SCHOOL: James Ford Rhodes
BiRTHPLACE: Cleveland, Ohio
Q: When did you know you were creative:
A: I knew when I was creative in elementary school. I was always drawing, writing stories and I always enjoyed wearing things that were not your “norm.” One day, I was drawing my name in bubble letters and a kid came up to me like, “Dude, how did you do that?” At that time, I thought everyone knew how to draw, so I’m like, “Umm, I don’t know.”
Q: What does being an artist mean to you?
A: To me, being an artist means I see the world a little differently. I see potential in things other people may not. Being an artist means I can offer this world a little piece of me with what I create.
Q: What inspires your artwork?
A: Most of my inspiration comes from photography, magazines, street art, and comics. I enjoy the creative direction and fashion in photography and magazine ads. Street art has been a love of mine since I was very young, so that will always play a part. The pop- art style you see in comics is my favorite, and I try to incorporate that as well.
Q: How would you describe your style of art? Now describe it in 3 food flavors.
A: I would describe my art style as Black pop-art. I would describe my flavors as blue raspberry, bubblegum and chocolate! More like candy than food (lol).
Q: Do you feel like it is harder or easier to express one’s creative self in 2019?
A: I 100% believe that it is easier, because I think that we have evolved immensely as a community. We can appreciate one’s individuality. There’s still closed-minded people, of course, but it’s not anywhere near how it it used to be.
Q: Which place in the universe do you feel reflects your artwork the most?
A: New York, for sure. I feel like you could stick one of my paintings up somewhere, and it’d look like it belongs. New York has the real pretty side and also, a not-so-pretty side, and I like that balance.
Q: What is your favorite art medium to use and why?
A: I like to use multiple things to finish a piece whether its acrylic, pens, or magazine clippings. I don’t think I have a favorite, but I do like the use of my magazines.
Q: Are there any repetitive themes and patterns in your work? If so, what are they and what do they mean?
A: I love to use bright colors, I try to keep the pop-art style around in all of my pieces, because I grew up on comics. I always paint people, and those people are most likely always going to be minority. I like seeing a piece of myself on canvas. Lastly, I like to incorporate things I believe in to bring awareness to it.
Q: Do you have any favorite artists? Who are they and why?
A: Andy Warhol, because he introduced me to pop-art with his silkscreen Marilyn Monroe.
Banksy and Barbara Kruger, because of how they make statements in all of their pieces.
Basquiat, because I look at him and see myself (an African-American and Puerto Rican artist). Also, because of his distinct, colorful artworks.
And last but not least, Roy Lichtenstein because of his comic art.
Q: Do you have a favorite project you have completed?
A: My “Boricua” painting is definitely one of my faves, because I felt like I found my style. My “In The Mix” painting was another fave of mine. It was simple, but said a lot in my opinion.
Q: How do you want people to interpret your work?
A: Honestly, I’m fine with however anyone wants to interpret my art. I know what it means to me, but if it can touch someone who has a different understanding, I feel like I still did what I needed to do.
Q: What 3 songs best describes your art?
A: No Matter What They Say- Lil Kim
Don’t Touch My Hair- Solange
Cops Shot The Kid- Nas & Kanye West
Q: What are some of your future goals and aspirations?
A: My future goal is to be a booked and busy model and entrepreneur, I want to begin my own business where I can creative direct, incorporate my art and call all the shots. I aspire to be genuinely happy and successful doing what I love.
Q: Would you say that art has had an impact on you?
A: Absolutely, art has been my whole entire life whether it’s been dancing or painting. I can’t remember a day that it wasn’t already instilled in me. It carried on into getting me into an arts school, and also how I decide to dress. It has given me a broader outlook on things that I might not have been exposed to if it weren’t for the art community.
Q: Tell us a something that you do not portray in your artwork that still means alot to you.
A: I don’t portray my love for intimacy in my art, not just sexual but also things that are meaningful that we all need every once in a while, like isolation or love.