Jamar Logan

jamar-logan

San Francisco, California

How did you get your start in Graphic Art?

I got my start in graphic art way back in 1994.  I took multi-media courses in college where I was introduced to Photoshop and Illustrator.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style is similar to animation cell art.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

I draw inspiration from other artists and current events.  When other artists create dope artwork, it motivates me to create even doper artwork.  Also, I like to illustrate my opinions about current events and issues concerning black people.

What are some notable projects you have worked on?

I've worked on a Filipino animation called The Nutshack which ran for two seasons on a Filipino channel called MYX.  I was the Chief Storyboard Artist on it and got a chance to do a lot of cool storyboard artwork.  I also got to work with some very talented people, most notably Jesse Hernandez, who was the Art Director and a very talented artist.  I learned a lot from him.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

I've had two memorable responses to my artwork.  After Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States, it inspired me to create an image based on the official Star Wars - The Force Awakens poster.  I drew my version and called it "Trump Wars - The Racist Awakens."  This work of art caused a few arguments on several blogs. The second memorable response and largest of any artwork I've done were inspired by the movie "Get Out," which was directed by Jordan Peele.  The image depicted Kanye West being sent to the sunken place.  The image was shared from my Facebook account over 31,000 times.  With the help of Chocolate City Comics, who tweeted it to Peele's Twitter page, the image went viral.

What risks or sacrifices have you made in pursuit of your craft?

The only sacrifice I've made in pursuit of my craft has been sleeping.  Sometimes I'm up late into the early morning drawing.

Who is your favorite artist?

My favorite artist has been and still is Joe Madureira.  I've always appreciated his fusion of the Disney-style with Japanese anime that gave birth to a very stylized high-impact visual treat often imitated -never duplicated.

What’s next for Jamar?

I'm currently working on newer episodes of an animation series by Injunuity as a background artist.  Injunuity is a collection of interviews with Native Americans brought to life through animated shorts about contemporary Native American life.  Newer episodes of this series will be aired on the PBS network.  Other projects I'm working on are William Satterwhite's stealth graphic novel that is written by Robert Jeffery. Also, I will be releasing my comics sometime in the near future.

What quote or motto do you live your life by?

"Things are not as they appear to be."  

For more information on Jamar, please follow at @artofjamarlogan on Instagram

Cecil Reed

cecil-reed-creed- art

Atlanta, Georgia

When did you get your start in Art?

At the age of 7, I loved to draw from magazines and books. The visual artist Bob Ross was like my childhood artist mentor. He made painting landscapes look as easy as making pancakes. This was very intriguing to me. By the time I was 15 my parents knew I had a gift. I was a big fan of Tupac Shakur and DMX. They let me use chalk pastels to draw them on my bedroom wall. They told me if it didn't look right that I had to remove it. It stayed on my wall until I graduated college in 2007. I am now in my 30's and have a fully functioning business CREED Art.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style is simple and direct but with a taste of realism. I only use acrylic paint, and I plan on incorporating other mediums shortly. I like to capture images in their purest form. I want the viewers to focus only on the subject with no distractions.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

To take a blank canvas and turn it into a beautiful piece of art is inspiring. I'm inspired by looking at a masterfully crafted piece of art and understanding what it took to get there. It doesn't matter who the artist is, the only thing that matters is that it's beautiful. This inspires me to create beauty.

On fun projects:

My painting of Jimi Hendrix was nothing but pure fun and has been very successful to date. This project was the largest painting that I have completed thus far. It is 6ft x 4ft. I only used three colors of acrylic paint throughout, my plan was to go crazy with it, and that's what I did!

What are some risks or sacrifices you have made in pursuit of your craft?

It is very tough to pursue your dreams of being an artist when you work full time with a wife and kids. It’s all about time management though. Some days, it's either you paint and run the risk of hearing your wife complain about not spending quality time with her and the kids, or you do not paint at all. There are many days where I am just so eager to paint, but I don't because I don't want it to look like I'm choosing art before family.  The situation is real and can be very confusing. My goal as an artist is to add substance and value to our lifestyle. Being neglectful is never the intention. I have an understanding with my wife now that will allow me this time. But just know that an artist mind is always on the hunt.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

 “Wow! OMG, did you paint this?”

Who is your favorite artist?

I have several very talented artists that I like. One, in particular, Kevin A. Williams, he has mastered the anatomy of people. His ability to mix mediums and the message behind each of his painting are extraordinary. Another artist is Frank Morrison, his graphics and attention to details is what amazes me. His illustrations are fun to look at because they capture moments in time. These two artists are so great; I feel they forced me to change my approach as an artist. I've changed the way I capture images, and the type images I capture.

What’s next?

I don't have projects lined up. I enjoy being at peace and in harmony. In those moments, I tend to come up with my next masterpiece. I call each project I tackle a masterpiece because it challenges me to overcome myself, it teaches me something new, and it gives me a new vision to see things differently.

What is your dream project?

My dream project is the one that I do that sells for 6 or 7 figures. To me, that is a dream project. If not, as an artist why do we paint and create? I believe we all as artists will paint for the joy, for a stress reliever or mainly just because you can, but at the end of the day, it’s for wealth or a form of income. God has blessed me with a skill set, and with that, I have developed a hobby, and with this hobby, I hope to be someday financially free. From what I hear, all it takes is that one project to get you over the hump.

What quote or motto do you live your life by?

We were all put on this earth for a reason; we all have a particular set of skills. I believe we should discover ourselves. Don't wait until life passes us by, and don't accept doing what you don't love. Be Happy, be free at heart and be who you were meant to be.

For more on this artist, please visit theArtistCreed and follow at @creed_art_

Andre Trenier

andre_trenier

Bronx, New York 

How did you get your start in Street Art?

I have always drawn and had a sketchbook with me. I started during murals about 15 years ago. After a friend of mine had been murdered, everyone looked to me to do the mural. I wasn't all that great with spray paint, but I sort of winged it to get that wall completed. The wall led to other walls and through two other artists, I connected with Sean Bono with Art Battle International. I started traveling with that community, and the rest was history.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

A lot of inspiration comes from my experience, but I try to draw a lot of inspiration from the location I'm painting. I take into consideration the historical references and the people of the area when coming up with images.  

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

I did customized sneakers for a TV show called "It's the Shoes" hosted by Bobbito Garcia where he would interview celebrities about their fascination with sneakers. In the end, he would give away a pair of custom sneakers that one of my associates or I did. Biz Markie bugged out, Chris Paul went crazy and called his whole family to see them. Those are moments are pretty memorable.

What are your thoughts on graffiti vs. street art?

Graffiti is a term given to "writing" from the outside media. Street writing is a whole different culture in itself and has its rules. Most artists that are herald as a street artist do not come from the world of writing, so they do not abide by those rules. I have a love for both, but currently, I'm more in the lane of street art because most of my work is on legal walls. They are two different forms of expression that coexist in the same space.

How has the introduction of social media changed the street art world?

On a positive note, social media has made your work accessible to the point where you can reach the whole world. You can communicate and share ideas on a large scale. On the downside, it gives people what feels like a street art or graffiti starter kit. Some people believe they skip certain steps that usually take years of dedication to craft because certain things are so accessible. All in all, things balance out, the same way you quickly gain attention; you can quickly lose an audience if there is no substance.

Do you have a favorite piece?

The favorite piece I have done is the last piece, a wall in honor of Kool Herc and the elements of Hip Hop. The piece is located on the front of the building where my studio in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse. It's pretty special because I got the opportunity to collaborate with some legends in the writing world, Skeme, and Luzeone. 

andre_trenier

What’s next for Andre?

I'm doing a mural for the Kevin Durant Foundation and a big project coming up with Bronx Brewery. I also designed baseball caps in conjunctions with Pepsi and New York Yankees for a fan competition called Caps Off to the Yankees, where fans can go to Pepsi's website and vote on their favorite cap. Every month I paint the gate of a friend's ice cream shop to match their Flavor of the Month.

What advice would you give a young street artist?

Be a student of your craft. Pay attention to your craft, be diligent, and do your homework.

What are some sacrifices you have made while in pursuit of your career?

As an artist, you are sacrificing time, job security, and relationships. It's a constant give and take, to balance things. I've had my struggle with trying to find a balance with maintaining relationships, earning a living and also wanting to make art but getting away from why it was important to me.

On the loss and regain of Motivation:

I went through a period where I was tired of the process. I was doing pieces where I felt like I was a photocopier-- just repainting photographs and in my opinion, not bringing anything different to the picture. After a few of those, I felt like I could get a regular job and just paint what I want for myself and not live off of my art.

A friend at the time was painting in my studio and watching him work and enjoying his process inspired me. At first, it felt like a slap in the face that he was here in my studio having more fun than me while I'm painting pieces I can't stand but were paying the bills. I told myself I was going to paint something that I enjoyed in my off- time. I worked on this one canvas for months, and I added to it every day in between paintings. It ended up being a piece I really liked, and it inspired a different process of working.

For more on this artist, follow on social media at @andre_trenier

Danielle Mastrion

danielle_mastrion

Brooklyn, New York 

How did you get your start in Art?

