How have you evolved as an artist since getting your start as a sneaker artist?
I started out just wanting gold converse for myself, so I painted them. I never thought that people would want me to create sneakers for them too. I eventually realized that sneakers wear and tear. I wanted to start creating art that would out live me, art that could never get old. So, I started making 3D sneaker art and learning how to paint on actual canvas. After I painted (Tamara Mowry-Housley's son) Aden and it was reposted, clients started coming my way. From there I just fell in love with the process of seeing faces come to life. The more faces I painted the more my skill enhanced. Now I only have a desire to paint faces. From sneaker artist to painter, the only thing that changed was my canvas.
How would you describe your aesthetic and how did you arrive at it?
Well, I really don’t even try to describe it. I leave that part for the viewers because sometimes they are able to see my art deeper than me. From the first day that I painted faces, I painted the same way. I saw in colors. The difference is that over time my sight and skill have grown.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Anything and everything. I never have to look for inspiration. Thankfully, I just see exactly what I want to do. I am only stuck when I do not fully understand how to create what I am seeing.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of being a full-time artist?
Carpal Tunnel is a huge challenge for me but since I am never going to stop painting, me and Jonnie (what I named my pain) have to learn to be besties. I have to adjust to painting while being in pain or I remind myself to take more breaks so I won’t experience pain in my sleep. Also, being on demand becomes overwhelming at times because if you don't manage your time correctly many things can go wrong.
The biggest reward for me is the people I meet through art. It’s always amazing seeing how many clients have turned into friends. Or how many people I get to communicate with that are in other states and countries. It’s a beautiful feeling to read the emails that are so nice and know that your art was able to impact a person or family in such a positive way.
How do you hone your craft?
By being consistent. When you do something everyday you can see small levels of growth. I am able to tell if I grew mentally (the way I think of going about the project). I can see if I grew visually (the way I am able to see certain things in the picture much quicker or with more clarity to understand how I should paint). I can also see if I grew physically (being able to paint faster and for longer periods of time). When I paint I am always alone, so the only things I have to focus on are the face that I am painting and myself.
What advice do you have for fellow artists looking to build their following and increase proceeds from their artwork?
First and once again, you have to always be consistent. Second, let the world know that you exist and keep reminding them that you are here. Don’t make work that no one sees. If you have a gift, share it!
When it comes to increasing proceeds from artwork, all I can say is make sure you’re creating for the right reasons. If you are driven by money, you will never grow and will lack consistency. If you are driven by purpose, money is not a thought. The beauty of moving in purpose is that everything eventually falls in place, but patience is key.
As a Brooklyn native, how does New York influence you?
When I think of New York I think go getter, hustler, grind now sleep later, the place where all dreams come true, and every man or woman for himself or herself. New York is like no other. New York reminds me that there are more people out here that are just like me trying to fulfill their purpose. They remind me to run faster, read more and keep working to be the best I can be that day.
What has been your proudest moment thus far?
I am proud whenever I have new accomplishments. I am proud when I conquer new challenges. I am proud every time I overcome that repetitive feeling of fear or doubt. So, I don’t have a moment of being proudest. What I can say is that I am continuously proud of the person I am becoming while growing on this journey of passion, purpose and success.
What’s next for you ?
It’s hard to say since the majority of my biggest opportunities come unexpectedly. I am just going to let my gift and God continue to lead my way. My only plan is to continue moving forward.
How do you remain motivated as you pursue your goals?
I’ve learned to turn everything that will make me grow into a habit. I wake up around 3:30/4 AM to paint every morning. I keep my phone on do not disturb while working. Lastly, I put my work into the world daily. Creating routines and being consistent with them becomes all you know, so I’m not swayed by how I feel on any given day. I read a lot of books and listen to speakers that talk about what it was like for them to find their passion. It helps to keep me positive while pursuing my goals. Anything worth having won’t be easy. Anything that is new won’t be easy. So, hardship is expected. If you love what you do, you will learn to trust the process and realize that all of the hardships helped you to grow.