While scrolling through your Instagram feed, you can see the evolution of your work when going from the bottom to the top – how long have you been pursuing art so far and how were you able to settle into your current style?
I’ve been pursuing design now for ten years, more on the art side for about five. I could be more successful if I stuck with my older style, but I feel more satisfaction in experimental methods of creation opposed to styles I’ve already mastered. I try to keep some stuff from my older style and incorporate it into new methods I’ve discovered along the way. Over the years, I’ve become more interested in minimalism and iconography over overly-detailed complexity. I’ve also become more interested in ideas over the obvious. When I first started creating, I worked mostly in the hip-hop scene, which influenced my work dramatically at the time. Now I work mostly in streetwear which dramatically influences the creative choices I make in my new work. I don’t think I’m ever comfortable saying I’ve found “my style,” because it’s ever-evolving and changing as I do, and I’ve yet to find an aesthetic that is truly, 100% original in every aspect – so I keep pushing until I do.
What’s your creative process like? How do you approach starting a new piece?
I mix both digital and traditional for almost everything I do commercially. I have a ton of different processes though. It’s kind of hard to explain because it all depends on the outcome I’m going for. I’ll explain one process I have – I love to draw in charcoal. I’ll do multiple charcoal sketches until I find one I like, scan it digitally and then draw-out assets to incorporate into it. I then will colorize it digitally, or sometimes I’ll draw out the color on separate scans because I like the natural texture of physical mediums that you can’t always get digitally. But again, that’s just one of many processes. I can walk you through specific pieces, but trying to explain everything is nearly impossible. I will say, my favorite mediums are charcoal, oil paint and Adobe Illustrator. A contradiction for sure, but art shouldn’t make sense [laughs].
That’s fair – it’s not bad to have many different mediums! Now I know you said you’ve been working in streetwear lately as well – tell me a little about that.
I design for basically every streetwear brand in New Orleans, a few in Atlanta, Los Angeles and NYC. Some brands I’m under contract to be a ghost designer so I can’t really speak about those, but some of my favorite brands I design for are Tvche and Haunt Nola. They give me a lot of room to experiment and find new aesthetics. Other brands have very strict guidelines that they don’t like to move out of, which I understand, but it’s very limiting creatively.
Is clothing design something you see yourself doing long-term?
I’ll put it this way – if I end up as a fashion designer, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as I enjoy doing it. I’ve always seen myself as more of an artist and always wanted to do gallery shows as a legitimate painter. I do have my oil paintings hanging in multiple galleries, but because of all the other work I do, it’s hard to be taken seriously by the art industry. Working digitally in any sense is a big no-no in the [traditional] art world, which is dumb. If I do end up in the fashion industry later in my career, I’d like to be more into brand-building than freelance. I’d like to have my ideas taken seriously by a Louie or Gucci or Burberry. I have ideas where to take these brands in [terms of] creative direction. I think about it often, in fact I’ve thought about it everyday for the last three to four years. But whatever I’m doing, from fine art to graphic arts to streetwear design, I take it very seriously. But I don’t dwell too much on where it’s taking me because I’ve learned over the years that nothing works out as planned, so I just go with the flow.
It’s definitely not bad to have those goals, though. And it seems that you’ve been making some big strides already, so congrats on that! Can you tell me a bit more about your paintings that are displayed in galleries? How long did it take you to get these placements and what does it mean for you to have them?
I’m represented by Gallery Arlo in the French Quarters [of New Orleans] and I’ve shown in other galleries in Milwaukee, Atlanta, and New Orleans. I view painting differently from design and enjoy more abstraction than figurative [work]. Art is freedom, while design is a solution. Painting to me is pure creative expression. It’s the same principles of design aesthetics, but no one tells you how to do it. I got placements pretty naturally as I know many people in the industry, but I still want to work with gallerists like Maddox. Those kinds of galleries are what I aspire to.
Since you seem to be ever-evolving and refuse to put yourself in a box, do you see yourself dabbling in any new mediums in the future?
Large-scale oil paintings [that are] 20-30 ft. On scale of Damien Hirst, David Hockney or Retna – who are three of my biggest inspirations. I also want to get more into silkscreens, and more sophisticated product design – stuff a little bit more fulfilling than just t-shirts and ready-made products. I’ve been taking architecture classes that have been helping me understand how to scale up better.