I have been painting and drawing since I can remember. I was in afterschool programs and always excelled in the arts there. My mom and I would visit museums on the weekend and I would draw from the master paintings when I was six-years-old. I was in an art curriculum at a public high school in Brooklyn where I was taking college level oil painting, which leads me to Parsons School of Design where I majored in Illustration. After college, I was working in graphic design and as an art assistant in galleries. At night and on the weekends I was live painting at events all over New York.

What lead to you being a street artist?

I started live painting with Art Battle International, a large, live painting organization which pretty much changed my life. I got to travel all over the world and met some of my best friends through the group. A lot of the artists who paint live happen to be graffiti artists and muralists, due to the canvas being so large and you only have a short amount of time to complete it. As I traveled to places such as Paris, Germany, and Poland, it opened my eyes to how these international artists are using walls like a big canvas and using aerosol the same way I use oil paint. My paintings have always been really large, and I know how to paint fast, so I thought, "Why am I not putting my paintings on a wall?" The first mural I ever did was a Beastie Boys tribute that I did all with a brush, and it took me forever. Another artist name Bishop was working next to me and told me "You know if you use aerosol you can cut your time in half." I totally winged my first aerosol piece, a tribute to rapper MCA (Beastie Boys), on 5POINTZ  in Long Island City Queens and that set off my mural career.  

From where do you draw your inspiration?

Hip Hop always has a big inspiration. Along with the Beastie Boys mural, I did a Biggie mural with the Bushwick Collective in 2012 and it's been up for five years. When I'm painting, I'm usually listening to 90's Hip Hop. I'm a Brooklyn girl, so the art form of the aerosol is one of the five elements of Hip Hop. So I think it all goes hand in hand. 

My work has shifted to more community-based projects. I paint a lot of strong female figures. One of my first was Malala Yousafzai with the Bushwick Collective in 2013 -- this was before her winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Knowing that she risked her life for an education, I thought this is someone that deserves a memorial. It was the first time it clicked that I can use artwork as an educational tool. I have a responsibility on what I'm doing and the community for which I'm painting.

What message do you hope to convey with your work?

I'm very pro-education and equal rights. I tend to do a lot of pieces to educate young women. While I am working projects around the world, little girls will come up and say "I have never seen a girl do this." That has resonated with me. I work in a male-dominated field, like many others. I want to encourage more women to paint, so I want to send a message of female empowerment through my work.

How do you prepare for a big project?

I like to visit the wall first, touch the wall and the size of it, and check out the condition of the wall. I do a ton of research working with the business or neighborhood to get ideas of what they want painted. I will lay out a sketch, so I know what I'm working with when I get there. The sketching and image research process can take longer than actually painting the wall. The day of, I make sure I get a lot of sleep, make sure all my devices are charged, and I have a ton of music.

What’s your take on street art vs. other styles of art?

I think knowing as many techniques as possible is always better because you can pull different techniques into painting murals. I learned glazing techniques, the layering transparent colors of areas of light and shadow to bring out the colors, which is an oil painting technique. For example, I will hit a black aerosol with a transparent blue, and it makes the color black pop. I pull from every skillset that I can when I paint.

 Do you have a favorite piece?

My favorite mural happens to be a little piece that is on Lafayette Street between Grand and Howard in SoHo; its two iron doors I painted for a friend's business. It took me 3 hours to paint the image off of the top of my head. That piece has been up for three years. The business has been shut down, but the piece is still there. I get more emails and feedback from that little piece than any of my other murals.

My second is the massive mermaid piece I did for Coney Island last year. It is the biggest piece I have ever done. I was on a boom lift for two months working on it. It is the largest mural in Coney Island/South Brooklyn, which is special to me because I grew up in that area. It’s like my love letter to my neighborhood.

What’s next for Danielle?

I'm lining up all my projects for the spring and summer. I have two more murals with Luna Park in Coney Island, one will be completed by Memorial Day, and the other one will begin after Labor Day. I have a few restaurant commissions upcoming and a mural for an anti-gun violence organization.

What motto or mantra do you live your life by?

My mantra, while I'm working, is to repeat "Just keep painting"

If you are tired, have a lot on your mind, or stressed, "Just keep painting."

 

For more on this artist, please visit daniellemastrion.com and follow on social media at @daniellebknyc

Jeff Manning

jeff_manning_graphic_art

Philadelphia, PA

How did you get your start in graphic art?

I was introduced to graphic art while in 2009 at the age of 16. To be honest, I've always felt like graphic art is something that found me. Being a huge fan of music, I've always been inspired by cover artworks from some of my favorite artists.

 How would you describe your artistic style?

My style would be described as being a cross between Afrofuturism, Minimalism, and Surrealism.

Where do you draw inspiration?

The majority of my inspiration comes from music, more specifically the Neo-Soul, New Age, and Chillwave genres.

On notable projects:

The most notable project that I've worked on to date would have to be my recent collaboration with 20th Century Fox. I had the great opportunity to be selected as 1 of 5 artists to create digital marketing artwork to promote the AMAZING film, Hidden Figures. I also did a collaboration with NYC- based creative agency Street Etiquette and Adidas NYC. The project involved creating promotional material for the launch of the Adidas NYC Instagram page.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

Wow. I've received tons of memorable responses to my work. So, this is definitely a tough one to answer! But, if I had to choose, I would say a time when someone told me that my work was used in their college presentation project in Cape Town, South Africa. That was an awesome feeling. I honestly appreciate everyone who views and appreciates my work.

What are some risks or sacrifices you have made in pursuit of your craft?

Recently, I left my part-time job that I loved at a graphic design agency in pursuit of creating bigger opportunities for my career as a digital artist. It was a tough decision at first. But, risk-taking has to be a part of my journey if I plan to reach my ultimate goal.

Who’s your favorite artist?

One of my favorite artists at the moment is a London-based graphic artist by the name of Samuel Burgess-Johnson. I love his usage of minimalism, typography, and mellow tones in his work.

On upcoming projects:

Share my thoughts and ideas with my audience through my work, and experimenting with new ideas for the Jeff Manning brand. I also have a separate Graphic Design/Web company that I will be starting with my girlfriend later on this year.

What is your dream project?

A dream project of mine is to create a workshop for people of all ages who want to learn the craft of graphic art. There is no better feeling than helping others reach their goals and full potential.

What motto or affirmation do you live your life by?

"In Due Time" is one of the phrases that I live my life by. I believe that if you really want something in life and you're willing to work hard to create an opportunity for it to happen, it will happen in due time.

For more on this artist, please visit jeffmanningart.com and follow on social media at @jeffmanning_

Lee Driskell of Rosco Biscuit

Atlanta, Georgia

You have an interesting background. You helped create an eyewear line and then started a film service company. What was the creative spark that led you to make art?

Art has always been my first love. I remember winning my first art contest in 4th grade and enjoying the feeling of being able to evoke an emotion from something that I created. In 1996 I was asked to be a part of an Olympics Kids Art T-shirt Competition to promote arts through the City of Atlanta. I won this competition, and the feeling of being recognized on such a level for my art was more than one could verbalize. I look at my eyewear and film company as a natural addition to what I do because it still requires a certain level of artistry.

How did you come up with the name Rosco Biscuit?

Rosco Biscuit was given to me by a friend of mine five years ago. She felt that my Gemini ways often showed in my personality. Lee Driskell is sophisticated, conservative, minimalistic and the other gritty, bold, social butterfly which she named Rosco Biscuit. I felt like my artwork was very representative of my Gemini Twins hence why I call my company Rosco Biscuit.

Some people would describe your work in the vein of abstract minimalism. How do you describe your artistic style?

I would agree. I feel that my art is representative of my lifestyle and things I love. From my house to my car, down to the way I dress. I guess you can say I'm a minimalist; less is more.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

My home.

I look at my home as my little “High Museum.” Any art that I've created has always, ALWAYS, been created for me first.

You have a great use of the color Black. Do you intentionally use the color for a lot of your pieces?

Yes, Black is my favorite color. It's such a dominate color. Being that I typically will start with a white canvas, black is usually the first color I envision first.

Do you have a favorite piece or collection?

Forbidden Fruit is my all-time favorite.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

Grace Miguel, Usher's wife, fell in love with one of my first pieces, Displeasure. We are planning a sit down to discuss my paintings further.

What are some risks or sacrifices you have made as an artist?

Some people may say it's a financial risk, but I don't know if I look at it as a risk or sacrifice because art is something that did more for me mentally than any financial gain I could ever receive from it.

Who is your favorite artist?

Dali and Basquiat.

They were both innovators and trailblazers in the world of art.  They have impacted me just as much artistically as they have in their business. They are strong examples that we, as creatives, don't have to be considered "starving artist." From their pieces being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollar to their works being featured in world-renowned museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Musée du Louvre in Paris.

On upcoming projects:

I am working on some new pieces now. Not sure if they will be a part of a particular collection, but I am scheduling a release at the top of May. I'm planning to attend Art Basel Miami but I have a very tight schedule with my other business.

What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?

Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

For more on this artist, please visit RoscoBiscuit.com and follow on social media @roscobiscuitart

Amy Stone

amy_stone_art

Birmingham, Alabama

How did you get your start in Art?

