Kanye West sits down with Surface Magazine for its Art Issue

Kanye West: Free Form
How the musician, fashion designer, and artist plans to make the world a better place. Kanye sat down with Surface editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey to talk about his children’s education, creating opportunities for young creatives, the importance of design, and the benefits of emoji-only communication. Read a part of the interview below and head over to Surface for the complete Q&A and video.


Let’s start with your company, Donda. When you announced it nearly five years ago, you said it would encompass 14 different categories: everything from hospitality and marketing to consumer finance and medical research to transportation and protection services. Why did you envision all of these things together in one organization?

I’m really bad with answering questions. Usually, I don’t even answer them. I try to find inspiration inside of the question. I think, and I jump from one beam of inspiration or energy to the next, as opposed to explaining the energy.

In general, the hard part about interviews, for me, is the idea of two plus two equals four. I always refuse to land at four. Landing at four is hella basic.

What’s your dream for Donda?

In some ways, my dream is already happening because of the people I’ve worked with and the mental pushups they go through. I hate when someone comes and works with me for a couple weeks or two months, and then they try to tell people they’ve worked with Kanye West. You haven’t worked with Kanye West unless you’ve had to redo a project 100 times, or had to word something in a specific, perfect way, to communicate it in the exact. That [last statement] was ironic, because I’m not communicating well at all.

People come, they go away, they work here for a bit, they work on other projects, we argue. We’re all these fighting artists with a common goal of wanting to affect the world through positive change, which is this really politically correct way to say “save the world.” If you don’t have the vision to see where you could go, there’s no way you can believe in the possibility of a utopia.

When you say utopia, it sounds like a bad word. It’s something people can use to make fun of you or make you look stupid or overly optimistic.

What’s your version of utopia?

I don’t think people are going to talk in the future. They’re going to communicate through eye contact, body language, emojis, signs. Imagine that. If everyone was forced to learn sign language.

When I was a kid, I’d see people who only spoke sign language and think, Wow, that’s gotta be difficult. I was really happy I could speak. Now, I would prefer to [West pantomimes someone signing], do that without having to use words. It’s funny because I’ve made a living off of words, but words get in the way of what you really want to say.

Wordless communication would be your preferred method?

Yeah, sign language, eye contact. Or thank God for emojis. So often one emoji goes a long way and lets me get on with my whole day.

I don’t want to be a jerk, but there are certain people who are geniuses. Their emotional and social IQ is super high and they can get stuff done. Often, people who get really amazing stuff done have to cut off their emotional IQ. I can’t stand this whole “How was your day?” thing that agents always say. I’m like, “You don’t care about my day. Why’d you ask me about my day? Did we get done what we were supposed to get done?” But I do want to know how my daughter’s day was. I do want to get an explanation of what she learned in school. I sincerely care about that.

I think business has to be stupider. I want to do really straightforward, stupid business—just talk to me like a 4-year-old. And I refuse to negotiate. I do not negotiate. I can collaborate. But I’m an artist, so as soon as you negotiate, you’re being compromised.