can better understand the root causes of the issue and work towards long-term solutions.


Day 6 (Supporting the Arts)

SXSW Day 6: Yo, Man, Anything’s Appreciated (Supporting the Arts)

Digital Etching, 2023

6000x10667 pixels, 264 PPI

SXSW Day 6: Yo, Man, Anything’s Appreciated (Supporting the Arts)
SXSW Day 6: Yo, Man, Anything’s Appreciated (Supporting the Arts)

Supporting the arts is a critical component of any thriving community. The arts provide an avenue for creative expression, cultural exchange, and personal growth.

However, funding for the arts is often limited and undervalued.

To support the arts, we need to prioritize public funding, education, and community engagement.

  • Public funding is critical to ensure that artists and cultural institutions have the resources they need to create and share their work.

  • Education is also essential to foster an appreciation for the arts and to nurture future generations of artists.

  • Community engagement is key to creating a vibrant arts scene. We need to encourage collaboration between artists and community members, and make the arts accessible to everyone. This can be achieved through free or low-cost performances and exhibitions, community outreach programs, and public art installations.

Further, we need to recognize the value of diverse perspectives and experiences in the arts. It is necessary to embrace and celebrate the full spectrum of cultural expression, from traditional art forms to contemporary works.

Community support not only benefits artists and cultural institutions, but also to the broader community. A thriving arts scene can attract tourism, spur economic growth, and enhance overall quality of life.

Supporting the arts is vital to creating a vibrant and equitable society. By prioritizing public funding, education, and community engagement, celebrating diverse perspectives and experiences, and recognizing the broader benefits of the arts, we can create a more creative, connected, and culturally rich world for all.

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