Welcome to the Animated-Painted-Digitized World of LaVan Wright (Part II)

by Deiona Monroe

Stress will happen, but that doesn’t prohibit productivity. Even though there are obstacles and trials, LaVan continues to produce and keeps his drive with the various projects that he’s currently working on; this is just one out of the bunch:

“This one project that I’m working on which is really personal to me is this animation that I started. It got triggered because I just did a project for Trey [Songz], it was a single artwork for an album he’s coming out with. So, they wanted the whole role out, so I did everything for it: the stories, the video, the visualizer and everything like that. So, I got to step into an animation realm with that. And I forgot how much I liked to study it and I also love cartoons, so after I was done with it, I was like ‘yo I know so much about it now, let me see if I could do something with this for myself’. So, with this project, I took my wolf character, Omega, and Prince—well I have a whole bunch of little characters. Prince looks like me but he’s more of a nonchalant version, but he’s the main character of the whole series. And Cufflink is his companion—a little heart character with a band-aid. Basically, it’s Omega sitting on a hill and there’s a rain cloud pouring on him and Cufflink is gonna come in and blow the cloud away. It’s a lot behind it, but I started it because lately I’ve been going through life rollercoasters and I was kind of in a dark space for a little bit, and this served as a representation of what I was going through; and cufflink coming in and blowing it away was the love getting rid of all the darkness. That’s one thing I’m working on right now, and that’s mostly just for fun”.

Though his work is full of fun and life, there is still so much that LaVan wants to accomplish. Just like any other artist, if his supplies could be as unlimited as his imagination, his dream project would be:

“Damn. There’re so many things, cause I got so many modes. But I want to do a big ass instillation of everything that I do; like all in one space and each mode would have its own theme. For the tattooing, it would be a flash of all my characters and whoever comes in for a tattoo—well it would probably be appointment-based cause I’m not just doing like a sweat shop...I’ve done that mad times and it’s mad annoying. So um, I would just had a flash out and probably have like 2 or 3 appointments; tattoo them. Then I wanna have a big animation that I would release that day, like a movie. And then the rest of the installation would be different art pieces, like a few paintings, some sculptures, a whole experience. And interactive too, 3-D models, all that shit. I enjoy people coming to see art and actually experience it forreal and being able to see their face and see them appreciate it. If it’s interactive, then yeah you can take a couple of pictures but, for the most part, you’ll remember the experience. I feel like, now, we’re too disconnected from too many events. We’ll go, we’ll see it, look around, take a couple of pictures and then go home. But if you feel like you’ve actually experienced something hten you leave on a better note and then you’re talking to everybody about it. If I had funding for it, I would do an interactive museum with a tour”.

With several different forms, there’s usually never a time in which LaVan isn’t working. Through all the creating and developing, it sometimes can get difficult to have one dominant message the generated content. With LaVan, it’s not that he doesn’t have a message, but this message is consistently transforming as he grows as an artist:

“The funny thing about that is that my message keeps evolving. There was a time where I just wanted to create every day; but now I am. So now it’s like, the message that I kinda wanna convey is…as of lately, I’ve been going back into myself and what makes me tick, and you know, mental health as well. I’ve been dipping into different arenas. So, like I’ll backtrack into stuff I’ve done in the military, my family life, different things that created me and the way I think. I’m doing that to experience those feelings so I’m able to recreate them and touch people’s lives. I’m trying to figure out way to transcend through, like, emotions. So, I don’t have a one particular message because I’m in a transition phase. Before it was just ‘chasing dreams, do whatever you want’—I still feel that strongly, but now it’s more personal. As my story transforms, my art transforms with me and my messages change overtime, just like with life”.

Continuously transforming and producing, at times, it can become difficult for an artist to keep up with the demand of their work and, overall, find inspiration with what they are doing. When moments like this occur, LaVan alters the world around him and takes it all in as much as possible:

“I’m kind of like a cartoon character. The way I just view the world and set up everything, is more on an animated vibe. I’m very animated with the way I express myself; I go from nonchalant to crazy. So, I kinda keep myself entertained through that. whenever I’m feeling down, ill crack jokes or look for stuff that I know will make me happy; from there, that’s how I’m able to create whatever I wanna create. So, if I’m sitting like, bills and all this other shit is starting to bother me, then I just look for inspiration on Pinterest, Tumbler, or just talking to family and friends and getting ideas from them. That’s what keeps me motivated: the people that I talk to and the people that are around me, and also just searching for the inspiration and keeping my mind open to it”.

