1. What inspired you to move from tagging to more socially acceptable art? (Your website says a high school animation teacher, but what specifically did that teacher do to change your path?)
I was always just a creative person, and when I was younger, graffiti was the creative outlet presented to me. When I was presented with art in high school, I just saw it as another way to create. Luckily I had an amazing teacher that encouraged me to not change who I was but just change how I was doing it. So it was more about continuing to create rather than just doing something that was socially acceptable.
2. Who/what has been the biggest impact on your life?
My parents probably had the biggest impact on my life because of how much I learned from them growing up. My dad was a business man and entrepreneur, and my mom is a hair stylist who has owned her hair salon for more than 20 years. They were both creative and tenacious people. I observed how they continually created and grew in each step of their life. I applied those to being a creative entrepreneur myself and to always grow and never give up.
3. Where is the most amazing place your art has taken you?
I’ve been all over the world from china, Australia, several countries in Europe and still one of the most amazing places I’ve been was the Ryman Auditorium in Nasheville, TN. The Ryman is a country and rock and roll Mecca and I was invited to do a performance there. It was probably the first of its kind in that venue. I loved Madison Square Garden, but the Ryman felt like we were breaking ground for my art form.
4. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I set a goal when I was 25 years old to raise $1 million for charity through my art by the time I turned 30. It was more than just doing good. It was about using my gift to create as a platform to benefit and inspire people. So when we met that goal before I turned 30, it was a huge accomplishment.
5. If you weren’t doing this, what would you want to be doing?
I would probably be a teacher. I love guiding and inspiring. I’ve had some great teachers and mentors in my life and would love to do that. Plus I have a better chance being a teacher than a stand up comic.
6. Is there anyone’s portrait you WOULDN’T attempt? If so, why?
I’ve actually attempted Marilyn Monroe, but after a few tries I learned a very important thing. Some beauty just can’t be recreated. She has a face that if it’s not right on, it doesn’t even look like her. So I don’t paint her portrait because I feel like my style of art doesn’t fit her beauty. Maybe one day.
7. What message do you have for young artists?
First, love making art no matter what. Not for money, not for fame, not to impress anyone, just make art. In the event you get to do it as a profession, and the pressure of responsibility is added, you will still just love making art. Art is also a journey of growth, so be up for it before you attempt it.
8. If you had an opportunity to do anything again (or differently) what would it be?
I would only paint more. Besides that I wouldn’t change a thing.
9. Your website describes you as a “high school dropout” – did you ever go back to school and graduate?
After high school I only worked and tried to get by for about 2 years. Within that time, I chose to put to use the creativity I had and turn it into a career. When I started my career it’s been growing, even 11 years later. I haven’t gone back, but it’s part of my journey, and it’s why I inspire students today to focus on their passions. Maybe one day I’ll go back.
10. How do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from music, movement, color, culture, and more. So I get the inspiration by either looking for it or letting it find me.
11. When you are contracted for performances, do you decide what subject you will paint, or do you let the organization who has booked you have some input?
We work with our clients to come up with images that will connect with the audience. So they are images that inspire me, but also what will connect with the audience as well. It’s a balanced collaboration.
12. Who is your favorite artist?
Leroy Nieman is my all time favorite. I love a lot of artists, but something about his subjects and color theory just connects with me. When I realized I learn something from each painting, I get this hunger to learn more. Any artist that can inspire that in me, is my favorite.
13. What’s next for you?
We are currently working on a new tour for next year, which is a whole new concept show. It’s a whole new experience.