I didn't start painting and producing fine art until about three years ago. I've always been artistic, though, I grew up dancing and singing and writing. At university, I was an English major but was introduced to fine art education through one of my favorite professors as well as my baroque art studies abroad in Italy. Right after I graduated, I started working for a small publishing company as an assistant and got promoted to a prop stylist position within that company. About three years ago, I quit my full-time job to pursue a freelance career as a prop stylist for food magazines. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a paintbrush and here I am. It's always been natural, like an extension of myself. My painting and sense of composition are influenced by my love of dance, movement, literature, and styling.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I'd have to say my style is some form of abstract expressionism.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

I'm inspired by a story. I've always been a reader, a learner, and relational, so my natural place for inspiration is a story, whether that's the people around me, the city around me, or the book I'm reading. I've recently been inspired by film and score, thanks to my film loving husband.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

I sold my first piece through Instagram! It was a figure I had done right when I first started painting, and I posted it on Instagram (as one does). It was a special piece to me. I was so honored someone else saw beauty in it, too.

On memorable projects:

Honestly, the one that sticks out in my mind as my most fun piece "Show Up"...it was the first time I'd worked on a larger scale before, and that piece was transformative for me. Everything about that piece felt right. There's an arc to every piece for me; I usually hate it for a while before it starts feeling like what I want it to feel like. But that piece was so fun, and it was a breath of fresh air. It just felt right.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

One of the most memorable responses was a lady who'd seen my work at a show. She kept coming back to events and looking at this one piece of mine. She finally bought it because she couldn't stop thinking about the piece. To see other people moved by my work is such a gift to me as an artist.

What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?

My greatest challenge and critic is my inner monolog. Learning to show up and work hard, to be vulnerable with the canvas, even when my inner critic says otherwise, is essential to my work. It's hard work to show up and face yourself every day. I count it as a tremendous privilege as well as a tremendous challenge.

 Who is your favorite artist?

Picking a favorite is hard. So many artists that inspire me, but I'll give you my first favorite and then my most current favorite. The first piece of art that ever really moved me was "The Dance" by Matisse. My current favorite is Helen Frankenthaler. I love her work, and I find myself coming back to it.

On upcoming projects:

I'm currently working on a series based on home. My husband and I are buying our first home and are pregnant our first child, and I've loved thinking about the functionality of family and those little moments in childhood that are formative. I've been doing a lot of writing and work to start preparing for these pieces, and I'm excited to see where they take me.

What would be your dream project?

A mural in my neighborhood! I love the concept of public artwork and beautifying a city, beautifying the everyday. I love my community and want to find ways to give back to it. I'm working on making that a reality someday!

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

"Ring the bells that still can ring / forget your perfect offering / there is a crack in everything / that's how the light gets in" Leonard Cohen

For more information on this artist, please visit AmyHStone.com and follow on social media at @amyhstone

Miya Bailey

Atlanta, Georgia

How did you get your start in Art?

I was a child artist. I began drawing when I was two-years-old and started selling art when I was ten. If my mom was having a party, I would draw someone's portrait for fifty cents. Back when everyone was breakdancing, white people would pay the black kids to breakdance, and I would draw the breakdancers and get a dollar. It became my hustle, but it was also my passion. I was making a little money, but I knew at an early age what I wanted to be.

Tattooing became another medium. When I was 17 or 18-years-old, a friend came back from the Job Corps, and he had this homemade tattoo on his arm. That was rare to see in the black community in the early 90s. He showed me how to do it using a needle and thread, a jail technique of tattooing. I gave myself a tattoo using the same method. People began asking me to do tattoos for them, so I started going to the library and began reading books on tattoo culture. I picked up this book by Don Ed Hardy, and it contained all these different tattoo styles, Japanese, tribal, Polynesian, but I didn't see any black people or black culture in the book. I knew that in African culture people got body modifications, scarification and were tattooing way before Europeans. I began studying African art and how it related to tattoo culture. I started hanging around a tattoo shop named Liquid Dragon in Asheville [North Carolina], and there my friend Rob taught me a lot about the technique of tattooing. I decided to move to Atlanta to find an apprenticeship. I came in contact with Julia Alfonso who was sparking a culture by teaching young black men how to tattoo. She was one of the first artists to start teaching a generation black tattoo artists, and I became one of her students.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

I dream a lot.

I can’t front, sometimes I might take a psychedelic [a mushroom] and dream these beautiful visions.

Photo by Omega Ruth Jr

Photo by Omega Ruth Jr

How would you describe your artistic style?

Neo-Expressionism.

I have a lot of different styles, and each can be considered its own category. I tattoo differently than I paint, I paint differently than I illustrate. Each artform has its own different expression. You may not always understand the subject matter, but you can feel it.

What is your favorite project or collection?

My last collection, Before I'm Gone Vol.2, was the largest collections of work I've done in one series (42 pieces that spanned sculptures, paintings, and illustrations). It was my most exhausting project and tested my physical abilities. The project taught me a lot about my limitations.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

When people say my work is "beautiful.”

I know it seems basic, but that means the most. [The word] beautiful surpasses physical attraction. There are things that might be “pretty” or “nice,” but if you say something is beautiful, you can see passed the physical and feel it from the inside out.

What is a common misconception of tattoo artists?

A common misconception is that every tattoo artist is equal.

Some people think a tattoo artist is the same as a tattoer or a scratcher. Everyone has their specialty and things they like or don’t like to do. There are different categories to the artform like in any career. You have to know what you are looking for when you are ready to get work done.

What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?

I think the number one challenge for me at this time is "energy vampires." Sometimes you don't know if someone is sincere or if they are trying to drain your time and energy. Friendships should be an equal exchange of energy. If it gets to the point where you are repeatedly giving [time and energy], and someone is repeatedly taking with no reciprocation, then they are probably an energy vampire. Those are people I have to actively avoid.

Photo by Jamani Chavis

Photo by Jamani Chavis

What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?

I think the number one challenge for me at this time is "energy vampires." Sometimes you don't know if someone is sincere or if they are trying to drain your time and energy. Friendships should be an equal exchange of energy. If it gets to the point where you are repeatedly giving [time and energy], and someone is repeatedly taking with no reciprocation, then they are probably an energy vampire. Those are people I have to actively avoid.

On managing the demand of being a sought after artist:

I remain disciplined and very anal about my time. I have a schedule, and I stick to it. There’s a time to socialize and a time to work. On Mondays, I take care of business, conduct interviews, etc. Tuesdays, are my days off, I talk to people, go out to eat, or I may stay home and read comics all day. From Wednesday to Saturdays, I'm tattooing, and at night I'm painting. On Sundays, I'm with my family.

I could actually work all day. I enjoy working more than anything. I love work more than having company.

On current projects:

I hooked up with an organization called Goat Farm, and they sold me a building down the street from City of Ink. I agreed to keep the building art-related, so I'm working on a neighborhood coffee house, community library, and art store. People will be able to buy art supplies, drink coffee and draw right there on the spot. There will be a speakeasy art gallery behind one of the bookshelves. The top floor will be where elite artists can come and work. It will be a hub for inspiration.

 What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?

I never adapt to the environment... I make the environment adapt to me.

I'm not sure where the quote came from but it's been with me since I was a kid. I stand firm on my principles and my discipline. I don't depend on another human being for anything. And I don't mean that in an egotistical way but it helps me stay morally grounded.

For more on this artist, please visit MiyaBailey.com and follow on social media at @miyabailey

Traci L. Turner

traci_l_turner_art

Reno, Nevada

How/when did you get started in Art?

I was introduced to drawing by my oldest brother when I was young. He was a self-taught artist and did amazing freehand drawings. I thought it was the coolest thing and I wanted to be just like him! One day I asked him to teach me something, and he showed me how to draw bubble letters. Once I figured it out, I kept wanting to draw other things. As I got older, I would doodle here and there. Mostly anime babes and drawings of my friends and crushes (à la Napoleon Dynamite, yes). I never really thought about it as a possible career path or presence in my life until senior year of high school [2002] when my mom suggested going to art school instead of a standard college.

 How would you describe your artistic style?

In a nutshell, my style is all about color. I am particularly interested in its expressive and technical qualities, so I like to leave it mostly undisturbed on the surface. My love of color influences the kind of staccato application of the paint which gives the textured, unblended look in my paintings. Only in the last few years has that style begun to stick with me and become a defining trait. It's expressive, it's a little bit abstract, and it's bold. Years ago I picked up the term "broken color" when reading about Impressionist painters, and I think that the phrase aptly describes what I do. One of my friends described my work as deceptive because the bright, bold colors betray the fact that some of the subject matter comes from a vulnerable place.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

I'll be the first to say that my approach to my work is self-indulgent, as I'm sure it is for a lot of artists whether they admit it or not. The majority of my work is deeply personal. I'll pull themes or phrases from my journals or from conversations with friends that touch on various aspects of the human experience. To express myself is what motivates me to create, but probably even more than that is to make a substantial emotional connection with the viewer. Perhaps that need to connect comes from the heavy presence of isolation throughout my life, especially since leaving my hometown. There's a vulnerable, humanistic element to my work that I think comes from noticing how many of us either choose to avoid dealing with complex emotions or process them in unhealthy ways. So by choosing to be very open about my struggles and harsh truths, my hope with my work is to provide an opportunity, if only for a moment, for someone to address their truths and allow us to feel less alone in the similarities. The blog on my website is also a great source for understanding some of my work, who I am as a person/artist and for initiating a dialogue. I have to plug hard for it because a lot of artists don't do that extra step and write about their work! So I always invite people to check it out and chime in.