“I think putting my life and other’s people life into my work is the easiest form of inspiration. When I hear or experience certain things, I get ideas and they just pop into my head. I’ve gotten better at actually visualizing ideas in my head and translating onto a piece of paper exactly how I see them”.

Keeping an open mind and heart, however, can result in an artist’s work being criticized and sometimes even rejected. For LaVan, though, he doesn’t see rejection as something negative. Rather, rejection is something that should keep an artist pushing and striving for more:

“Nah; rejection makes me go harder, all the time, especially falling. Like, different problems, different things I’ve encountered pushes me further because I like to analyze myself, a lot, and after it happened I’ll analyze what I did wrong, what was in the situation and how can I come up with creative ways to fix it; I like to problem solve. Rejection just pushes me forward.”

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“A time when I was rejected? Maybe I misspoke…lol. My work has not been rejected, at all. People have been just going with my creative direction, and that’s a blessing. Honestly, when it comes to art, I don’t really see it as a rejection, I see it as a revision. When people are like ‘nah I don’t like this idea’, I’m like ‘ight, here’s a new one, what you think about this’. There’s never a complete collapse, just a pitstop”.

This 24-year-old artist has been making his mark in the world and LaVan Wright is going to stop creating anytime soon. Let’s see what he imagines next.

Stay up-to-date of all the paintings, designs and tattoos created by LaVan Wright:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/lavanwright/

Website: https://www.lavanwright.com/

Welcome to the Animated-Painted-Digitized World of LaVan Wright (Part I)

by Deiona Monroe

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Not bound by one type of medium, LaVan Wright is a tattoo artist, graphic designer and painter; he enjoys embracing the exploration of boundaries. Queens, New York born but raised throughout the city, his first exposure came from the launch of a clothing brand entitled Kreemo. Currently, LaVan is running Lone Wolf: a design business with a long list of successful projects and executions.

He always knew he loved art and loved transcending his thoughts onto a canvas, using his creations to help him overcome the obstacles he’s faced and keep him balanced in—what can be—a chaotic world:

“Using my art to help overcome anything in my life? Hhhmmmmm, hmmmm that’s a good question to start with. I feel like…I do that with all of them, all of my artwork. It’s always inspired by something that I’m going through. So, like, every single piece that I do, it has to do with something that I’m going through; like even if it’s for someone else, which is weird. It’s like, I’ll look back on [my work] and I’ll just see that I was kinda telling a story about my life in something that I’ve just created; I do that a lot."

With so many different mediums that he uses to express his inner most thoughts to his many audiences, LaVan stepped into the art world originally with a love of music and using this love to create, execute and form a piece that—unexpectedly—got him some well-earned recognition. This was one of the first pieces he ever created:

“One that I can remember was a Lupe Fiasco piece, it was like a graphic design piece. It was a piece where it was just him, and like tentacles wrapped around his head. It was just a big crazy piece. The reason why I did it is because I love music and I was listening to his music—I was a big Lupe fan in high school, still am—but while I was listening to it the idea just came to my head. And I was just by myself. And in the moments that I’m by myself and don’t have to think about anything else or get distracted by anything else I kinda just zone in on my artwork. A lot of my best art comes from the times that I’m isolated. That was the first one I did, and we actually got Lupe to see it, which was dope. We made like buttons and other paraphernalia; we brought it down to Atlanta for him; that was the first time a celebrity saw my work. This was like in 2009 or 2010.”

Though acknowledged for his amazing work, that wasn’t—and isn’t—why LaVan does what he does. Rather, his work is a visual representation of what is going on in his life and using these various mediums to transcend his life to the people who view it.

“Ok. I think…ight let me handle the first question. Do I transcend my life into my work? Yeah, I do. I feel like the best form of inspiration is, literally, the stuff that I go through. Whatever I go through I kinda like, feel it, 100%, and I don’t try to hide myself from it and I take everything in. and from there, I just stare at a blank piece of paper or just let myself process it, and just let myself create whatever comes to mind. So, literally, everything that I create has something to do with how I’m feeling”.

