Although we live in a World commonly referred to as ‘The Matrix’, with all things internet-social and typically technological, some folks manage to find a core outlet, which is really a gift for themselves and for others, this something, we call “Art”!
A word of many meanings to multiple perceptions, Art’s true definition is in its essence.
A blank piece of paper turned into a coiled dove , 16 sentences turned into a harmony, a portrait of a woman so captivating its legacy outgrows the influence, and not because of the act itself, but because of the “feel”.
There I was, scrolling aimlessly on Instagram one Saturday afternoon expecting nothing more the normal hoorah, I then came across a portrait of Notorious B.I.G.. The shading immediately caught my eye! Its intensity brought to life the features of the now deceased Legend.
There have been countless paintings, portraits, and replicas of the well-known Brooklyn Artist, but this particular portrait caught my eye. After some time of ‘paroozing’ and lurking, ha ha, I decided to reach out to the artist himself. Below is an up close and personal with the man behind the vision, Dee Thompson.
His story, his craft and most importantly, his message!
Me: Please introduce yourself to everyone who may be unfamiliar. Who you are and what you do!
Dee: Well, my name is Darius but everyone knows me by “Dee” and I’m an artist. I paint and draw. (with a humble stature and subtle smirk) I don’t really like the title “artist” I feel I’m just a regular guy with creative hobbies.
Me: Interesting enough. Well I must say you totally ‘look’ like an artist. Or maybe an Underground Rapper haha. Just kidding… How long have you been at your craft? Judging from your work, it doesn’t seem to have any staples on it. It definitely has modern feel but not so much so something that is new to you..
Dee: I’ve been drawing off and on since I was about 7 years old. Its funny cause with me I don’t take my art too serious. Sometimes I go months without picking up a pencil to draw anything! I have to really be inspired and in the mood to create something. There are times seeing someone elses art may inspire me to create, or an idea might come to mind and I’ll play around with that idea. For instance, I’ll see a fashion magazine or drive past some random graffiti on the streets, and then create. Music also inspires me a lot.
I usually put my head phones on when I’m working on something. (chuckles a bit) I used to be a DJ in high school.
Me: Cut it out! Let me get a spin. Haha, I could see that in you.
Dee: I always tried being creative. I drew up this logo the DJ group I was a part of called the “Fabulous 3″. I was always trying to find some way to be creative and express myself.
Me: That’s cool. So from the turn tables to the Pallet… How did it begin? Was painting something you kept to yourself?
Dee: It began with me drawing power rangers actually. I used to draw the characters off video games and cereal boxes when I was young just for fun. I looked at it as a hobby, I always wanted to be a fashion designer though. That’s where I felt my drawings can go beyond just a piece of paper or a canvas. With clothing, those drawings and illustrations can be brought to life and worn, and seeing an idea or drawing become something tangible like a shirt, hat, denim etc., is amazing to me!
Me: I absolutely agree. For something to be a figment of your imagination one day and brought to life the next is absolutely amazing. It’s a subtle reminder that anything is possible, you know?!
Dee: In high school me and my boy sold custom shirts we made out of our lockers. Seeing that people appreciated my art and the way I customized my clothes opened my eyes to the possibility of doing something in fashion or the art field.
Me: Safe to say that may be a future endeavor. I see lots of people collaborating with my brands such as H&M and stores like Top Shop and Target. Two different markets with endless possibilities! That would be cool. Even something in that arena is sure to require lots of work and dedication. With pursuit comes challenge…. With that said, what would you say has been your greatest hurdle [as an artist] so far?
Dee: My challenge would be staying motivated. Like I mentioned before, its hard to stay motivated. I get in moods where I’m not creating because I’m not inspired. I like my work to be organic and not forced. So finding motivation is my challenge. Pushing myself to complete things I normally wouldn’t is a big challenge also. I just started doing human portraits 2 months ago and that has been a huge learning experience and challenge for me too.
Me: That is actually what drew me to your work. Your portrait of Malcolm X! Portraits have got to be difficult. A person like me would say something ridiculous such as, “he didn’t even do my face right.” Haha! Portraits are definitely something I’ve known for artists to shy away from for that very reason. Kudos to you!
Would you say you feel any pressure being labeled an Artist? What do you think of that term in our new-age world?
Dee: (lowers head in laughter) Thank you, but yes, there is pressure in my opinion. People automatically put you in a category expecting great things from you based on their knowledge of what an ” Artist” is. For example, considering the dopest artist they know of, they compare you to them instantly just because you both paint or draw, design or whatever. It puts you in a box creatively. Art is self expression, a lot of times I see things people create and call “Art” I don’t understand. That’s whats great about Art! It’s so many different forms of it, you can’t really label it. In today’s age, there are crazy talented people! Kids drawing pictures I probably never could do at like age 11. I see stuff on Instagram from young kids that blow me away.
Me: Well put. Comparing anyone or anything absolutely buts you in a box. I think that folks sometimes are under the impression that there is a right or wrong to Creation, and there isn’t. That is the beauty of Creation. It’s really it’s own thing. I actually went to the Keith Haring Exhibit last year at the Brooklyn Museum and I was blown away at his work. Merely because it was so much of his own thing. Simple and intriguing. I feel like it to you to his mind at that time. He became one of my favorite Artists. Anyone who paints themselves into a corner is pretty damn awesome. Who thinks of that?!
Speaking of favorites, who is your favorite Artist?
Dee: Keith Harrng is dope. Rudolf Vogul is a crazy artist! It’s a lot of ArtistS I admire ’cause so many bring different things to the table. We all want to leave something behind that lives forever; for me that would be my kids. As far as Art, I’d like to feel something I’ve done or created inspired someone say way, shape, or form. They say no one praises you ’til you’re gone, but I’d like to get the roses while I can still smell them.
I don’t want people to admire my work only when I’m gone, but things seem to work out that way if you look at everyone that’s past and left behind a legacy.
Me: True indeed. One of my favorite poetry books is “A Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Shakur, one of the most relative book of poems I have read to date. Sadly so, it will probably be ages before he is acknowledged as a poet, and that he truly was, but those ‘boxes’ society is so eager to put folks in has labeled him otherwise. Would you say you fit into any ‘box’?
Dee: My work, is a mixture of modern and reality. I do portraits of music artist, actors, etc. I try to bring to life people that are popular in our culture as far as music, reality TV, and sports. I feel like those people spark a time and place in history. I’m inspired a lot by fashion spreads in magazines. I actually want to start tying that into my art, right now. [Basically], I’m pretty random with my direction.
It’s all about what mood I’m in…
Me: I can dig it. Before I let you go and do what you down to Mars Artists do, haha, I have to ask will we be seeing more of your work? Any upcoming projects we should know of? Let the people know how to keep updated and in-touch…
Dee: I post a lot of my work on Instagram. My name on there is @DeeThompson_ . I’m thinking about starting a blog with my art. [If so, everyone can def check me there.]
[As for upcoming projects or just the future in general] Photography is always something I’ve wanted to mess around with. That will probably be a big part of an upcoming project. I’m [currently] working on a children’s book also.
(Laughing while adjusting his cap) he saysRight now I’m a lil’ all over the place with ideas and creating! Just trying to see what sticks and keeps my attention.
Me: Sounds good to me! I will continue to follow your work. If you get any H&M deals keep me in mind, haha. Thanks again for your time Dee! It’s been real.