On notable projects:

I have a series that I started about two years ago called "Flyy & Kinky,” and it focused on black women's natural hair. The exhibition that I had for it heightened my awareness of the importance of cultural representation, and it ended up being something that threw me into a whirlwind of attention that I didn't expect. I totally underestimated what a series of art centered on black women, and our hair specifically, would mean in the larger scheme of things. I definitely will be diving back into that series. I also enjoy any portraits that I get to paint, especially my self-portraits. I think I like portraiture because it's an opportunity to present a person to the world, either as they are or as they may want to be seen. Portraits can be intimately collaborative, and I take to heart the fact that someone would entrust me to paint something so personal for them. 

 

What has been the most memorable response(s) to your work?

There have been a couple of people so far who have negatively criticized my work, and I love that. It stands out because I find it amusing and weird! It doesn't hurt my feelings at all. I think I just don't care enough about what they think to bother me. I'm going to lump my answer for the most memorable positive response into anytime someone has personally expressed a strong emotional or intellectual reaction or attachment to anything I've painted or written. There are many things that I think and feel in those moments, but for now, I'll just say that those moments affirm what I'm trying to do as an artist.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

Recently I've been dealing with feeling like I'm spinning my wheels a little bit. It seems like I'm doing everything "right" career-wise. I do think that my work is good and has something to offer, but I haven't yet figured out how to get all the elements to click for me to be at the "next level." I've done very well locally, but figuring out the right method(s) for me to expand beyond that has been tough. I suppose that I don't expect to be super famous or live solely off of my work yet, but it'd be nice to figure out how to get closer to that. It's very tempting to try to change my work or hop onto a trend to try to garner attention or go viral or something like that, but I know that it's not sustainable. I'd like to think that people follow my work because they can sense something deeper there. I don't know if I haven't caught a bigger stride because the time hasn't come yet, I lack the luck factor, or if my work just isn't good enough for whatever reason. The questions and uncertainties surrounding that have been killing me lately. I just hope that it's a temporary setback. Another thing I struggle with sometimes is being a black artist who doesn't necessarily make "black art."

Who is your favorite artist?

Damn, it's tough to name just one! I'll list a few contemporaries at least, in no particular order:

I love Gerhard Richter. Based off of some of the things that I've read about him, he seems to have such an intelligent approach to his work. The color and textures he achieves in his abstracts leave me spellbound.

Kehinde Wiley is a fantastic black male portrait artist. I read once that many people consider portraiture a dead art form because at this point there isn't much room to do anything "new" with it, but I think that Kehinde is an artist that has been able to elevate the genre and further its relevancy.

I also have to name Françoise Nielly because her color sensibilities and paint application is just magnificent.

On upcoming projects:

Right now I don't have any immediate upcoming shows, which is great. For the last few years I've been making artwork solely for exhibitions, and I felt like I had to say something different with each show. Unfortunately, that left me feeling a bit unfocused and burned out. Now I have time to create work on my terms and continue to fine-tune my mission as a creative. I also get to experiment a little bit with different materials and scale. I want to go back and add to a few series that I started, such as my human heart series and natural hair series because I think there's still a lot of potential with some of that. There is a series that I want to start that would be portraits of my friends and other important people/influences in my life. I would also love to get some commissions. Other than that, I'm turning my attentions to revamping and building my online presence to gain more exposure and to maximize my opportunities for acquiring future work. One of those efforts includes an idea for a YouTube series that I keep playing within my mind. Despite any uncertainties I feel, I do acknowledge and appreciate that I'm in a good place creatively right now.

What is your dream project?

This is a timely question! Honestly, I think that's something that I need to redefine at this point in my art life. I don't task myself with "thinking big" or dreaming too often. Usually, I just prefer to think more localized than that. For so long, just making the work, putting myself out there and staying sharp was the "dream" and I'm living that now, which is an amazing thing to be able to say. As great as that is, it's still a very broad goal. I think the next step for me is to narrow my vision and figure out what else makes me happy and motivated within that wide net. Straight off the dome, I'd say that a dream project would be to have a fruitful and accessible art blog that would be a resource for emerging and aspiring artists, or anyone who is an art lover. I like the idea of being a kind of curator that can inform, encourage and motivate newer generations of creatives in an entertaining way. I'd also love for it to be a project that allowed me to travel around to various events so I could write about them and connect with other artists and professionals in-person. I started a blog sort of like that a few years ago when I was living near DC, but writing about others' work made me realize that I wanted to give myself a chance at being a professional artist first. So the project fell by the wayside after a while. I do have plans to pick it up again eventually, but I need to clean it up and nail down a plan I can stick with. It's very out of date now, but if anyone wants to check it out, it's a blog called Purple Paintbrush (apurplepaintbrush.com).

What motto or affirmation do you live your life by?

"Do you, boo. F**k the rest!"

Maybe it's because I'm so fiercely self-reliant (perhaps to a fault), or because I've been living life solo for the past seven years, but I'm a firm proponent of getting right with the Self above everything else. I just think that a lot of the shit we face in life could be avoided when a person knows who they are, is truly comfortable with it, and is committed to protecting it. Too often do we seek or expect external validations that are ephemeral and fickle.

For more on this artist, please visit tracilturner.com and follow on social media at @tracilturner

Matthew Muir

Matthew_Muir

Tucson, Arizona

How did you get your start in Art?

As early as I can remember, I have always been creating art in one way or another. My father was an artist, so naturally, growing up around it, helped to shape my craft early on. As a young child, I spent most of my time in my room drawing. I can remember no test or homework arrived on my teacher's desk without doodles filling the sides of the white border. I would argue with the teachers about how it's a waste of a page to leave that edge uncovered with art. I was defiant even at a young age. If you were my teacher, I'm sorry. I realize now you were just trying to do your job.

How would you describe your artistic style?

If I had to put it in a box, I would say pop-surrealism with a dash of symbolism.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

The world.

For me, and this goes for all of my paintings, it's always about what do I want to say with this piece. How can I transcend the language to convey another issue that needs to be addressed?

What is the significance behind the TV substitution for the human head in most of your paintings?

Believe it or not, the TV substitute for the human head is a relatively new concept that I created for my show in Miami at "Art & Sol Studios." Coming up with the idea for the series titled "conclusions," I was in search of a concept that allowed me to cover a lot of different topics while keeping a cohesive concept throughout the artwork. Cabinet cards inspired the attire. In the late 1800's, there were cards that you would have your picture printed on and then you would visit your friends' houses and they would put your card in their album. Everyone would gather around to see who had come by the house. It was like Pokemon cards for their time. I like that period because of the Industrial Age. For the First time, the World sees that machinery can help humanity become free, and a great change happened. Another time a significant change happened was during the 1950's, and 1960's when we had the hippy movement and power to the people. The gears were turning and then the TV comes out and gets us all stuck. I feel the TV is a complete misuse of that technology. So, I hijacked the concept, and I am using it to challenge the viewer to rethink all that were doing to ourselves and the planet. Something you won't find on TV. The bright colors I use for my backgrounds create a sense of urgency in the piece.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

Not having four arms. Makes it hard to get the amount of work done I want to while I'm here. However, you have to take the good with the bad. I would probably look stupid if I had four arms and no one would like me. Life is all about balance.

What has been the most memorable response(s) to your work?

Well, I'm blessed to have so many great memories that it's hard to pick just one. The most recent one I can think of was in Miami while I was there during Art Basel. After explaining my painting titled "I am you" some of the people were moved to tears, and one person asked if we could do a circle group hug with the 14 or so people there at the time… and we did. Some of the people were strangers to each other, but in that beautiful moment, we were one. I loved that reaction.

Who is your favorite artist?

I f*%king love Banksy... Alex Grey, any other artist that pushes the viewer to think, to me, making art with no meaning is like growing a lawn instead of a garden. Both look good, but only one serves a purpose. I love this quote by Ernst Fischer:   "In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the World as changeable. And help to change it."   

On upcoming projects:

Currently, I have a show going on in my hometown of Tucson, Arizona with a pop-up gallery called "monsoon collective" I've taken over two rooms and a hallway in what used to be a doctor's office that closed down but has now reopened as an art collective. I'm showing alongside 26 other artists and each artist took over one or two rooms and was allowed to do whatever they wanted inside. The show started on October 1st and runs until January 30th. At the same time, I have my show in Miami with "Art & Sol Studios" that ran December 1st until December 31st.  After the New Year, I'm going to be working with galleries from New York, Los Angles, and the United Kingdom. No dates have been posted, but I hope 2017 will be a great year for me, having two shows, in two states at the same time is not a bad way to bring in the New Year. . . A total of 46 paintings on display right now. 

What would be your dream project?

My dream project would have to be to create something that inspires great positive change in our world but collaborating with Banksy or Alex Grey is my second place.

 What is one motto/phrase/mantra you live your life by?

