Today, we’re chatting with Craig Bullock, a multi-talented and incredibly driven artist, teacher and social justice activist. Building on his own life experiences and vision for a better future, Craig has created Civil Liberty Publishing, a publishing house focused on the rights and passions of its artists.
Craig’s Official Bio:
Craig Ethan Bullock Jr., 25 years of age, is an extraordinary young man with an incredible mission to accomplish. Not only is he a 14-year veteran of writing and performing poetry, he is also an elective teacher at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, a published author, a PA Certified Armed Agent, an Epistemology enthusiast, a music recording artist and an Ordained Minister. In 2016 at the age of 24, this Philadelphia, PA native became the Founder and C.E.O. of Civil Liberty Publishing, founded by authors for authors. With each of his talents, he carries a message of self-empowerment, change and a message to raise awareness about the social injustice of racial inequality that minorities face every day.
Over the course of his life, Craig has overcome a number of obstacles by challenging them head-on and finding the strength inside to better his life. Against all odds, a few including extreme poverty, homelessness, drugs and gang violence, he was able to push forward and strive to be a better man not for himself, but for the betterment of the community. When asked what he fears most in life he replied, “My greatest fear about death is not that I won’t die a great hero, not that I won’t die after I lived out all my dreams, not that I won’t die rich or famous or some great leader. My greatest fear is that I will die without making an everlasting impact that will change the world around me.”
About Civil Liberty Publishing Company – “Founded by Authors, for Authors.”
Let us make your voice heard, the way it was intended to sound. Too often, experienced writers and first-time authors are forced to adhere to the strict criteria of traditional publishing houses. Well… now you no longer will have to. Never in history did any music artist, visual artist, author or any creative individual wake up and decide they are going to design their work so that it can fit the criteria of another person. We look for the unique, distinct and raw voice, style, and vision of the artist. The vision and story are yours to tell. Civil Liberty Publishing strives to preserve your voice the way you envisioned it. With us, you are not a client, or just another customer, we are a family. We offer a variety of services such as Business and Publishing Consulting, Book Publishing Services, Copyright Services, Marketing and Promotion, Advertising and much more. We believe in transparency and we conduct business as just that… transparent. Immerse yourself into the world of creativity and become excited by the stage, visual and written arts!
Question 1) We connected on Instagram and from your profile one might say you are a bit of a Renaissance man! From publishing, to writing, to modelling – how do you find the time to do it all?
The answer to this question is simple. I figured out a way for each and every thing I do to somehow connect to one another to create what I call a full circle effect. I’m a writer, so instead of waiting for someone to decide my work is what they wanted to publish… I did it myself. I want pictures of myself that will connect to my writing and very seldom, if at all, will you ever have the chance to see the author or publisher post themselves on a public media platform. I want my supporters to see me during my daily life to understand my art and how I make a living just the same as the next man. That’s how I began modeling. I can do many things yes, but a key will not open a door unless it is molded to. That’s how it works! You have to take all of your dreams, passions, talents, gifts and goals, and create a network of roads that all begin and end in one common place.
2) Is there a specific medium of expression that appeals most greatly to you?
Of course! I love Poetry and the Performing Art of Spoken Word, naturally as a poet and writer myself. This was greatly influenced by genetics I have to say. My Grandmother was an amazing and inspiring woman and she was an even better poet and playwright. Several of her works were notable throughout the Philadelphia area, and she was also one of the co-founders of The Bushfire Theatre. My Grandfather (her husband), also a co-founder of the theatre, continued on to become a screenplay-writing professor, playwright, poet and an independent filmmaker. So naturally I gravitated towards this medium, having so much exposure to it.
3) Do you see these different sides of creativity as working together? Or are they separate endeavours?
All forms of creativity are definitely their own separate endeavors but they all can collaborate and work together to create one new entity. Although they can easily mesh, you must fully grasp an excellent understanding of your own unique craft before you can begin to work with another form of creativity. Still, a painter will not claim to be a writer even though they are capable to write. Their master craft is art so it is indeed its own endeavor.
4) In your poetry and writing, themes of masculinity, growth, pain and love are quite predominant. Why are these important subject matters to you?
I will answer each of them in the order given.
First, I am human and I’m a man. Nothing about me is perfect but I do everything I can to be a good man for myself, for the women in my life and, most importantly, for the teens emerging into young adults that I teach. Understanding what a good man is, is one thing, but to see it daily as a mentee, as a student or growing young adult? Just one positive role model makes all the difference. Especially because I work with a lot of at-risk urban youth – they have very little exposure to a positive image of a man involved with the creative arts as a profession. Growing up in the ghettos of an urban city is extremely hard and challenging for any individual that must survive in these conditions, such as drug dealing and drug usage, gang and gun violence, teen pregnancy, broken homes (either the mother/father is not around, one of the parents uses or sells drugs or had multiple children at a young age, very low economic status, very poor parenting, and very low educational knowledge or experience of the world outside of where they live, travel experience or low intellectual contribution).
As one of those at-risk youth forced to survive through many of these extreme destitute conditions, experiences and lifestyles, only through growth, knowledge and education was I able to overcome many negative obstacles in my life. This growth was extremely important to me because without it I would honestly be dead. I grew into not just a better man, but I grew into a better person as a whole, through a sociological understanding of people and my surroundings, knowledge of many different philosophical concepts of life, knowledge of traditional academic subjects as well as non-traditional subjects to better my educational competency.
