Inspiration is for Amateurs

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My cousin Ceasar and I on my parents porch  1984

One thing people often want to know when they meet an artist is how they became an artist in the first place. There’s Picasso line of everyone being an artist when they are young and the challenge of remaining one into adulthood. This notion is one that I agree with. As a child our awareness is heightened and our perception of the world is pure. This ability elevates us in a way and sets us apart from other species on this planet. The power to be creative has touched  every milestone mankind has every achieved. As a child I didn’t grow up surrounded by painters, poets, or musicians.I sourced from inspiration from other things.Much of my free time was spent outdoors discovering the wonders that nature had to offer within an urban setting. This was enough to keep my interests peeked. Amidst the broken glass there was beauty to be had between the cracks in the sidewalk and walls of the city. Growing up in the eighties in New York City one could always count on seeing murals created by graffiti artists who sole purpose was to “get up”. Fame put simply in one word is…exposure. The more exposure you or your name had, the more famous you became. This still rings true but somehow for me it feels different. I’m older perhaps New York is less grittier  too , nevertheless graffiti culture is still a force. Between the ages of six and ten my older cousin, who I aspired to be like because of his style sense and good nature, let me tag along with him on his little mini-missions around the neighborhood. On the weekends when my folks would let me let me sleep over, I was permitted to be his little shadow and everything he did made me feel cooler. He’d put me onto to the latest rap artist and and break down the liner notes from inside the  cassette jackets.   I’d sit beside him at his mother’s dining room table and watch him draw cool things like sneaker logos and graffiti letters. I’d go home and mimic his “wild style” and create colorful hip-hop characters to accompany the splashy look of the images. I eventually promoted myself from amateur artist to artist. By the time I arrived in junior high school not only did I recognize my emerging skill set but so did my peers. My parents and siblings were supportive as well. I remember coming home one day after school to a classic black and white art table, you know the one with the lamp that bends and clamps onto the table. My parents thought it would help me build confidence-and boy were they  right. That moment validated my efforts thus far. In the following years, my dad’s harsh criticism made me more resilient and allowed me to accept criticism as a positive component that comes along with  developing one’s creativity.  Today when I sit down to draw or set up my palette to paint, I still feel that surge of energy run over me and can’t help but to think that my superpowers are a means for which to communicate my inner workings.  I remained an artist in adulthood and continue to look out into the world as a wide eyed child-full of wonderment and curiosity .

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