No one can do what you can do better than you can do it. So let go of the self-doubt and just create.

For more on this artist, follow on social media at @artbymuir

Christopher Clark

Christopher_clark_art

Jacksonville, Florida 

How did you get your start in Art?

I got started in art when I was a child. In elementary school is when I knew I had a real interest in it.

How would you describe your artistic style?

To be honest, I don't really think I have a style, even though everyone else thinks so. I experiment a lot and try new things, so my style to me is being able to combine many styles in one. Most people excel in one or two styles that they've mastered. I haven't mastered any just yet, but I'm good at many.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

I draw artistic inspiration mostly from life. Things going on around me inspire me. My environment, family life, work, current events, and my people. Black people are all things that you can see from looking at my artwork.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

I actually first sold artwork when I was 18 years old. I used to do hand painted apparel, t-shirts, jeans, hats, shoes, and things like that. But the first time I sold a painting was actually in 2013 at Art Walk in Jacksonville. I think it was an abstract piece, with silhouettes of birds and different shades of green paint. After that I was hooked. I never thought my work was good enough to sell before that. I love proving myself wrong.

Detail some of your notable (or just plain fun) projects or collections.

I have fun with all my projects, but I think some of my most notable pieces dealt with issues of Black people in America. I like to touch on things that are going on around us, similar to how a journalist writes articles on what's going on in the world, I just draw it. One of my biggest pieces of 2016 was one I did called "Please". It depicted a young boy with his hands clasped in the praying position. In the painting you see a side profile of his face and the top half of his hands. That painting showed a child who has gone through a lot at a young age. From poverty and growing up with only one parent around, to seeing young Black boys being gunned down on the news and being scared to go out, I imagine this is how many of our children must feel. The inspiration to this piece comes from my own upbringing as well. I can remember having my hands clasped asking "Please" many times.

What has been the most memorable response(s) to your work?

It's crazy, but I never thought of myself as being a great artist, even to this day, I’m just alright. But everyone sees me as this motivational, inspirational, and prolific artist. I get messages via social media every day of people telling me how I inspire(d) them, or how I motivated them to start creating again, how they look up to me as an artist, and how I'm their favorite artist. It's an amazing feeling to know that your imagination can have such a major effect on people. People really feel my art. I think it's because I keep it real and raw, when you see my art I want you to think, not just see a nice picture.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

My biggest challenges as an artist are being consistent, pushing myself to be more creative, and time management. These are all things I plan on improving on in 2017.

Who is your favorite artist? Why?

I don't think I have one favorite artist; however there are many artists whom I admire. One of them is an artist named Alim Smith (@Yesterdaynite). I've been following Alim for quite some time and the thing I like most about him as an artist is his creativity and willingness to try new things.

On upcoming projects:

I just completed my first children's book titled, "Glonda's Hair!” It's a short story inspired by my oldest daughter about her natural hair and all the things it can do. It is due to come out this spring and I can't wait to share it with the world. I also have a joint art exhibition coming up in February with two amazing artist, and it's going to be epic! Right now I'm working on a new collection of illustrations to use in my next book, a book of poetry.

On dream project:

My dream project would be to do a piece for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)! It would be an honor to be among such talented Black artists.

What is one motto/phrase/mantra you live your life by?

"Give 'em something great to be like" is my mantra!

My dad said this to me some years ago and I’ve been doing my best to live up to it ever since.

 

For more on this artist, please follow on social media @cooli_ras_art

Yoyo Lander

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Los Angeles/ New York

How did you get your start in Art?

I consider myself a cultural enthusiast mainly because I'm into a lot of different things, I plan special events, my family runs a cultural travel experience called Encounters with African Religion, where I take a group to Ghana and Ethiopia and of course the painting.

I've always been an artist, whether I like to admit it or not. I've always known how to draw. When I was younger I made sculptures out of old gum. I didn't realize I had a true skill until 2 years ago when I sold my first piece. A friend of mine saw some of the paintings I created on the walls in my apartment and he said "Wow you are a really good painter. I want you to paint something for me." He wanted me to paint a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. because they share a birthday. I was hesitant at first but I went to the warehouse, got canvases, paint, acrylic and other supplies; then I locked myself into my apartment for almost a month. It was the most therapeutic experience of my life. I wanted to make such a great impression on my friend that I committed 500% on that wall. I totally transformed his space and he loved it. I don't think I had ever been so dedicated to a project. After that experience, I thought to myself "I'm in this thing... I'm doing it."

How would you describe your artistic style?

I would describe my artistic style as cubism* mixed with realism. I paint people as they are but it has this cartoon-ish cubism twist to it as well.

Where do you draw your inspiration for your pieces?

I draw my inspiration from whatever surrounds me when I travel abroad. I'm definitely more drawn to painting women. I can see the story in a woman. I think women are complex and beautiful, so I definitely get my inspiration from them.

On notable projects:

My first solo show, When Joy Overcomes Pain, is when I realized I was serious and how hard it is to develop a body of work around a theme. All my paintings are pretty big scale, all of my work spans from 72x85 or 48x60, I spent about a year creating all of the pieces. There were times when I wanted to give up and just didn't want to do it anymore. I kept pushing through because I knew I had something I wanted people to see. And the response that I got from it made it well worth. Someone at the show told me "You really know how to capture a person's soul and I feel them." And that's really what I want. I want a person to feel an overwhelming sense of joy when they see my artwork because that's what I feel inside.

What messages did you want to convene to the audience with the When Joy Overcomes Pain theme?

Perspective is a really big thing for me, especially when it comes down to a person's happiness. All my paintings are of real people. I have traveled the world and I know there are people who did not eat today or yesterday. Meeting these people gave me an understanding between "riches and wealth" and "the things that you think make you feel joy and the things that really make you feel joy."

I had been painting this piece I named "When Joy over comes Pain" of three women who are all married to the same man. I'd seen them before on one of my journeys and I noticed I never saw them smile. On this particular day I saw them smiling and I wondered, "why are they smiling?" Other travelers were speaking about how the woman in that particular village were oppressed due to having to married the same man and take care of the many children. What I found is that the women weren't oppressed they were living together in harmony, operating this whole village effortlessly. Everyone ate everyday and everyone got along. The way they were embracing and helping each other was beautiful to me.

What are some of the challenges you face as an artist?

One of the challenges I face is getting bombarded with a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other artists. I have to take the time to think about what baskets I want to put my eggs in. I have to think of things in a year span. It takes about a month for me to create a piece not matter how big or small. Just saying no to certain things has been one of my challenges.

Personally, the "Jack of All trade, Master of none" moniker has been something I've always struggled with. I don't struggle with it anymore because I've made a name for myself, Cultural Enthusiast. It's a person who is into many things and can monetize based off their interest in all things culture. That's what I am.

Who is your favorite artist?

One of my favorite artists is Ab2ether. His style is so unique to me. I love what he paints, his colors and messages are so beautiful. Picasso and others have been world renown for so long because they were the first to create what they created, and this guy has his own style. He doesn't use the most expensive paint or the most expensive canvas but it works . It makes a statement that I'M HERE.

I also like Kerry James Marshall. His portrayal of African life and use of bold colors. He is a master at what he does.

And I love Kara Walker, a lot of artists might not agree with this choice. As an artist you have to make people feel something and I love her unique medium. Her art, particularly her silhouettes, are very beautiful and uncomfortable at the same time. It makes you wince but you can't help but look at it.

On upcoming projects?

I'm currently in the process of conceptualizing my next solo show. The title as of now is "The Problem with Going Nowhere".

I have been thinking about all the people in my life who are in this cycle of living and working, living and working, having a little bit of fun, living and working. I began to wonder what is life going to be like if they stay in this cycle where they aren't going anywhere. I'm not sure where this project is going to go but something amazing will come out of it in a year.

What is your dream project?

I would like to collaborate with a company who makes composition notebooks and produce customized notebooks with my Black American Girl image. I believe it is important to have affordable visuals such of this available for young girls. 

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

If want to go where you've never been, you have to do things you've never done.

Whether it's your dreams, professionally, or even dating, you have to go out and get uncomfortable.

 

For more information on this artist, please visit YoyoLander.com and follow on social media at @yoyolander

 

*cubism - an early 20th-century style and movement in art, especially painting, in which perspective with a single viewpoint was abandoned and use was made of simple geometric shapes, interlocking planes, and, later, collage.

Jessica Herbert (JHerb)

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Tallahassee, FL 

How did you get your start in Art?

Art has been a presence in my life since my youth. I had no idea at the time that I had a craft. I was just creating this work to release emotions. Initially, I started sketching and opened up to painting two years ago.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I like to stay away from labels so I don't identify my art with one particular genre but more of a collective of genres infused with my inner vision. I tend to gravitate towards natural aspects of our universe such as, the sky, the female & the "beyond". My color palate usually consists of earth tones with hues revolving around Chakra's.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

Inspiration pretty much meets me everywhere. I always have a journal on me to write or draw ideas that I use as references for paintings. I have noticed that I get the best inspiration after a good mediation session. It's like my higher creative displays the vision in my pineal gland and then I deliver it.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

Ironically, it was not on a canvas but custom painted timberlands.

