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When Garrett Schultz bid adieu to curating Random Ghost, the cyberpunk community he built from scratch, it came as a surprise. He'd recently transitioned from virtual to physical, curating and hosting four live cyberpunk events (or volumes) for the first time last year. While this spurred the brand into exponential growth—it didn't lead to his own true happiness.


“I’d get this ecstatic, amazing experience for like four hours, and then crash. It was fun but so exhausting. But still, I was hooked on it."

In the aftermath of Volume 4, a long repressed feeling breached an internal understanding: "It’s an amazing experience to receive praise for something you’ve created, but it’s fleeting. What’s a temporary moment of fulfillment in an endless struggle that ultimately amounts to nothing?"

 

Cyberpunk Vol. 3, held at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles, March 2022


Garrett, with a limited edition Random Ghost cosplay blade
Garrett, with a limited edition Random Ghost cosplay blade

Fate Finds Random Ghost. For those who don’t know, who is the curator behind the curtain?


I’m Garrett. For the last 12 years I’ve run a cyberpunk inspiration blog and brand called Random Ghost. I’ve always been into aesthetics and world building, so this was a way for me to explore that. Outside of that, my career has been in graphic design and art direction. Currently, I’m creative director at Blockade Labs, a company that creates AI tools for game developers. I actually got the job because of my work with Random Ghost since at the time they were working on a cyberpunk videogame.


How did Random Ghost originate?


My friend and I co-founded a little game studio. As we tried to figure out what the game would be, I fell into my first role as an art director — exploring the visual elements of a new world. It was really fun! I got to imagine anything. I loved the process of digging, finding, collecting, gathering, sorting and filtering until I got somewhere that seemed special. At the time, I’d been learning about cyberpunk through a game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and the art director, Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, was my industry idol. I learned as much as I could from what he was doing and how he did it. His approach of bringing cyberpunk into the current era while fusing it with other elements became a big influence for me. We spent a few years working at the game, but it never came out. However, that formative time kicked off my journey. The Random Ghost blog began as a collection of influences and inspirations for the project before taking on a life of its own.

 
Superchief Gallery LA at capacity for Cyberpunk Vol. 3
Superchief Gallery LA at capacity for Cyberpunk Vol. 3
 

When did you realize Random Ghost was starting to evolve?


When I noticed other people started to think it was cool. I never planned for it to be public, but Tumblr was an interesting space when I started. Pages were judged by overall presentation, so the space felt like it was run by a bunch of little curators. After a few years of blogging I understood the styles, subjects, and themes I did and didn’t like and the Random Ghost world really started to form inside my head. I got better at filtering my content and communicating my views and found myself in this vibrant community where I felt like I had an influential voice. At one point the top cyberpunk tumblr accounts united to create a larger community of cyberpunk enthusiasts, and I ended up running it. I discovered I loved to bring this niche together. By the time Tumblr faded, I thought there might be enough traction to transition to other platforms. I started a Random Ghost Instagram which blew up quickly, then my website, merch store, Twitter, and eventually I threw physical events.

Celebrating the first 5,000 followers on Tumblr, May 2015
Celebrating the first 5,000 followers on Tumblr, May 2015
 

How did you find artists?


At first, mostly on Tumblr and CGHub (RIP), and then on Instagram and Twitter. ArtStation has also become a fantastic go-to resource. I spent a lot of time roaming.

Many times I'll find art with a great perspective that might not be right for the page, but I’ll dig deeper into an artist’s work, follow the rabbit trail, and maybe find some top pieces to save to my list. I wound up finding and following so many amazing artists while building up all these long lists of my favorite art that might work for the page. My goal was to surface the best, so I’d intentionally save only the top 5% of what I like and only post the top 15% of that.


What I like about cyberpunk is that it can evolve and grow because it’s about the near future, and the near future is always changing because the present is always changing. Some are stuck on the retro aesthetic of the genre, but I was always bucking that idea and pushing for change. Cyberpunk that’s five to twenty-five years old is great, but it has its own place. How do we envision the near future from where we are now? What’s changed in the last five years to bring a new anxiety to humanity? What new possibilities are being explored? What is our future going to look like?

 

Did you discover any artists in particular that constantly evolved?

Oh yeah. My top is Ash Thorp. That guy is a constant legend. He’s been making hits longer than Random Ghost has been around. He relentlessly creates and continues to push the edge.


Maciej Kuciara is another huge one — he constantly leads the pack. Those two are the easy answers, but there are so many more.

