In my worldwide (web) journey for dope peeps, I came across the independent artist Shardae Simpson who agreed to do a quick Q&A session with us.
Let me just say, Shardae was a joy to talk to and had so much energy. Her excitement for what she does is infectious and it was evident in her playful demeanor and overall happy spirit. Lil’ homie has a lot of skill and it’s very pleasant to see it come in such a humble package. You can see the progression throughout her work. Check out our quick convo below…
So Shar, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?
I’m from the “sticks”… As in Currie North Carolina, woop-woop! [laughs]
I am 23 years old and I love anything art related! I’m a really big people person! I love meeting new people. I believe that people inspire my growth as an artist and a go-getter, whether they are in my life temporarily or long term — positive or negative. I have learned a great deal from people and that’s always just what I need to push forward…
Let me ask you this… Who would you say is your greatest inspiration and why — if you could narrow it down to one?
I surely can’t just name one! My mom for starters. I’m a big momma’s girl and all I do is to make her happy. My brother and sister — the family basically! April Alford… she is my mentor all the way and she always knows what to say to keep me going! Rakeem Simpson… we are like each other’s shadows! Always a great artistic impact with us… and last but not least my fellow artist and best friend Joel Phelps mainly because if something is out of place he will spot it [laughs]! He’s the one that told me to make my artwork my own. I took that (advice) and used it in many great ways. I’ve been moving ever since! [laughs] Some advice you just always remember!
Well, that’s quite a list – good one for sure! Can’t ever leave moms off the list. Shouts out to Mom, bro and sis, Double A, Rakeem the dream, and Joel P. [laughs]
I’m kinda always interested in people’s work areas. What’s your work area consist of on a daily basis? What’s it look like?
Well for one I can’t have mess everywhere. I hate it! It just makes me feel like I’m suffocating. [laughs] So, when I hand paint, the brushes have to be side by side, the paint has to be lined up with nothing on the floor unless its a sheet beneath me. Other than that, everything else just has to be neat-looking. As far as my digital art (is concerned) I can’t have anything around me. The Laptop blows enough hot air. [laughs]
I can tell you love your craft. It’s evident in the energy your pieces contain. I have to say, my fav piece, that I’ve seen, is the Marvin joint where he’s wearin’ the J’s. Walk with me through that piece and the thought process behind it. How’d that idea come about?
I was hoping you asked about that! [laughs] It was actually so random… I was sitting in the club house at my apartment complex and I randomly searched Marvin Gaye and up popped this photo of him in these big silver, what I called, “fugly” 70’s boots [laughs]… So I thought to myself, these need to be saved. Even though back then those boots where fly, I thought, “what if he was wearing another shoe?” the first shoe that came to mind was Jordan’s — because who doesn’t love J’s right? [smiles] Oddly enough it worked out and at that time he was — and still is — one of my popular pieces.
Well, I think it’s
marvelous incredible…with the story it tells. Like, I feel like if he was still around, he would rock those.
Do you do a lot of commissions?
Yes! I do mixtape covers now. I just started hand painting in January of this year and I’ve grasped that pretty quickly — getting into doing commissions for those very slowly.
How can people contact you if they’re interested in commissioned pieces?
You can contact me through Email and or Instagram…
What is your favorite piece?
Oh my gosh! I have so many… but if I had to choose one, it would probably be my “Tut”. They all have a story but I absolutely adore the story behind “Tut”. He was like a breaking point for me!
I had started digital painting in 2011 and progressed a little too fast for some people — to the point where they were suspecting my work to be just painted over the image… that I drew it from basically traced and filtered. It took word from my friends’ and my “I can show you better than I can tell you” type attitude to find something new.
I saw the famous King Tut’s tomb on television and thought, “that dude’s face is so dry looking.” [laughs] I then automatically thought of the popular facial expression everyone was doing at that time. No one (artistically) was really even changing Tut’s face… then I even did a little research to make sure no one had already done what was on my mind. I found nothing, so I worked on Tut for 3 months in 2012. I even said I would NEVER do gold again after that… even though I did! [laughs] I received so much respect after he was put out there! I’ve even turned down a few offers because I am so attached to him! “Tut” was basically the start of my “throw-something-in-to-throw-it-off” artwork. So therefore he is and will probably always be my Favorite.
I feel like that was the money question. I think you were waiting for that one. [smiles] Great story and the outcome is of course very fateful in terms of what your work has become. Dope.
I’ve personally always creatively been reluctant to really go out and search for inspiration. I always thought it would skew my ability to be original. I’ve since realized that inspiration is necessary at times to break out of boxes. With that said, are you one that feels like studying others CAN be a bad thing?
In a way, yes. I say this because I wouldn’t want to study someone so much to the point where I want to put out work that looks like theirs. I believe that every artist has his or her own style. Studying another artist’s style, learning from it and making it your own is one thing… but studying them too much and basically turning into them is another.
My thing is, why would you want this artist’s style when you could create something that could possibly set you aside from the artist you admire and every other artist?
I would have to say I agree. I was always reluctant to even look at other’s work at all. Which was a little extreme really… I believe there is value in inspiration but like you said, not mimicking or copying. Originality is key.
So, the saying is, art imitates life. How much of what you do is a reflection of who you are? I know that’s kind of a boring book review type question but humor me.
[laughs] I don’t think its so boring. It’s a good question actually, I feel like my art is a big reflection of me because I have a big sense of humor, I love fun things, I adore odd combinations which is what my art is about. It took a while to really discover that in my art but I am more than happy I did!
Yeah the contrasting elements in your work definitely make it interesting, to say the least.
What things are you into outside of your art? You seem like you might be a collector — a haberdasher, if you will. [laughs]
I actually do collect things! I started collecting things… anything that reminds me of the fresh prince! I absolutely adore that show — hence my handle (HilaryBankz_) [laughs].
I recently got into the habit of collecting different types of cups. They have to be unique cups though. I also dabble a little in fashion…as far as altering jackets and such, but not really a whole lot of that. I love animals so much! — The furry ones only. [laughs] I love to sing, I love to act. I just try to do it all. [Sighs]
[laughs] I hear that! Regular old Jack of All Trades. Must be tough life being so real at so many things. [laughs]
Speaking of modest [smirks], hit me with your most shameless plug. What would you like people to know about you? Are there any projects in the works or news you’d like peeps to know about?
I’m currently starting a clothing brand named ArtnSoul it will be my art all over tees! I’m really excited about that! I have so many projects coming up…
I actually have two ideas I will be putting on canvas soon and I can’t wait for you all to see! So stay tuned and thank you so very much for having me!
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