What got you into art? When did you start?
I would say I started when I was around seven years old. It’s funny I would say watching Dragonball Z was the thing that first inspired me to draw. I would start drawing characters and from there just drawing people in general.
How does art allow you to express yourself than you wouldn’t typically be able to?
I think it helps me to spend time and think about things. I have drawings that don’t necessarily mean too much but rather express how I was feeling at the time. Seeing the results is great but taking the time doing it is what I feel good about the most. I really like playing with colors and just how they complement each other.
What’s your preferred medium?
I used to do sketches but I really prefer painting more. Of course, it takes longer but I like colors a lot and I like how I can combine colors without necessarily making an actual figure.
How does abstract art allow you to express something that you can’t with traditional art?
For one, all art pieces tell people about the artist. But, I think with abstract you can tell more than that. Also, people can see whatever they want, so it also describes those who are looking at [the painting]. I think some people think it is easy to do abstract work, but it’s really hard because you have to have good balance and composition. With traditional, you can look at it and it’s supposed to look a certain way. But, with abstract it doesn’t have to look a certain but you have to look at what feels right when you put it out there. I remember one time, times were tough—my car got towed and things were just going bad in general and I had to find a way to get it out. Now, when I look at that piece I was working on at the time, I remember the times I was going through. My best ones were ones in which I painted with a lot of emotion.
Who are your inspirations in and outside this field?
I get my inspirations from animes and music. Artistwise, the guys I appreciated were Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Michelangelo had great pieces but Rembrandt was a genius he has this one piece that is a perfect circle. They also had vibrant colors in their paintings. Outside of art, my brothers. My younger brother has more of a graffiti-style—my older brother drew before both of us. He doesn’t draw anymore but when I was younger I thought [older brother’s] stuff was amazing. Another big inspiration is just nature—I tend to find sweet features from the earth.
What was a proud moment you’ve had with your art?
I would have to say my last year at Richard Bland College where I did my first oil painting. At first I thought it sucked. But as I went on, I loved how multiple people got different responses when they saw it. When I brought it in for my critique, everyone was like, “Whoa, this is your style!” At first, people would say, “You do this but it feels like it’s half-way done—it’s like we almost don’t get to know you.” Then, when they saw this they were like, “Yeah, this is you—this has to be your best work.”
How did art allow you to mature as you got older?
I would say it just allowed me to express myself. People often go to the gym to blow off steam. I think painting allows me to not only burn off steam but it also allows me to express myself on a canvas. It helps me to resolve things that are going on in my heart and even appreciate the things God has made. I get to use this talent but God does the same thing. He made the clouds, He made the Earth—that is His art. God is an artist Himself.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I would say have fun with it—do what makes you feel happy. If you like a style, that’s great but if it’s not your style, then keep exploring and keep trying new things. It’s not about, ‘Oh, my art piece is better than this one.’ But rather, this represents me. So, yeah just do your own style.
What’s your favorite out of your pieces?
I still like my self-portrait—I call it “Stuck in a Painting”. I know I can do better, but that’s still my favorite right now. I did it my last semester at Richard Bland, it was actually the last assignment. It’s the only abstract self-portrait I’ve done.
"Stuck in a Painting"
Where do you hope to see yourself as an artist in the next 5-10 years?
Art isn’t my major anymore. The reason is because I’m not so ambitious. I didn’t want to be a starving artist, but rather one who does art on the side. I would rather do something that has a steady flow of income—so I went with social work. I don’t see this major as work for me because I like building relationships with people and helping them as well. I don’t want money to be my motivation but rather by the fact that people need help. This puts God first as well. But to answer your question, I would love to do pieces for people. I would like to keep the pieces I’m personally attached to. Also, maybe in the future have my own gallery.
- Sterling Giles