On notable projects:

My most notable artwork, "Iris", is one for my private collection. I was a dedicated artist for only 3 months when "Iris" was selected for Tallahassee's most respected art exhibition, Waffles and Brews 2015. This was my first piece in an art exhibition and the first time my artwork would be noticed on a larger scale. I tested myself with this painting by trying out new skills that I had picked up and applied with full passion. The whole process really helped clarify the meaning of accomplishing your goals and believing in your craft.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

Recently, a supporter purchased a painting of mine with the words "I Know I Can". She later shared that she bought this painting to hang in her hospital room during recovery after surgery. That feedback was so humbling, it ignited even more of my flame to continue to inspire other people through art.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

When I started painting, I would give my artwork away for free or at a very low cost. I loved openly giving my art, however, I knew at some point I would need to see more of an income for the work that I was dedicating my time to. It was uncomfortable for me not only to begin charging but also to increase my value. I decided to come up with a pricing system based on canvas size that has helped me stay on track & gain more confidence with the exchange of my pricing.

Who’s your favorite artist?

Sue Tsai is the closest in relation to my personal style and has sparked new direction within my creative process. I like how her work is original, clean, and colorful. I can see any of her collections and automatically name her as the artist. That organic style is very valuable to me.

On upcoming projects:

Currently, my work is on display for the Chromotherapy Exhibition located in the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery [Tallahassee, FL] until December 2, 2016. I am also working on my submission piece for the 4th annual Waffles & Brews Art Exhibition on December 10, 2016. Both Exhibitions are located in Tallahassee, FL.

What is your dream project?

I would like to open a multifunctional art facility.

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

Do the work that meets the desire

For more on this artist, please visit jherbart.com and follow on social media @jherb.art

Christopher Paul Dean

Atlanta, GA 

When did you get your start in art?

From a young age, creative processes were introduced to me. Coming from a family with little money, the act of making was always used as a device to keep me busy. From the age of 2 to 21 I had always drawn, painted, and built things, but I never really focused on art with rigor until I was 21. At that age, after being removed from school at 15 years of age, and working in warehouses etc. I was ready to begin study again. I applied for an Art and Design course using the portfolio my grandmother had helped me put together, 12 years later and I’ve just completed my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Sculpture.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

Working in the studio with my wife keeps me inspired. When we are busy making, thinking, and creating, there is always positive energy to keep both of us nourished. I think, though, that the important part of inspiration is being able to process the inspiration in the best way possible. For that I remain open minded to the potential of the world around me, and importantly, I trust that art will direct me in the appropriate direction. Sometimes we work hard and nothing feels like we are making progress, at that point we have to focus on the fact that even those things we may consider to be failures, have many important and positive elements that can be extracted and utilized to inspire and move us forward.

On notable projects:

I was recently commissioned to install some work as part of the SCAD Atlanta (Peachtree building) renovation. It was an interesting process because I was working with an interior designer. The work I installed was a mural, which is the first I have done, and it was on a floor in which several other objects of mine are present. That commission allowed me to understand the logistics involved with creating work that was so site-specific. The interior designer had an idea in her mind, and I had mine, but ultimately we reached a place where both ideas came together to create a really fun space for students to both walk through, and relax.

You recently had a gallery showing, FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. What was the inspiration behind this collection?

Each piece of art I created for my show, FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER, reflects a keen interest and belief I have in the potency art has to be a device I can utilize to distort, clarify, deconstruct, reconstruct and expand perception and logic. The results of these interests, one hopes, is a body of work that has becomes a platform for a critical re-evaluation of past, current, and future interactions with familiar objects, and the varying contexts in which we experience the familiar

What do you hope viewers of the collection take from the pieces?

It was absolutely imperative that I provided the viewer with a body of work that explored the limits of not just art, but also of the perception they have of art and where it exists. I enjoy creating work that has this tension, it’s not agitated at all, but there is this internal tension that is derived from the work slipping between two modes of existence; one being that of the personal narrative we develop with objects through past experiences, and then the distortion and need for a new form of interaction plus understanding when the familiar object is now under the framework of art. It is my hope that, when viewing my work, the spectator is encouraged to consider their body not just in relation to how they perceive the object at this time, but also how they engage with the world around them. It's a tall order, but I feel my work assist in providing people with alternative way of experiencing themselves experiencing. 

What are some challenges you have faced as an artist?

Personal challenges usually come from my mental state. This can be up and down and is something I’ve really tried to understand over the last few years. Anxiety seems to be present in many peoples’ lives, and I am not exempt from this. There is also a long line of depression in my family. With all of this, I make sure to pay close attention to my mental wellbeing. I utilize art, and the varying process associated with making it, to keep me in a stable place. It’s never easy, but I’ve found a way of enjoying the ‘ride’ as best I can.

Who’s your favorite artist?

At present my favorite artist is Madlib. He is not considered a Fine Artist, because he isn’t. But musically speaking he is an incredible artist. Not just because of the catalogue he has produced, but because of the dedication it takes to create said catalogue. In my opinion, he is the perfect example of what happens when a creative individual is 100% committed to what they do, and intent on pushing the boundaries of their particular genre.

On upcoming projects:

Having just installed, and de-installed, my solo show for my MFA, I am now beginning to make new work that is in response to all I discovered during the process. I wouldn’t like to give too much away at this point.

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

Always trust art.

For more on this artist, please visit cpdeanart.com and follow on social media at @cpdean

Will Penny

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Savannah, GA 

How did you get your start with Art?

When I was young, I realized I had some proficiency in drawing. I started to get a lot of compliments from teachers and other students, and I think that all of that positive affirmation solidified that art was something I wanted to do. I went through different phases of wanting to be an animator, a filmmaker, and eventually a painter, but when I realized that I could develop a studio practice that wasn't limited to a specific medium or field of study, there was no turning back.

How would you describe your artistic style?

There are some recurring motifs and aesthetics that keep popping up within some of the different mediums I work in, such as polygonal geometry, gradients, and floral motifs. I try my best to let each project evolve in response to the specific mediums being used or the space that the work is being designed for. Since so much of my work starts off in various software programs, I'd say there's an aesthetic throughout that tries to marry my concerns regarding the medium of painting with new digital methods of sculpting, rendering, animating, and creating interactive content.

Where do you draw artistic inspiration?

For me, it all begins with the experience of being captivated by the light, form and space of painting. The authenticity of experience when confronted with something masterful and powerful that transcends its medium is something I always keep in the back of my head. I'm constantly in pursuit of creating something that can go beyond language and communicate across time and place using the experience of observing or interacting with an artwork. When I spend time at a museum, I usually get fixated on little details of paintings, where the rendering of light or suggestion of form seems effortless. I also happen to work in a studio environment, where I'm surrounded by a group of peers who constantly challenge me through their own work and ambitions.

What was the first piece of artwork you sold?

When I was an undergrad, I started getting some small works into various juried exhibitions, but nothing sold. I started receiving various portrait commissions and started making a lot of different odd stuff for charity auctions and small coffee shop shows. It all seemed pretty inconsequential because I kept putting on different hats and trying out different styles. It took a while before I actually sold something that I had confidence in.

On notable projects:

I've had the pleasure of organizing various group exhibitions with some of my studio mates, and I always enjoy developing our ideas in collaboration, even if it's for something small. It's really rewarding to sit down at the conception stage of a project and think as big as you possibly can, and then develop something that fits within the resources you have at your disposal, the timeline, the venue, and sometimes the wants of the client. It all just becomes a series of problems to solve, and when you succeed it's always more rewarding to have someone to share the experience with. There have been a few projects where I've had to learn something new within a short span of time. My first public projections mapping installation involved scaling up something I’d only experimented with in the studio on a massive scale and live operating throughout a heavily choreographed event. I was pretty terrified that the computer would crash or that I'd miss my cues, but it all worked out and ended up being a great learning experience.

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

I teach design, so I constantly try to inspire my students in the classroom, but there have been a couple of instances where a student I've never worked with approaches me about my work and the inspiration it's played within the development of their own portfolio. It's really rewarding to know that your work can have an impact on someone else, in a way that motivates him or her to create something in response to it. You hope that your work will generate discussions or inspire responses without you present to start them, but you never really know if what you're trying to communicate is ever being received in a constructive way. Knowing that your work can play a role in inspiring someone else to pursue their creative vision is about as good as it gets.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

I used to suffer from a lot of creative blocks. I spent too much time trying to resolve an idea before making the work. Eventually I let go of the notion of having to have a resolved, succinct explanation for my decisions, and decided to let the process define what comes next. This has allowed me to expand what I allow into the studio and encourages me to learn and generate propositions within the work, rather than try to make definitive assertions. Now, most of my challenges revolve around maintaining a sustainable studio practice. I have to make a lot of practical decisions about where I invest my time and resources, while still allowing room for failure and discovery. Keeping the expectations of others and your own expectations in check can also be tricky. It's easy to lose sight of why you're making the work in the first place.

Who are your favorite artists?

