Keeping up with this artist was a fun challenge as she shows the world living out your dreams is possible & people are loving it.
What inspired you to start working on your craft?
Art was always embedded in me as a child, my grandmother would sit me in her room and have me draw and color her pictures that she’d taped to the wall, and they would stay up literally until they tore down, and she’d replace them with new drawings. My parents also always bought me the classic Lisa Frank art kits, and I just naturally gravitated to drawing. I remember watching BET’s Rap City: The Basement and they had a segment of the show where people would send in their art, and I’d be so inspired by the art and would practice drawing Musiq Soulchild to send in my drawing, I was a peculiar child. I never got the chance to send it in, but a 10 year old me had perfected the photo of Musiq with his headphones leaning against a speaker.
From those younger years on, I was always an artist in different facets from art and drawing, spoken word & poetry, to music. When I got to college, I actually started focusing more on music and it was years before I merged back into visual art. When I graduated my creative endeavours were paused and I focused more on a corporate image, and stopped creating completely. I did start back writing more during that time, I suppose I’ve always needed a creative outlet in some sense. After a few transitions, I was ultimately laid off twice over the course of two years and decided I never wanted to be in that place again to have these corporate companies have so much power that it shifts you and determines the level of security you can provide for myself.
What was your first thoughts when you saw your first piece showcased?
If my memory serves me correctly one of the first exhibits I showcased a body of work in was the Indiana Black Expo in the Cultural Arts Pavilion. I remember attending Expo for the first time in 2017 and was amazed by the beautiful Black art, and I thought to myself I want to do this, I want my work here. The very next year it happened for me, and I exceeded my expectations, and was soon coordinating and curating the entire space. It was less thoughts in my head seeing my work being featured and being recognized, just a very good feeling.
I also recently just had my first major museum exhibit this year at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for the Black Creativity 2022 Exhibit. That was a full circle moment for me because I used to attend that museum as a child, and to see my work there was just so rewarding. It makes me feel aligned and on the right path.
What is your favorite piece?
I have a few, but definitely “The Carters” from my unpopular Opinion Collection celebrating Black Wealth and breaking those societal glass ceilings.
Who surprised you by liking your work?
The biggest surprise was definitely Erykah Badu going through my Instagram and liking several pictures. I thought it was fake until she inboxed me and called me “suga.”
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Most people know me as a visual artist, but would be very surprised to know that I’m a writer, poet, and mc/lyricist. I honestly probably love music and performing the most, but it’s taken a while to reintegrate myself, but it’s something I’m currently working on.
How would you describe your art?
I am a visual artist that synthesizes interactive art through acrylic paintings, digital art, and installations that examine the African Diaspora. As an acrylic painter, digital artist, and muralist, my work provides cultural images that honor a marginalized community through art, while providing representation of BlPOC, LGBTQ, and underrepresented women along an intersected spectrum. My artwork style can be defined as expressionistic portraiture, where I create portraits that reflect an image of reality that is expressive of my perception, feelings, and ideas.
What’s the funniest memory you have dealing with your craft?
Probably this weekend, I ran into an old friend as she was telling her friends about my work, and she happened to mention that I body paint. There was an older gentleman who asked if I could body paint a few abs. It’s always funny having conversations about that aspect of the job.
How do you keep the passion in your art while making it your job?
Great question. I have to separate the business from the pleasure, and I no longer paint for money. I know that my sound weird if you wonder how I would support myself doing that, but there are certain things I can do creatively that I can generate an income off, and I allow those things like digital art, illustration, mural work, body painting, curating, events, etc to generate the cash flow, but when it comes to creating heart work, I have to do that when my mind, body, and spirit allows it, and I can choose to sell it or not because my art isn’t the sole basis of my income. My other creative outlets can support me, allow me to be creative, can be managed, and I can preserve that passion and not get emotionally burnt out.
How do you use your craft to educate younger generations and your community?
