- Do you have a particular philosophy about art/creativity?
That it should be honest. Whatever it says, it should represent the artist somewhat. People should be able to look at the work and get a good idea of who you are.
- Who were your influences? What gave you the courage to make the leap from the desire to create to actually doing it?
Ernie Barnes for his style and Oprah for her drive. I know that doesn't really make much sense, but they're both important to me. I grew up with artists and none of them ever made much money. My aunt is a sculptress in Jamaica who was never able to support herself doing what she loved. Her main problem was that she was a woman, and female artists rarely get taken seriously. She believed them when they told her that she would never be as successful as the men. I was told the same thing, but I don't believe them. It can be done. I decided if I was going to pursue what I love as a career, I've got to have a decent business mind as well. Just being able to create image unfortunately, in this day and age, isn't enough. Ernie Barnes stands out as an artist because his work is phenomenal and he captures the figure in ways that many others can't. You understand him when you see the work, and you feel as if the people in the picture could be you. I want people to see themselves in my work...to feel as if I get them. But that is useless if no-one sees what I do. Hence, Oprah. She's the most savvy businesswoman I can think of, and that's mainly because she's done an excellent job of promoting herself. That's half the job right there.
- How do you work? Do you have an established routine to get the flow of creativity going?
No routine. I'm disorganized, frenetic and random. I work on six pieces all at one time and will drop them all in a second, or finish every last one before I go to sleep. It all depends on my mood. If I feel it, I must work until I get it all out.
- What is the value of criticism? How do you critique yourself? Others?
Criticism is extremely important. I rely on it. I need people to tell me why they like something, or why they don't. I need to be able to see my work through their eyes. Here's where the need to be a businesswoman also arises. If no-one likes it, it won't sell. I'm not pandering to the public, but I have a need to create pieces that people respond to. They could violently hate it or they could absolutely love it. It must illicit some response. If it doesn't, I have failed. There are so many pieces of art out there that bore me. They're cute. They have a happy family with six children all eating cake. Everybody is smiling. The sky is pink and purple and there's no mischief. It's so clean. So pure. I won't do those. I love it when I show a piece and the person looks somewhat uncomfortable. They don't know what to say. When that happens, I feel I've done my job. I rely heavily on my friends and family for critiques though. They know me so well, and are so familiar with the work; they don't hold back and definitely won't spare my feelings.
- How is the creative process helped or hampered by collaboration with other people?
I'm too much of a loner and a stubborn crazy person to collaborate with anyone. My work is too personal and I must be in charge of it. So, I would say, for me, it would be hampered. I value input, but I can't paint with anyone.
- When is a piece completed? Is it ever fully completed? Do you have a hard time letting go?
Sometimes you just know when to put the brush down. Now I don't have a hard time because I'm working on so much. Also, because of the publishing, the pieces never really go away.
- Does dealing with the business side of artistic ventures hamper you in any way?
I wish I didn't have to do it, but I know that it's necessary. It takes time away from the creative process of course, but I'm trying to have some sort of balance.
- What kind of support do you get from the black lesbian community vs. the general glbt community?
I am getting amazing support from the black lesbian community for the HunnyPot work. I've noticed however, that in that arena, I don't have much competition. There are many artists out there. Not many publish their work or try to make it marketable the way that HunnyPot does. So I think that much of the support that I'm getting has to do with the fact that the black lesbian community has been starved for attention artistically and commercially. Looking on the store shelves, one might think that lesbians are all white women under 35. I've tried to create a collection where women see themselves, and I think it's working.
The general glbt community is a different story however, as they don't' really see themselves in my work. My focus is quite narrow here. I've promised that I will expand, but that will take time.
- What do you do if you hit a dry spell/writer's block?
Nothing. I take myself away from the work and do something else. A dry spell or a block is a good thing. It just means I'm tired.
- What kind of experience do you want people viewing/seeing your work to have?
I want them to either love it or hate it. To talk about it either negatively or positively. If they looked at it and didn't think anything and perhaps walked away, then I would feel bad.
- What is your measure of success? Money, recognition, understanding, fortune, fame, etc?
Success for me would be the opportunity to earn a decent wage doing what I love. To be comfortable enough (I don't need frills), and able to be completely in charge of my life and my time.
- Are there specific themes that repeat themselves in your work?
Yup! There's always mischief. Sex. Feminism mixed with femininity and sensuality. Lots of women...doing whatever. Loving life. Most importantly, being sure of themselves. They are not carbon copies of the women on TV or in the magazines. As a matter of fact, they've got hips like our Mommas, lips like sistahs, and enough attitude for everybody. They go against the grain...the status quo. I hate the status quo. I illustrate those people who steal other people's girlfriends and boyfriends and are OK with it. Those who smoke weed in their apartments after they've gotten home from work because it was a hard day. Those who go to church to try and seduce the pastor.:-) Those women who live a life that other people don't necessarily understand, and who are at peace with themselves. Anything that the religious right doesn't like, I do.
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