“Ok, part 2 [how do you do so and why do you do it]. It’d be easier if I broke everything down. As you already know, I do paintings, tattoos, graphic design work; those are the three pillars I use right now. For the graphic design work, that’s mostly me communicating with people and figuring out their ideas and figuring out a way to take what’s in their head and putting it out on a piece of paper. With that, that’s more of connecting with people, understanding their dreams and how they want their dreams to be illustrated to everybody else. When it comes to painting, that’s more or less my life. Whatever I feel; whatever my emotions are. If I’m sad, Ima paint something sad with a lot of blue colors; if I’m happy Ima paint with more lively colors. The painting is the stronger conduit for like my feelings and my life. For tattooing, it’s another connecting. Graphic designing is a connecting over the phone; tattooing is more of a connecting in person. I get to learn about people’s lives and become sort of like a part-time therapist”.

With producing work that captures his own life and illustrating the lives of all those he comes into contact with, it is inevitable that stress occurs when interacting with so many different people on numerous mediums. Though a headache, stress isn’t something that is impossible to deal with, because it’s impossible to not encounter it:

“This is going to sound weird, but the main thing that gives me stress is dealing with people that don’t understand the art. Cause, uh, it be cool if I was just doing art and selling it, but I’m working with people. I do paintings and sell the paintings; that’s me doing whatever I want and people buying it. But, when it’s a situation when I’m actually doing services, like tattooing or graphic design…tattooing not so much but graphic design is the biggest headache. Cause I don’t think people really understand how much time it takes to actually design something, especially when you’re doing it from scratch. The biggest thing is that people don’t know what they want. So, you as the graphic designer, you’re supposed to be able to pull that out of them. But the thing that gets me mad—which you have to have like rules of how you handle it—is that sometimes when you show somebody something, they’ll get inspired by it and either completely change their idea or try to make too many changes”.

“Graphic design is more impersonal than all the other mediums that I do. I’m not face-to-face with people; I can meet with them one time, get all their ideas, but after the fact it’s like I still have to get the work done on my own time. with tattooing, I meet up with them, we sit down, we come up with the idea, I tattoo them, everybody goes about their day. The most stressful one is just reaching a bridge in communication so that everybody is happy. Cause it’s already hard for me to try to pull an idea out of somebody else’s head, but if they don’t know the whole process, then it makes it even worse”.

“I try to deal with it by trying to communicate with them or like punch a wall… nah I’m playing. But forreal, I try to figure out what I’m not doing to, like, convey the message. ‘What am I missing? Am I not explaining this properly?’ And if that doesn’t work, then I just take a break and go for a walk or something”.

“Girl Power “Also Known as “JAM”: Here is Julie Amara McGrath

by Deiona Monroe

Julie Amara McGrath—most commonly and creatively called JAM—is a California born and New York based artist with aspirations in fashion, femininity, and all things beautiful. Her work is impressionistic and whimsical, utilizing the flexibility of acrylic to provide an oil-esque experience.

Highly influenced by painters like Claude Monet and Wayne Thiebaud, JAM has an affinity for color and its ability to set a mood. This self-taught artist takes part in monthly shows throughout the five boroughs, landing her a feature in an upcoming Netflix documentary. Though she has such a full and vibrant schedule, we were able to get into the life of the artist who goes by JAM:

What was one of the first pieces that you’ve ever created and what inspired you to make said piece?

“The first serious piece I ever made as an adult was a girl with a flower crown in her hair and she was sipping on some chamomile tea. I wanted to create a feeling of serenity and peace because I wanted to make others feel that emotion. I think art is so powerful because its one of the only occupations in life that you can construct a feeling”.

Do you transcend your life into your work? If so, how do you do so and why do you do it?

“I bring my life into my work by taking elements that I enjoy in life—like picnics, flowers, coffee, etc.—and bring them all together to make a cohesive piece. I think this makes my work more personal, like I’m putting my soul into it”.

What is the driving force behind a piece you are currently working on?

“My driving force is always girl power and the feminine divine, but the piece I’m working on currently is meant to convey the fact that we are all trying to create our own space in this world and we are slowly wading through the time continuum trying to get to our own personal goals. The piece is of a girl with a fish bowl/astronaut helmet on and she can see planets ahead (her goals) as well as creatures (possible obstacles she may face)”.

