Ever since getting into shooting and editing my own images, I’ve felt as though the way I see the world around me has evolved. Having at least attempted to create art from everything between hotel wallpaper and flowers, I now view my environment with a sort of transformative curiosity.
“How would it look like at this angle?”
“What if I inverted the colors?
“I wonder if I could make this like that?”
Running all the possibilities through my mind made my brain boil in the best way possible. I would even go as far as to say I have felt more confidently inspired in these past few months though my digital art than I have in years.
One great example of what is spawned of this rejuvenated creativity is a small series I’ve titled, ‘Celestial Serpentskin.’ The pure shades of copper, its sheen when in the sunlight, and the intricacy of its pattern made a piece of shed snakeskin a perfect subject matter.
My affinity to astral and stellar scenery is likely showing itself here, but a simple combination the two resulted in a pair of the best patterns I’ve created to date.
“Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody You go tell somebody Grandma told me, ‘Get your money, Black man! (get your—Black man) Get your money!”
I have been a big fan of Childish Gambino and his alter ego Donald Glover ever since my senior year of highschool. His album, ‘Camp,’ released at a pivotal point in my young life and became a retreat into something refreshingly relatable. Through every advancement, endeavor, and evolution of his career, Donald’s served as a constant inspiration, proof that even nerdy Black kids can grow up to be pretty cool too. In both his music and his direction, his method of surreal satire has people truly reevaluate the lines between reality and fiction and is an element I’ve attempted to emulate in my own personal writing. ‘This is America,’ showed off his surreal satire in rare form, a catchy critique of American culture that even started a movement of locally inspired remixes in nations worldwide.
My piece inspired by its music video was inspired by the sort of Harlem Renaissance style art I remember seeing in the households of my family as a kid, something instantly and seamlessly synonymous with Black American culture.
“I paint self portraits because I am so often alone, because I know myself best.”
It hadn’t been long into my experimentations with graphic art that I attempted to incorporate images of myself. I had always enjoyed being illustrated by others; it intrigued me seeing how someone other than me viewed and the way in which they would bring that vision to life.
The bad handwriting my highschool teachers so frequently made comments about was indicator enough that any sort of pen-to-paper art lied beyond my talents. Drawing had long been a wish for me and being able to remix images on my phone has become the closest thing I’ve ever had making that wish come true.
Through my self portraits, each with their own themes and inspirations, I guess what I sought was how I viewed myself and how I could bring those visions to life.
Though the assignment eventually opened up to having a more open subject matter, our Ireland travelogues were originally intended to be a reflection of our individual experiences with the adventure as well as a statement on where each of us felt we stood in our personal lives.
Going to Ireland was the swan song of an emotional and arduous semester, one in which I was forced to ask myself many questions about the person I am and the person I would seek to be headed forward.
The video linked here serves as the embodiment of that self exploration. It is titled, “Ephemeral, yet eternal.”
To wrap up my senior of at Rutgers Camden, I participated in a study aboard trip to Ireland with the mission of studying the land, culture, and history to craft a travelogue video. I never saw myself as much of a photographer. Sure I had always had a deep appreciation of imagery and its various forms, but to be the person up capture it myself? Often enough, that was not the case, but after Ireland, that changed dramatically.
A goal of the course was for the students to record their footage solely on their smartphones and seeing as I had cracked the camera on my current phone on vacation a year before, I upgraded to a brand new LG V30+. Rumor had it that the V30’s camera was as crisp and clear as any other on the market and said rumors did not disappoint.
Amongst many others, each capable of transporting me back to the moments captured, my favorite shots turned out to be my series of the Emerald Isle’s vastly diverse flora. Who’d have thought the key to me finding my eye would be a new phone & a little flower power?