What comes first – the medium or the message? Tell me a little about the work that will be on view.
I usually have a drafted message or an idea that I'd like to convey before I begin creating a piece. It can be a phrase that really resounds with me at the moment or only a single word that encapsulates a specific mood or memory. From there, I decide what the best medium may be for expressing that idea.
Other times, when I'm sketching, I like to try out various materials, and I will let the materials dictate what I create. The change in process helps to open up new avenues of creativity.
What do you feel is your role as an artist?
As an artist, I'm essentially a storyteller, and I feel that my role is to communicate an idea. My personal work varies slightly from my public work. When I'm creating murals, I think of things that could be understood from a universal stand point. When I create work in my studio, the ideas are more focused on personal interests or topics that I'm currently researching. My current work focuses on the idea that our hair is seemingly trapped within a state of constant fluctuation, gradually transforming our external identities and our internal selves. By focusing on the more surreal qualities of human hair, I believe that it can become a representation of our own self-acceptance. The presence of knives and ray guns is an affirmation of the constant struggle to possess and maintain our sense of self.
What influences your practice/works?
Experiences and words. I refer a lot to quotes, excerpts from stories, lyrics from songs, etc. A lot of my work will resound around these messages, which end up being reminders to myself of something someone has taught me.
Who are the other artists you look to for inspiration? And what about their works do you like?
Jean-Michel Basquiat - I learned to like his work after completing college. Initially, at my first show, a colleague commented that my work resembled his. At the time, I wasn't aware of his work and took offense to it. Now that I'm older, I can see a lot of similarities in the way that I add words and characters to my pieces.
David Choe : Viewing Choe's work in Juxtapoz magazines that I bought from the Half Priced Books opened my eyes to the idea of using mixed media. The tangible qualities of just using what's nearest to you and not being stuck using only a single medium really resounded with me as I was finally starting to get comfortable with painting.
Dozegreen: I follow his work on instagram. I'm really into the flow his artwork embodies. Also, the characters he uses in his work inspired me to rethink some of my illustration methods and to reconsider positive/negative space within my work.
Craola: I just love his work.
Etam Cru: There murals are breath takingly detailed and stylistically intriguing. I also love the messages each of their works carry with them.
James Jean: One of the first artists I began to follow whose professional work started in design and then later transferred over into the world of fine arts without losing any of its vitality and originality.
Kehinde Wiley: One of the most inspiring contemporary figurative painters that I admire. His take on the black male in society being portrayed as royalty struck me in a way that I never thought possible. His paintings are truly majestic and are fun to both admire and study.
What other materials do you recommend to help viewers have a better understanding of your artworks and your art practice?
Beautiful Losers - Follows the lives and careers of a group of artists and designers who inadvertently affected the art world.