I'm pretty bad at picking favorites because they change day-to-day depending on where my interests lie. James Turrell and Anish Kapoor are always on my mind, because of their abilities to manipulate and transform light and space. At the moment, I've been really interested in Zeitguised, a Berlin based studio have been doing some amazing work with synthetic 3D surfaces and textiles. I've been interested in generative design and dynamic simulations for a while, so when I see anyone creating something that raises the bar for what's possible within computer animation and modeling, I get pretty excited.

On upcoming projects:

I'm currently working on a public projection mapping installation that will feature video content that evolves over time for the duration of the installation. I'm also preparing for a two-person exhibition at the Jepson Center for the Arts with Cameron Allen, who is based in Atlanta. I've also been developing a new series of metal works that I've been experimenting with for the last several months. Aside from that, I spend a lot of time with my face buried in my computer trying to learn some new renderings techniques.

What is your dream job?

To be honest, my biggest dream is just to keep the whole process moving forward. Of course, I'd love to have the opportunity to gain a broader audience and expand the platform that my work could be accessed on, but I'd really like to just look back on all of it in the end, and know that I spent my life dedicated to understanding and exploring things that may inspire others to continue the search.

What is one motto or mantra do you live your life by?

I try to remind myself of Josef Alber's notion of "search versus research", in that what I learn from the process is more important than the final product. I try to apply that to as many aspects of my life as I can, just to keep things in context.

 

For more on this artist, please visit willpenny.com and follow on social media at @willpennyart

Video Issue: Melissa Mitchell

melissa_a_mitchell

Atlanta, GA

The July/August Issue’s artist video feature with MELISSA MITCHELL of Abeille Creations.  Watch as Melissa discusses the creative process behind her vivid and abstract designs, and explores her spiritually - inspired artistic purpose.

Location: Open For Business Coworking(OFB100)

Produced by: Antonio L. Rainey, THE GREY DISTRICT
Videographer: Andrew Patterson,  DP Productions

Visit ABEILLE CREATIONS to view a full art gallery.

For more on this artist, please visit Melissa A. Mitchell.com and follow on social media at @herflyness2u

ASHLEY DOGGETT

Nashville, Tennessee

How did you get your start in Art?

I can't quite say when, but it's always been there. I would spend hours drawing with my sister growing up as we come from a family of artistic individuals. My mother's side of the family has art running right through it; my Great Uncle could have been deemed a master painter if given the right exposure and created masterpieces before his death whereas my Uncle can render motorcycles and cars in hyper realistic detail with a mechanical pencil at a drop of a hat. My mother always pushed me to peruse art in some form or fashion and enrolled me in an arts middle school as well as high school so that I could be in an environment where I could prosper. It was an immediate decision of mine to get my BFA and make it a professional reality after the fact, but I've always been interested in the art world not only what it could offer me, but what I could offer it.

 How would you describe your artistic style?

I consider myself at this point a Neo-Mannerist. I love citing historical modes of working as well as practices and it can be seen in my drawings and prints especially. My painting style has developed from a more classical-inspired canon to being invested in hyper contemporary attributes.

 

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

I draw from the world around me, especially the past. It's what haunts me more than anything else, especially the fact that my past as a black individual is ridden with racial violence and full on erasure of that experience. I use the past as a fundamental foundation for my practice solely for the fact that it defines a lot of us as individuals; our past is what we work from to carve out a future for ourselves, so I see it. With that said, I appropriate aspects of classical art as well as iconography from my generation. I am obsessed with the human form and tend to do more figurative work, and with that said I look to the work of Kara Walker, Margaret Bowland, Kehinde Wiley, Carlos Barahona Possolo, Gerhard Richter, and Roberto Ferri.

 On notable projects:

My most notable and completed project was my sketchbook 'Mental States'. I began it in the fall of 2013 and finished it in the same year, and looking back on it I use it as a major point of departure for my current work. I was a young, queer black artist used to studying white painters who otherwise didn't know my name and didn't even know I existed, and it came to a head that I began a very violent tirade in my sketchbook about my true feelings surrounding my identity. I'd been through quite a bit settling into my life as a college student whilst still living with my parent, who's a single mother. We'd been through a very transitional period in our lives and it really put a chip on my shoulder. Mike Brown and several other black people had just been killed by the police. I'd renounced my gender identity and started to identify as femme. Looking back on it now, it caused me to be even more provocative with my work than ever before and situated me where I am now.

 What has been the memorable response to your work?

I've gotten a variety of responses, and not one has been quite the same. My biggest achievement so far was being featured by Art Hoe Collective in their highlight on 'who to watch' in their editorial collaboration with Afropunk. It's garnered me a lot of positive attention and showed me that my work isn't relegated to the small, Southern, 90% white art community where I live. It showed me that my voice matters and that my ideas are bigger than those who have told me to literally tame myself or to simply be quiet. It helped me combat a paternalistic environment and made it clear that I don't have to appease a set group of people.

 What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

Living in a small town that circulates more so on the music industry rather than its art's community has been somewhat challenging. The arts community here in Nashville is incredibly small with four major art galleries in our downtown location and a few well known upstarts just banking outside of the city. While it's very close knit, there's also major competition when it comes to showing work as well as the fact that many of the galleries lack a strong POC voice, which has been something that I've been incredibly critical of ever since I started getting my BFA. More spaces run by young upstarts in the community are also very parasitic and 'incestuous', simply for the fact that they tend to cater to white voices and continue to propagate a level of stagnation that other art scenes simply don't have. As an artist of color, it's been hard putting my shoe in locally whereas I've participated in several international and nationwide shows and publications, which is incredibly daunting to say the least. You'd think it'd be the other way around even, but it hasn't been that way so far. Personally, I've had to struggle with keeping my ideas fresh and in conversation with a contemporary way of working. I'm interested in academic painting, drawing, and printmaking, but it's been my long time journey as a professional artist to keep my ideas in the 21st century whilst using my hyper traditional skill set.

 Who is your favorite artist?

By far, Kara Walker has to be it. I recently began creating my bibliography for my future thesis show last year and began doing extensive research on Walker's usage of the allegory as well as her re-appropriation of stereotypes of black people in her work. When I first saw her large scale cut outs in the Thirty Americans show, I was instantly moved to tears. Never has another artist moved me to the point where I literally question my existence and even the ground that I'm walking on. I instantly wanted to reclaim my past as well as the past of my people from being so fortunate as to see her work, and through reading more on her story I find that our upbringings are quite similar, not to mention that we work in the same arena when discussing ideas of race, sexuality, and gender.

 On upcoming projects:

I'm currently solely focused on continuing my series 'A History', one which recounts on the roots of the enslavement of black people, both in the past and the present, and how we as a people have been commodified to suit a Colonial lifestyle and even binary. I've completed most of the series, but it's also one that simply will never be 'complete' due to the nature of what I'm discussing. I'm also working very closely with my good friend and mentor Brady Haston, who's the associate professor at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film where I've attended since 2013. I've been approached recently to collaborate with a few local artists, but those ideas have yet to come to fruition just yet.

 On her dream project?

At the moment, I would love to finally be represented by a gallery and profit from my work or be a part of Art Basel and sell. I also aspire to have my work shown in more international publications and venues and hopefully be a part of a biennial. Moreover, being a part of an art historical canon so that future generations can learn about me and hopefully be inspired by my work and what it means to be a working black artist. That will be my crowning achievement!

 What phrase or mantra do you live your life by?

It's not quite a phrase, but it comes from Matthew 23:12, '-and whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased'. It takes a lot to be humble, and by being humble and having a close relationship with God, I've been thrust into several promising opportunities within my career path. I see so many that don't give it back over or who think that their efforts alone are what's driving them forward. Everyone should be humble, and it's our hubris as a human race that tends to be the center of our issues. Being humble keeps my life drama free and helps me approach situations with a level head, no matter how big or small they are. The excerpt also highlights that those who end up being too proud end up being humbled eventually, aka Karma, and the prospect of being humbled by the hand of God is usually always painful. I can say so from experience.

 

For more on this artist, please visit ashleydoggett.tumblr.com and follow on social media @theashleydoggett

Watson Mere

watson_mere

Philadelphia, PA

When did you get your start with Art?

I have been creating art since I was 2 and never really stopped. Through the years my style has changed multiple times but after my parents purchased a desktop computer when I was in middle school I began to experiment with creating art utilizing Microsoft Paint with a mouse and I've been using this technique of creation ever since.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Since I am of Haitian descent my art is naturally colorful. Big hair and African features are seen in mostly all of my pieces. I also try to purposefully instill some form of content to get the viewers imagination going as to what the image means or says to them.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

The African diaspora. I take my inspiration from the love, struggles, happiness and pain of people of African descent. Most of my painting are of Black Women and I try my best to display her in her complete beauty, strength, resilience, passion, pride, and sometimes even vulnerable states. I'm also inspired to create an image of people of color that is usually not depicted within mainstream media.

What was the first art piece you sold?

The first art piece that I ever sold was to a local musician. The piece was of him playing his trumpet and although I didn't sell it for much it felt gratifying to know that something that I created from a mere thought in my head was worthy of someone spending their hard earned cash on.

What has been your most notable collections?

