Saturday, July 13, 2013

XPAYNE Interview

First things first - has it really been almost two years since the last OSTT interview? Apparently it has - and my apologies for that. We've got some excited features coming up for you - and the first in line is an interview with illustrator XPAYNE. I stumbled on XPAYNE's work while aimlessly scrolling through my Tumblr feed, and landing on a re-blog of the image shown above, inspired by Tupac's autobiographical poem "The Rose that Grew from Concrete". I always loved that particular analogy, and it was one of my favorite poems of his. I felt like the artistic rendition above captured not only the beauty of the rose - damaged petals and leaning stature be damned, but also was able to showcase the dichotomy of Tupac himself, the sensitive thug; all of which was heightened by the vibrant colors offset with the black background.

After checking out the rest of XPAYNE's art online as well as some of his other works available online for sale (House Party, Summertime, Southernplayalisticadilacmusik) - I knew that I not only had to support the hustle and purchase a print - but I also had to share his work with the world. Check out the interview after the jump - and be on the lookout for some more exciting prints that will be available soon*.

XPAYNE! Welcome to OSTT, and thanks for the time. Let's jump in to it - when did you first get in to art? Are you self-taught, or did you go to school for this?
Good Day! I've been interested in drawing since I was little, at about age 4 or 5, but I believe that most kids like to draw. It wasn't until the third or fourth grade that I realized I wanted to be an artist. One of the main things that solidified my interest in art was learning about Vincent Van Gogh when I was 12. It was his night scene paintings like "Starry Night" and "Night Cafe" that made me realize the power of imagination and color. Its funny because my imagination and use of color are the two most frequent comments I get from other designers/artists/illustrators.

I only recently (last year) decided that I want to be an illustrator. I feel that illustrators are a little more deliberate in their intentions when creating compared to fine artists, who are generally more experimental. 

As far as being self-taught or schooled in art, the answer is both. I think that I've had a lot of amazing teachers throughout my life and I remained curious by reading up on painters and illustrators on my own. I learn from my peers and other more experienced illustrators, like my Illustration instructor at school, Dan Brawner.

I currently attend Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film in Nashville, Tennessee. I will have a BFA in Graphic Design in December of this year. Before that I went to Nossi College of Art were I earned an Associates Degree in Graphic Design. Before that I graduated from Nashville School of Art. 

How long have you been creating for, and when did you first start selling your pieces?  
I feel like I've been creating all my life. Professionally, I've been doing Graphic Design and Illustration and art shows since 2007. My first art show was with an artist group in Nashville called Untitled in 2007. That seems so long ago!

I hear you on that, time flies! I've been doing this website since '06 now - crazy to go back and time and re-visit different styles and posts from years ago. What is your main means of creation? Has it always been that way, or has it evolved over the years.
It has totally evolved over the years! In high school I was exposed to a lot of mediums (like oil paints, silkscreen, and airbrush), and I did a lot of experimenting on my own. I would draw all the time and I considered myself to be a dry medium artist. When I got to college I was convinced I was going to be the next Drew Struzan, and I used a combination of airbrush and colored pencil. I've included in my process Photoshop to help me with layouts and color options.

I gradually became more and more interested in digital media and now I primarily use Adobe Illustrator (CS3 for those interested in what version I use). I have a Wacom tablet and I use that as well. Everything starts with drawing thumbnails and other ideas in my sketchbook though. I keep a few of those, for school, personal stuff, and work.

Tell us a little bit about the creation process, are where you draw your inspiration from. Seems like you have a lot of music inspired pieces - Who are some of your favorites? 
Inspiration is a funny thing to me. Its uncontrollable and unpredictable. I just hits you, like a beautiful girl coming around a corner. For that reason, think any creator needs to be sensitive to the things that are around all of us so that we can pull inspiration from everywhere and constantly make things.

When I do illustrations for myself, my source of inspiration changes, but right now it is mostly generated by the things that made my childhood. I was born in 1987, which means 90s pop culture will always have a special place in my heart. I really just try to chase a feeling of timelessness, though. Whats been coming out though is more like "I remember when," you know? And that's fine beacuse those memories stay with us, and I'm happy to make people remmeber good times.

I'm really into Toro Y Moi and Daft Punk right now. Curren$y and Wiz Kalifah are good too. Kanye is the king. Eminem is the most skilled rapper alive. Radio sucks. The Drive soundtrack is awesome. The Flamingos is a rap group from Nashville and I love those guys! I like a lot of old singers, but Sam Cooke is probably my favorite.

Yeah, I'm really in to the new Daft Punk and Yeezus cd's right now as well. Personally, I know I stumbled on your work through Tumblr, and I was drawn in by not only the use of explosive colors, but the subject matter focusing on classic memories and musicians from my childhood (Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, House Party, and so on). How has the Internet and social media played a role in your career?
The internet is the worlds biggest microphone! Step to it, say what you need to say, and see who gravitates toward you! Social media has definitely helped me find my "voice" and my audience. But like anything else, you have to work to get your voice heard amongst the crowd, and that is something I'm still learning.

Do you have any upcoming art shows, events, sites, etc that you want to promote?
No shows at the moment, but stay tuned! In the meantime just keep checking my Tumblr and Facebook page for updates!

Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview. How can people get in touch with you, keep in touch with you, follow your career, and so on?, Instagram - @xpayneart, Facebook  - xpayne, Twitter - @xpayneart! My online shop is at, just type xpayne in the search bar. Thanks!

*I kid you not, but since this interview was completed - he has since done some works inspired by two of my all-time-favorite shows growing up - The Simpsons (check the commentary) and Martin (Yes - I watched 5 episodes of Martin on DVD this morning. Classic show). Be on the look out for a special collaborative project coming soon! Purchase prints here.