How did you start out in the field of painting?
My junior high school art teacher convinced me to pursue it, but I was really into music and performing arts. But the first time I painted a person it came out really good. Actually when I auditioned for LaGuardia High School, I tried out for Drama, Art, and Music and got rejected for everything, except Art.
What is your family background? Were there any artists or creative types in the family?
The most artistic is my brother, we grew up watching him draw. He went to FIT where he studied fashion design. My father can draw as well, but he’s really shy. My mom is also very good with her hands, from flower arrangements to cooking. So, we’re all pretty creative.
Painter Paul Delaroche declared painting to be “dead” after seeing the first daguerreotype in 1839. Do you agree?
I disagree, they just moved into a new era, painting will never die, it just moves in cycles.
Do you feel that computer graphics et al. will make painting and other art forms obsolete over time?
No, computer art and painting go hand and hand, and when they link up, its especially beautiful. That’s when you get films like Happy Feet. I totally see what it can do.
Did you have an artistic background growing up?
I was exposed to a lot of different things, especially different cultures. In every school setting, I was the “only black kid” in the situation. So I’ve met and interacted with people amongst many backgrounds.
Did you draw a lot as a kid?
No, I actually watched my little sister. I was a performer at heart.
Which painter (s) inspire you, if any? Why or why not?
Pablo Picasso because of his growth as an artist, he went through phases and has a large body of work. His work ethic was also very strong. Keith Haring because of his colors, his confidence, his ability to link different people from society together, he essentially bridged the gap. And James Singer Sergeant because he paints realistically, he focuses on children and personality, also he’s does portraits.
Have you ever worked with another artist?
Yes, I worked with Ground Swell and Mural Corporation, which is a group of young artist and they come up with a design for a mural for a community collectively, and they work on the piece all summer, providing art for urban communities.
If you had the choice of any other artist in the world to work with, who would you choose and why?
Renee Cox, she’s black, young, and Jamaican (like me). She grew up in art history,and constantly wondered why there weren’t any black people in the most famous historic pieces. She’s very straightforward, she actually recreated the most iconic pieces, i.e., the last supper, and placed herself in them.
With everything making the transition to digital, how do you stay relevant?
By making good work, that people want to see in person. Art is deep and personal, it doesn’t have the same effect as when seen digitally.