I connect through the youth with painting workshops and volunteering my time whenever I’m asked to and my schedule allows it. I’ve returned home to Gary, IN and hosted workshops at schools allowing students to meet a full-time artist, ask questions, share what I do, and always bring out the canvas and easels so they can create. I recently collaborated with a former high school classmate who happens to be a teacher, and spent some time with K-6 graders for career day. We did a full day where I was allowed to share my art and connect with students in each grade level for one-on-ones and dive into my career and what led me here. Any opportunity I can connect with youth and the community I take it. I often bring out canvases to community events and allow people to create with me on what I call a “Community Canvas.” I was actually able to fabricate a community canvas structure in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood in Indianapolis on 25th & Sherman where the community can leave their creations, favorite quotes, or inspiring messages on a community chalkboard canvas.
Who influenced you growing up?
I don’t think I knew it at the time, but I realize now I was always inspired and influenced by the women in my life. My mom was/is an entrepreneur that led me towards entrepreneurship and I studied the facets of that in college. I can never remember having a childhood fantasy or romanticising certain jobs or roles when I grew up. When I got to a certain age I just knew I wanted to own something, I just didn’t know what. When I was led back to art it was those influences from my grandmother that kept me encouraged and helped cultivate my love for creating.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Retired, lol! No seriously, I’ve been a visual artist for 5 years, so I finally feel like I’m making it past my infancy stages, and emerging into the professional mid-career bracket. I had such an interesting start, I was a full-time artist as I was learning and teaching myself how to paint. In 5 years, I’d like to have a catalogue of body of works that are notable enough to be recognized, written about, studied and analyzed. I see myself dedicating time to solely travel, studying, and create. I’d like my work to be immersed with photography, film, documentaries, and even music and poetry fusing all my talents together to create a creative structure that’s multifacet.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
I’m a firm believer in choosing your purpose. First, you have to identify what it is which can be determined by paying attention to things in life that light you up, make you happy, and bring you a sense of peace. Once you determine those things, it can be more than one, choose one that you want to experience everyday in different forms. That one thing that you want to dive into completely and master it. I am by no means a master at my craft, but I get up everyday and choose it over it over, and it responds by choosing me back. That takes true commitment, dedication, and courage to pursue your passions and risk the unknowns like failure. But through failures is where you learn every way that doesn’t work for you, and can slowly get better one day at a time. So take it a day at a time, and never give up.
What’s a misconception about what you do?
A common misconception about creating art is of course the cost and time. It’s often underpriced by people who inquire for commission work or overpriced by people interested in collecting. Those that reach out for commission work, (which is creating something for someone), often underestimate how expensive supplies are. I can spend over $100 on a moderate size student grade canvas (just the canvas). This is also true for mural work, interior and exterior paints get costly, quick. I don’t think this is common knowledge though, so I try to be as communicative as possible and do the best that I can with people who chose to patronize me (within reason). I also get approached by a lot of people telling me they wish they could afford my work. I can only assume they think it’s thousands of dollars, lol. I do have some costly pieces, but I still offer affordable canvas prints so that people with all budgets can collect and still own my work on my website at www.boxxtheartist.com. With time, there is always an urgency of now, but great art takes time. I often work on deadlines, but I make it a priority to give myself the time I need to create and keep my clients abreast.
Who would be your dream client?
I don’t have a particular person in mind, but my dream client is anyone that sees my original work and feels it belongs in their life and their home, and they purchase it.
I studied Mass Communication with a focus on multimedia and production, African American Studies earning a dual Bachelors Degree with a minor in Political Science and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. I get asked all the time if I studied art, asking what I went to school for, and how it feels spending 4 years of time and money to not work in my field. I think however, the best way to put my education to use and to us was working for myself. I definitely encourage the college track, because it taught me how to be teachable, sufficiency, and interchangeable skills to truly function as a business. If there is another way you learn it, definitely take it, but those skills have to be developed for the best sense of balance as a creative. Never stop learning, never stop being a student, and always get up everyday and choose your purpose, again and again.
Feel free to connect with me on social media platforms @BoxxThe Artist!
Boxx the Artist- Lead Artist, Principal Consultant
Arthentic Fit, LLC- The Creative Arts Company
Arthentic Arts, Inc.- Founder
Visual Artist| Art Instructor| Creative Consultant| Arts Advocate
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