How did you get started doing what you do?
My friend/roommate in college was an art major, I spent a lot of time with him during his creative process of painting. I really enjoyed watching the progression of layering paint, the limitless possibilities of color and space, and the freedom of not having rules to follow nor a definitive answer to be working towards. Music was always a big part of this process as well, for a lot of the same reasons. We’d listen to all kinds of great bands from all over the world and zone out, it was very therapeutic. These experiences made me rethink what I wanted to do with my own life. I came to really appreciate art, especially music and painting, and decided to focus on developing these skills with my time.
How would you describe your creative style?
Joe Strummer meets Iggy Pop meets Lee Scatch Perry, in a sushi restaurant in Japan.
What’s your inspiration?
What is art to you?
Art for me is both an escape from and a reflection of the reality I live in. It’s fueled by my frustration with society and the infinite beauty of nature. Art provides an opportunity for artist and audience both to let their mind wander from whatever it is they may be doing and exist, if only temporarily, without judgment from our critical mind. It allows us to see and feel things more objectively like a child does.
What does your typical day look like?
Drink coffee until my stomach hurts, paint either in my studio (my sister’s garage) or out under a bridge somewhere, do some push-ups and sit-ups, make a smoothie, share it with my nephew, paint more, drink something, smoke something, all the while listening to good tunes.
How do you keep motivated?
Engaging with people from all walks of life, traveling to new places, and consciously trying to sense the world as objectively as possible keeps me motivated. Being active, both mentally and physically also helps. Spending time in places I don’t want to be, around people I don’t want to be around, definitely changes my motivation. The artwork I make when I’m happy in my environment is much different than when I’m frustrated. Owning up to this personal responsibility keeps me motivated to create the art I want to be creating.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
My surroundings largely influence who I am and what I do, and traveling is the best way to widen that range of influences. Being in a foreign environment not only exposes parts of myself I was unaware of, but also allows for new possibilities of change and expansion. Living in both western and eastern cultures definitely has broadened my world view, and also encouraged less rigidity in my personal identity and understanding of self.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
My hope is twofold: one, I hope my works aesthetics pleases the viewer, and two, encourages a dialogue, be it internal or with another person. Some of my happiest moments as an artist are watching two strangers discuss what they think a painting means. Art can provide a starting point for a discussion or a safe subject for viewers to project their feelings onto. I hope my work encourages people to share their thoughts, listen, and ideally learn.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
The best things in my life now are things I disliked 15 years ago, so I guess I’d tell myself to lighten up a bit and quit trying to define myself by what I’m not or don’t like. There are so many amazing things in this world; music, people, art, food, clothes, etc., so just be open, learn, and enjoy.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
When I was living in New Orleans awhile back a friend’s dad, who was a writer, told me something that really stuck with me. After seeing one of my shows he told me that he thought I was a good artist, but that making a life out of art was not going to be easy. At the time, I took only what I wanted to hear from that, but time and time again his words “it’s not going to be easy” really rang true. There’s a fine line between being confident and totally humbled. External affirmation is not always sustainable, so I try to remain detached. It sounds dark and dismal, but it’s the truth.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
Definitely travel to Africa and experience the culture there. It’s one of those things that I feel compelled to do, but it’s difficult to say exactly why, or what I even want to do there. Black culture in America has always interested and intrigued me, and Africa as a continent is so incredibly significant, I really want to experience it first hand. Plus it seems like those people who’ve never traveled in Africa advise against it, but those who have can’t say enough about it.
What’s your dream project?
One that involves traveling to a foreign place of interest, like Ethiopia, and work with local artists on some killer mural, or take part in a group show at a local gallery. Being able to not only visit a new culture but to also have a connection and a purpose for being there would definitely be a dream project. To me that’s as good as it gets, complete submersion and engagement in a new environment.
What art supplies do you use?
House paint for murals, basic acrylic for smaller pieces. For pallets. I use recyclables, like leafy green plastic box lids and old milk cartons.