Creating artwork is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I did it so much that I thought it was what everyone did–it became a large part of my daily life.
If I became bored, I’d draw. When I went through my teenaged angst/emo- melancholic phase, I’d write a sad poem, and then I would draw. When I was happy or feeling love, I would draw. I thought little about it; it’s just what I did, and I loved every bit.
It wasn’t until highschool; I took an art class with my first African American art teacher. Now, to some, that may not be a big deal, but for me, it was the first time I experienced someone who looked like me who was into the things that I was into. It offered me a glimpse of new possibilities I hadn’t even dreamt were available to me. Representation does in fact matter big time. Until taking her class, I thought that being a doctor, attorney, teacher, going into the military or getting a “good job” were my only options because that’s all I knew. That’s what success looked like to me. Once I began taking this class, it quickly became apparent that I was to be an artist; specifically, I was to become a graphic designer. Now I knew nothing of graphic design. I didn’t even know what the term meant, but it was implied that to be financially successful in the arts, one must become a graphic designer–so that’s what I did.
Graphic design became my major in college and later my career path as I worked for many years in corporate America until I eventually became a freelancer. Though I enjoyed the work itself, and I became very good at it, it didn’t satisfy me nor did it feed my creative ambitions. I would paint here and there and slowly but surely, the paintings and painting commissions replaced the freelance design work. In my spare time, I would create work based around pop culture intending to make things I thought would sell. I was developing a pattern of doing things to satisfy others and by doing so; lost my voice as a creator. I no longer felt as free as I did as a kid drawing whatever suited me, not being concerned about how others felt. Instead, I was ALL consumed with the thoughts and opinions of the masses and lost myself along the way.