 

Cyberpunk Vol. 4 at VRWorld NYC, New York City, June 2022


When did you host your first physical event?

Cyberpunk Vol. 1 featured 36 artists and simultaneous events in LA and NYC
Cyberpunk Vol. 1 featured 36 artists and simultaneous events in LA and NYC

Last year (2022), with Superchief Gallery. It was the realization of a vision I've had for years. The Random Ghost universe is made of more than just art — there’s music, design, story, and immersion. When NFTs boomed, it caught my attention. I was at an intersection where I had an audience who liked digital art, and I had a decade-long relationship with digital artists that knew and trusted me. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring those 2 things together. So when Superchief contacted me with a similar idea, it was an immediate yes.


There were four total Volumes (events) between Los Angeles and New York City. Volume Three was where I realized my vision the most. It was a fully immersive experience where you could walk into the unexpected. We had glowing fog. There was a laser grid when you walk through the front door. You could get a full 3D body scan of yourself and get live digital augmentation. The DJ booth was sitting on top of a car that looked like it was from Mad Max. The actual cyberpunk community showed up in cosplay. We packed the place out – the fire department even shut us down a little early. We did one a month in January, February and March. It was a bit much. I was exhausted but it was fun.


I wanted to throw more shows after Volume Four in New York City last June, but it never worked out, partially because the NFT market took a hit… but also because it was all or nothing for me. I didn’t want to dilute the experience or make compromises. I turned down opportunities if they weren’t right.


 

Can you break down all the work you did?


It ranged from a few hours a week of daily posting to a second full-time job, especially when it came to event planning. I ran Instagram, Twitter, Discord and the website, designed and sold merch, and did all the marketing and curating.

Garrett in his custom cyberpunk video display pack, Cyberpunk Vol. 4 in NYC
Garrett in his custom cyberpunk video display pack, Cyberpunk Vol. 4 in NYC

For the shows, I’d curate the art, message every artist, maintain massive spreadsheets with themes and art status, and operate as the point of contact and artist manager across the globe — with many who didn’t speak native English or had never touched NFTs before. I worked with the gallery on the music, event design, vendors, creators, and special details. I made the promo graphics and videos and then I promoted it. When everything was finished, I’d finally get to attend the show and feel the high of enjoying what I built. I’d get this ecstatic, amazing experience for like four hours, and then crash. The next morning, I’d grab all the social media material and reels before they expired in 24 hours, repost them, and try to promote sales. It was fun but so exhausting. But still, I was hooked on it. I’d be completely burnt out when I got home and more often than not I’d get sick. But then it didn’t take long at all to get excited to throw another one.

 

Cyberpunk Vol. 1 art preview shown in Times Square during NFT.NYC, November 2021


Is this what motivated you to pull the plug on Random Ghost?


No, actually. Despite all that, I was still pushing on with new ideas all the time. But there was also some stuff I was wrestling with along the way. I know to the outside, shutting Random Ghost down seemed sudden and unexpected. It was one of those things that kind of hit me. But on a deeper level, it was a nagging thought I’d kept repressed.


What I’m sure nobody knew is all this time behind the scenes I called myself a Christian. But I wasn’t living like one. You could even say I was ashamed of it. But the past year and half, during the surge of putting together the Cyberpunk shows, God had really been working on my heart. There was a moment last fall where I finally questioned myself: if I claim to believe in something but don’t do anything about it — is it truly belief? I knew if I didn’t act on my faith I was living a lie. So I stopped standing in the way of myself, holding onto some really long-held sins. I gave it up to God and repented. It was life-changing! I didn’t realize what I was missing out on. It brought a new sense of clarity and purpose and in this new perspective my stuff wasn’t so important any more.


So after that, I was committed to following God’s way, but I was also trying to figure out how to balance that with the twelve years spent building out Random Ghost. I knew my priorities were out of whack. I was praying about it, and still brainstorming ways to to rework it to be more balanced, held less tightly. I was almost ready to launch a new concept for a smaller ongoing series I’d been gathering artists for. But that nagging feeling remained. I knew for me, Random Ghost held too much of the old me that put my ways first. I needed to let go. After making the announcement to discontinue Random Ghost, a lot of people assumed I was burnt out and needed a break. But I honestly gave it up out of obedience. I knew it wasn’t going to fulfill me. I knew what I was called to do. So I went all in. It was another -whoa- moment — I felt strangely awesome killing something I’d held onto for so long.