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Are there any elements to being an artist that brings you stress? If so, how do you cope with the stress?

“There are many stress elements in being an artist. But like anything you just learn to get a thick skin to it and move along with your life. Stress does nothing, only action does”.

Bringing her life into her work and using her artistic talent to promote girl power and the feminine divine, JAM doesn’t let any outsiders get her down or distract her from what she is accomplishing with her work. In this world, a girl has to keep her heart strong and her skin even thicker.

To strive and push forth in this world, it’s going to take some guts and some blocking-of-stress to get the job done. Without artists like JAM—reminding us that stress isn’t a solution and staying true to your personal goals is key—the world would be a little more haunting. Let us remember to love our artists and appreciate the work that they do.

Stay connected with this bundle of girl power:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/artfinityandbeyond/

Website: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-IHZyrWtop311OiBec_2qQ

Bright Colors and Bright Moods: The Painter named Yvena Despagne

by Deiona Monroe

Living in Brooklyn, NY, Yvena Despagne is a Haitian-American. She grew up with the tradition from her Haitian culture, raised and taught how to appreciate the richness within the arts.

From reading, to writing and once playing orchestral music, Yvena knew the arts was always in her. However, she didn’t discover her painting abilities until the summer of 2016, while in search for an outlet from the stress she was experiencing from her past. Through self-teaching, Yvena learned how to utilize the basics of art and practiced consistently.

With a concentration in abstract art, Yvena loves having the freedom to create what's in her mind, which can be seen vividly through her artwork.

Once she is in her space of creating, it not only becomes Yvena’s down time, but her way of distressing from reality, her pain, and the ugliness in the world. When Yvena is in her zone, her imagination awakens, and she is free to create. With such passion and drive, we were able to get some amazing responses from Yvena:

Have you ever used your art in order to make a creation that helped overcome anything in your life? If so, would you mind sharing the story?

“3 years ago I was going through a divorce and was leading into depression. I decided to take control of the situation, because I use to be depressed as a teenager and had a difficult time recovering from that. I chose to look for a positive outlet and found a YouTube tutorial on painting, so I decided to learn how to paint. Painting was very therapeutic for me and allowed me time to heal from my troubles and take time to learn more about myself. Eventually a hobby turned into a career path. I have been growing as an artist ever since”.

What was one of the first pieces that you’ve ever created and what inspired you to make said piece?

“The first piece I ever painting was an 8x10 scenery of a lake with trees at night. It was very calming to watch the tutorial and inspired me to buy all the necessary material to try it for myself. It was the first time ever I was able to stop thinking about anything, but painting on that canvas”.

Do you transcend your life into your work? If so, how do you do so and why do you do it?

“I paint with a lot of bright happy colors. I discovered later about myself that I paint happy sceneries or things that uplift me to change my mood of what is transcending in my everyday life that makes me sad or upset. Whenever I feel down I turn to may work as an artist to help me. My paintings have thought me how to control my moods and have more patients with what happens in my everyday life”.

What is the driving force behind a piece you are currently working on?

“The driving force behind a current piece I am working on is an expression of the new woman I have become. 3 years ago, I was sad, had very little confidence and didn't find reason to stand up for myself. My work today shows how confident I am in myself and how much I believe my work, which speaks volumes to others around me”.

Are there any elements to being an artist that brings you stress? If so, how do you cope with the stress?

“Being an artist may be one of the hardest careers anyone may go after. You face a lot of rejection, people may not like the type of work you produce (and that is ok). You have to truely believe in your talent and it must have true value and meaning to what you love and who you are. If not how is anyone else to believe in your work?”

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Using her brush to leave her heart on the canvas, Yvena Despagne is an artist that is both unique and powerful. She isn’t afraid to put her life into her work and her honesty behind her work is even more uplifting. Because she isn’t afraid to speak her truth, her work speaks to all those who take the time to view. Yvena isn’t just changing her life by releasing her deepest worries into her art but helping those in which stories may align with hers.

Keep up-to-date with the creations of this painter:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/yvenadespagneart/

Website: www.yvenadespagneart.com