No matter what category of human life you can think of, growth is the utmost importance. We all grow in one way, shape, or form. It is up to the individual to choose if their growth is bad or good. Coming from my own background and knowing that millions of other people across the world could be going through the same thing (if not, then similar), but that they may not get that they can make it, [I know that] they might feel like there is no way out or that this is all life has to offer. That they can never be more than what they are, or they might feel as though they can never be anything in life or that they themselves are nothing. If the artistic expression of my good and bad life experiences and choices can make all the difference in just one person’s life… I could die happy today.
Lastly, love is an experience everyone has the opportunity to have in life. We love our family, our friends, our competitors, our rivals, our allies and our enemies, our pets, our teachers, nature, the universe and, most importantly, self-love. The one common flaw we all struggle with throughout life is loving ourselves and how to transcend that love so we are able to love someone else. You cannot truly love another person until you first love who you are as an individual. Many times, throughout various challenging stages in my life, I struggle with the idea of loving who I was because of all the pain I held on to. “There cannot be true love where great pain never existed.” By having an understanding of what it’s like to hurt, to be in pain, and how it feels to hurt someone you care about, you can learn to grow and to know how you want to be loved and how you want to love so that you never experience that pain again.
“We love to hate and hate to love, act snobbish towards flowers and responsive towards yelling.” – Danielle Parker Washington
5) You also write about a passion to end homelessness. Why is this a calling for you?
My passion to spread awareness and to end homelessness comes from being homeless myself. In the small town of Lock Haven PA, the country side of our state… I spent a few months homeless. I had to sleep on benches, in parks, sporting fields, [along] the river and so on. The starvation and destitution you face every second of the day is enough to drive anyone crazy and hopeless. Through belief in myself, my talents and abilities, and the drive and determination to change my life for the better, only then did my life begin to change.
For some, over time they have settled with the idea that this is life. For others they desperately want their life to change but do not understand how or where to begin. Did you know that America has twice as many abandoned buildings and homes as there are homeless people? Not only are there free programs to house these individuals but there are thousands of free drug rehab programs, reintegration programs and job placement programs. Unfortunately, due to limited traveling ability, weakness and fatigue from starvation, malnutrition and dehydration, no money and the need to panhandle, taking the time to first find and travel to the program is hard, undergoing the process even harder and, lastly, when you haven’t had anything to eat in weeks or months it is not something you can afford. Plus, how do you retain contact with an individual with no contact information or place of address?
I never want anyone to be forced to live under the circumstances that myself or any other homeless individual must survive. I want to make a difference for those people. For now, I do what I can out of my own pocket but one day I plan to start my own Non-Profit to hopefully end homelessness.
6) Do you see your art as an extension of that passion for social justice? How do the two work together?
April 22, 1978: My biggest musical idol, next to Tupac, Bob Marley united two rival political leaders on the brink of civil war through the power of music and love during his improvised set performance during the One Love Concert. A few days earlier he was nearly shot to death in order to stop him from performing and creating peace. In bandages, still wounded with his life in grave danger, he proceeded to go on stage and perform and fight for peace.
My art, my craft, my expression, my voice, is for all of those people who feel voiceless. Those who feel hopeless and alone. It’s for those who see darkness because no light is prevalent. The greatest power we have is the creative expression of our ideas, morals and values. Our voice can make a huge difference so I’m going to use mine to do just that.
7) You started a publishing company called Civil Liberty Publishing. What motivated you to take on this role?
I am a go-getter! I got extremely tired of month-long [waits for] responses and those “it’s just not what we were looking for” emails from publishers. Instead of waiting for a call back, I decided to research how I can publish myself. Funny thing is, it was an anti–self-publishing article that helped me make the connection and bring my company to existence by saying, “If you are thinking about self-publishing, you will have to take on the role of every position a traditional publishing company has.” So, I did just that, not only for myself but for other unknown first-time authors that have a vision for their voice. Since then, I have published both of my books, Long Nights Short Days and The Shadow of a Man, both domestically and internationally, started my own writing scholarship and landed a teaching position teaching publishing to high school children.
8) Any advice you would like to share with aspiring artists or people looking to take their passion from hobby to career?
No matter what your dreams or visions are, no matter if you are a master of your craft or thinking about becoming a beginner, you can achieve anything in this world you put your mind to. If you really want something badly enough you have to push yourself to limits you never thought you were capable of. You have to work harder and longer than anyone you know and meet. Nothing in life is handed to us besides death, so make the most out of your life by risking everything on your dreams and regretting nothing. We all will fail at least once but do not let that get you down. Instead work even harder than you did before to ensure that you will succeed. Anything is possible, you just have to make it happen.
9) Are you working on any new projects you would like to share with us?
On my social media for the past few months, I have been focusing a lot of my time into building a new branch of my company called Civil Liberty Photography. Photography has always been a passion of mine and it wasn’t until recently I was able to have the time to explore that passion. Please, if you have the time, check out my new Instagram page @Civillibertyphotography, where you can find all of my photography work and contact me for such services. Support, follow and please provide criticisms or feedback.
For more from Craig, visit him online:
For our “X Questions With” series, we’re speaking with talented individuals from around the world who have inspired us with their creativity and passion. If you have a story to tell or someone you’d like to see profiled, let us know in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!