A selection of Random Ghosts, an unreleased, AI-created series by Garrett
A selection of Random Ghosts, an unreleased, AI-created series by Garrett
 

What did you open yourself up to embrace instead?


There's a verse in the Bible that stuck out to me recently. 2 Peter 2:19, says, “for whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” That's what it was for me.

Acclaimed 3D NFT artist Beeple and Garrett at Cyberpunk Vol. 3
Acclaimed 3D NFT artist Beeple and Garrett at Cyberpunk Vol. 3

It felt like I was enslaved to something I thought was fun and engaging but was really just self-gratifying. I was serving it. And really, I was serving me.


So much of Random Ghost was about me: my pursuits, my ego, the praise of others, the way I was perceived.. Even the good feelings that came from helping others were rooted in pride. It was the fact that I made it happen, that it was because of my vision that this all exists… that’s ego.


It’s an amazing experience to receive praise for something you’ve created, but it’s fleeting. It provides just enough fulfillment to hook you into a never ending cycle of chasing what’s next. I fell for the bait. What’s a temporary moment of fulfillment in an endless struggle that ultimately amounts to nothing?


Expecting to find true fulfillment through Random Ghost was always a losing battle. Through God’s Word I know that the only lasting fulfillment comes through Him.

And I’ve seen this to be true!

 

How do you put God first? (and how is it possible to curate or make art without becoming a slave to it?)


Oh, we're getting deep now! Putting God first is simple but requires a lifetime of practice: read the Bible and apply what it says in faith that it’s true. It requires dedication, but it’s a joy. It gives you so much and really applies to all of life.


I do feel like I'm at a turning point where I need to figure out how my life should look, so I’m wrestling with this second question as well. I’m discovering how many of my life goals were wrapped up in my professional identity. For a long time it’s been essential to me to know that people acknowledge me for a certain level of quality, craftsmanship or perspective. It’s going to be difficult to move on from. But God’s promises are better.


Superchief Gallery’s screen wall at Cyberpunk Vol. 3, March 2022
Superchief Gallery’s screen wall at Cyberpunk Vol. 3, March 2022

God is creative, He’s the ultimate creator. It’s possible to be artistic, to curate, to design without becoming a slave to it. In fact, the Bible actually commands us to work hard, use our gifts, and appreciate life. So I think it’s a matter of perspective. It’s not easy. Life is a constant series of distractions, but I’m working toward a mindset that thinks eternally rather than right now, or even just this lifetime.


We’re all going to die, right? That’s a given. What happens after that? What makes anything worth it that you do now? There’s one way to make it worth it — and nothing else compares.

 

So how exactly do you save your soul?


We as humans actually can’t. God set the standard for righteousness required for eternal life and no one even comes close to reaching it. But the good news is God sent his son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, die in our place, and rise again — allowing us to take on his righteousness instead. It’s literally a free gift for anyone who puts their faith in Jesus and turns from their old ways!

I think for me, the reason I went so long believing these things but not truly seeing a change in my life is because I believed the facts, but didn’t actually put faith in it. And as I was saying before, if I believe in something but don’t do anything about it — is that actually faith? Or was I lying to myself by thinking I could do my own thing, my own way, while being “religious” or “spiritual” enough to achieve peace of mind? It’s easy, as humans, to lie to ourselves. We need to be careful and monitor whether or not we’re making things up to make ourselves feel better about the uncertainty of life and life after death.


Cyberpunk Vol. 4, held at VRWorld NYC, June 2022
Cyberpunk Vol. 4, held at VRWorld NYC, June 2022
 

How has life changed since making the announcement?


It's been fun, actually! I've been able to have conversations like this a lot more. And to be honest, I wasn’t before. I didn't want to. It was scary; a feeling I don’t naturally gravitate toward. It’s uncomfortable to put yourself out there in that way, you know? But it’s been fulfilling to just go for it in faith.


Apart from that, I've just been trying to use the time that I have to be more intentional with people, to give of myself and serve more. It’s a journey. I’m far from where I want to be, but it’s pretty cool to finally be taking the steps.


I don’t necessarily know what’s next yet. I just know I’m blessed and that I want to share my blessings. So thank you for being open to hear me out! I know that this is not a popular viewpoint. It’s refreshing to talk to someone that’s open to it.


And if anyone reading this has any follow-up thoughts or questions, please DM me at

Random Ghost. I’m happy to chat about anything.

FATE FINDS: RANDOM GHOST Q+A

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