One of my most notable pieces would be "Something Beautiful". The piece depicts the side profile of a black woman the locs smelling lilies. Hanging from the woman’s hair is a Klan’s man. The piece has many meaning but one is that truly being at peace and loving your natural self over powers any form of hate. "care Free" is another notable piece. It shows a black couple walking undismayed through a crowd holding signs. The crowd and the signs are somewhat of a time lapse displaying the oppressive words against people of color including modern versions of these signs shown in the front. This piece holds many meaning as well but one of the main is "Same signs different time." Even the cruelest of these signs were seen as just and normal during their time of existence.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

My biggest challenge has been actually getting into an art show. I've never been featured in an art show as of yet.

Who is your favorite artist?

My favorite artist is Jean-Michel Basquiat. His art is full of mystery as of what its meaning is and the fact that he rarely ever explained in detail the true meaning behind the piece allowed the viewer to use their imagination to make sense of this flare of creativity that they are viewing. His art continues to be an inspiration to creatives across the globe and ingenious fragments of his mind such as the "Basquiat crown" can be seen throughout contemporary art still to this very day, 27 years after his passing. The fact that he was half Haitian also plays a role as to why he is my favorite.

On Current Project:

"Google Search Beauty" is a series that I am currently working on that is personal response of me looking up the word "Beauty" in Google Images and seeing mostly nothing but images of women with European features. Although the women that I did see were indeed beautiful I wanted to show that the black woman in all of her natural being was just as beautiful as well. I felt that it was important to do because of the underlying but powerful effects of imagery, if a young girl looked up beauty and saw what I saw on Google there is no telling what kind of negative effect that might leave in her psyche about herself. I want the series to show the black woman that she is beauty.

What’s next?

Soon I will be working on a series entitled "Crown" that will be side profile views of black women with a multitude of different natural hair styles such as Afros, Locks, Braids, Bantu Knots etc. The series is all a part of my overall goal of reminding women of color that they are beautiful in their natural state.

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - Napoleon Hill

For more information on this artist, please visit Art of Mere and follow on social media at @artofmere_

Ralph "Ren" Dillard

Atlanta, GA

When did you get your start in Art?

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. As a matter of fact, my earliest actual memory is an image of me drawing a picture of a goat of some kind on the phone book in my parents’ bedroom. I literally can't remember anything before that.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Visionary/ Afrofuturism/Surrealism

 

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

Most of my work is centered around the idea of Unlearning. By unlearning I mean shedding a lot of the misconceptions about life and the nature of reality we absorb from other people. We are mostly unaware of the different ways this social conditioning impacts our day to day decisions and value systems. My work is about helping people to break through the conditioning we layer on throughout most of our lives. My series have different themes but all of them fit under the umbrella of "The Art of Unlearning”.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

The first significant sell I ever had was a piece titled "RIZE". It was a 30X40 oil on canvas silhouette of a woman in a meditative posture with her chakra system fully aligned and illuminated. RIZE was done in a truly afro futuristic style combining eastern philosophy with afrocentricity. I sold it to a vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia back in 2008. I took a picture of the $1000 check and sent the image of the check to my mom like "SEE - I told you"!

What has been the most memorable response to your work?

One of the most memorable responses to my work would have to be my first art opening at SMILE GALLERY in Philadelphia PA. A good friend of mine is a novice film maker so he decided to capture the entire night! He was able to get great quotes from a lot of the guest and other artist about my work.  It really made me feel good to hear them discuss what my paintings meant to them in an indirect way when I was not in their immediate space.  He condensed the footage down to an 8-minute video that he posted on YouTube so family members and friends who were not there got a chance to see it as well. Some of the comments were pretty incredible.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

The challenges I face are probably pretty typical. Just the heavy lifting of getting out of my creative space in my studio and getting my art in front of people is pretty daunting at times. Most artist want to create the work and let someone else sell and market it. But when you are a one man show you have to wear multiple hats that sometimes don't have anything to do with the passion of creating the art itself. Maintaining a strong social media presence has made marketing a lot easier for artist but ultimately you still have to shake the right hands and attempt to mingle with the right people that can propel your work forward. It took me a while to learn how to even talk about my paintings without sounding pretentious to myself. It is a constant learning process but I am getting better at it.

On stepping out beyond fear:

I am an introvert by nature. Anxiety is always a challenge for an introvert. Creatives want to be in a creative space all of the time. I personally have to force myself to swap focus and allow myself to be uncomfortable. So much so that now I use comfort itself as a marker. Whenever I feel like I am in a space where I am in a good space with my work I use it as a sign that I need to seek out my next challenge in whatever for that comes.

As an emerging artist - I want to be uncomfortable for as long as it takes to reach my artistic goals. I feel like if I stay present and always slightly uncomfortable artistically I am headed in the right direction.
— - REN

Who is your favorite artist?

Salvador Dali and Bo Bartlett are two of my favorite artist although if you had asked me this question yesterday or even tomorrow the answer might be different. I love both of their styles because they communicate to the viewer something much deeper than the aesthetic quality of the image. Their work always contains a deeper meaning underneath the surface. That is what I am working to develop in my approach to the craft. Fusing the aesthetic and meaningful in my work is important to me. Dali and Bartlett are both masters at it.

On Current project:

Well I am currently working on a new series titled NewBeings/Nubians. The series aim is to give a visual to what true black liberation might LOOK like. We always hear a lot about all of the problems we face collectively. There are book shelves full of information on our challenges. I am one who believes that in order to have a clear direction you must first crystallize the image of what you want or where you want to go. Hopefully my work will contribute to that imagery. What would our people look like a century from now after we have solved most of the issues that have plagued us for so long?

What’s next?

What I am really excited about in the near future is a collection of late summer shows highlighting emerging artist that will present me with an opportunity to put on my curator hat. The show is titled The Exile Art Show. Exile is an eclectic collection of self-taught artists who live and work in the Atlanta area. We are dedicated to building direct relationships between artists and a fresh demographic of new art collectors! We recognized that there are two groups within the art community that rarely interact. The first group consist of a huge number of people who love distinctive, original art but are intimidated by the idea of even entering a gallery let alone buying something. The second group is what we like to call exile artists! Exile artists are extremely innovative, highly developed, visual artist who need a simple bridge to the first group. Mostly self-taught, we see this type of uninterrupted originality as an asset. All of the artists involved have worked in their respective mediums for years and overtime each has developed unique styles. The entire art community benefits from a group of artist who push the envelope outside of the traditional art establishment. The Exile Art Show wants to build a platform to help emerging artists get their art out into the world. I have never curated a show of another artist work so this will be a new challenge for me.

On Dream project?

My dream project would be to collaborate with a collection of nationally known spoken word artist and have them do interpretive poems about my work. We could morph the project into an anthology and even possibly a tour around the country and abroad. I like the idea of a collection of poets and artist traveling around the country together Jack Kerouac style. I have that project on my vision board at home. I am definitely going to make that happen.

What quote or mantra do you live your life by?

UNLEARN

If we think about learning to have two components: one that leads to tool building (information and knowledge) and another that leads to wisdom and transformation (subjective learning), unlearning is extraordinarily important component of the second option. I am truly a philosopher at heart.

For more on this artist, please visit renswork.com and follow on social media @RENSWORKDOTCOM

 

Brynn W. Casey

Marietta, GA

When did you get your start with Art?

I have always been interested in art, but I really started pursuing learning about it and studying it when I was in high school. This led me the decision to study fine art in college, which really put me to the test!

What inspired you to begin creating visuals of the oceans?

A professor challenged me to face my fears of creating expressive artwork. I had always been a hyper realistic draftsman by trade, yet always admired the abstract expressionist artists, so when he suggested I try it myself, water seemed to be a difficult yet meaningful subject to tackle.

What technique do you use?

I use a lot of thin layers of paint, known as glazing.

You do a great job at capturing the different ebb and flows of the ocean. Each painting has a different color and feel. Do your pieces have any deeper meanings?

YES! Each and every piece resembles something different for me. I struggle a lot with fearing failure, so the representation of walking on water as well as facing fears is a big "deeper meaning" for me within the whole series. I also like to study how water can sometimes evoke a hopeful, peaceful nature while other times evoke a tumultuous, unknown and stormy feel. It really lends itself to a lot of emotion!

When I look at your work (which I usually end up staring at for long periods of time lol), I find them incredibly relaxing. Do you get the response often?

I do hear that quite often, and I LOVE that response. I love it. It makes me feel so happy and fulfilled that others can feel a sense of relaxation and peace of mind when they are experiencing my work. I personally struggle with a lot of anxiety, so it means a lot to me to have mental relaxation as well as provide an avenue to potentially give others that experience as well.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as an artist?

FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of being too insecure to succeed, fear of not being good enough. All of the common fears you'd imagine when you'd start your own business/brand as well as putting yourself out there. My paintings are a pretty large representation of myself, so letting go of the fear of what others may think of them is a huge mountain I've been climbing both professionally AND personally!

Any upcoming projects?

I feel like I've been wanting to go back to my roots a little bit and deep my feet back into some of the old driftwood paintings I used to make... so I've been playing around in the studio with those a bit. We will see where it takes me! Maybe just another small avenue of my business and brand!

What life motto do you live your life by?

Failure is necessary to succeed, because if you never fail it means you never tried!

 

For more information on Brynn, please visit www.brynnwcasey.com and follow on social media @brynnwcasey.art