Author: Joycelynn Okezie
Hi Aisha! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. How are you? What’s on your mind these days?
Thanks for giving me the opportunity! I’m really good though. Currently, I’ve been focusing on my art and a few new ventures.
At what age/moment did you get into the arts?
Well I’ve drawn since I was little, but I started painting when I graduated college in 2012 and have been painting ever since.
Would you consider painting your passion?
Definitely, it’s the one thing I can sit and do for hours straight without interruption. It’s like therapy sometimes.
What time in your life did you start to realize that you were really good at crafting art?
I just never stopped doodling, doing the same arts and crafts from when I was little. I always did things like paint t-shirts, decorated my dorm with drawings, and even wrote stories.
I notice a common thread of a black renaissance theme throughout your pieces. For example: Juice, Malcolm X, Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, etc. What inspires you to paint the pieces that you do?
I usually paint portraits of people that inspire me or with whom I share similar social beliefs. I just paint what I know, things from my childhood like the Juice painting. I grew up on Tupac and my dad told me a lot about Malcolm X. Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu are two of my favorite musical artists. So it’s just things that I see and listen to day to day.
When did you start to realize that this is something you could profit from?
That didn’t happen until I actually sold a painting. For a while, people liked my pieces but no one ever bought anything. Once the first woman bought the “Last Supper” painting, I guess I had a feeling that maybe more people would start to want stuff too.
What types of musical influences inspire your art?
My favorite types of music are r&b, hip hop, 90s r&b, and Motown, so you may notice a mix of older artists and newer, especially as I have more time to do more paintings. Like the scene I painted of Diana Ross and Lil Kim. I remember that so distinctly because I loved them both. I grew up listening to Supremes, watching Mahogany and I loved Lil Kim at the time, so it was like the best of both worlds. When I saw the picture on Tumblr I had to paint it. I love all of Erykah Badu, Kendrick and Tupac’s music so I had to paint them as well.
Do you listen to music as you paint?
I listen to music or watch movies and tv shows. I don’t have any particular type of setting I need to be in.
At times, it feels as though painting has become a lost art due to everyone using Photoshop, InDesign and digital art instead of physically painting. What are your thoughts on that?
I definitely notice that because the internet and social media plays a big part in everything we do. But you do have a few people who still want original artwork for their homes or self-portraits with an artistic spin, so that’s what keeps it alive I guess. I’ve also done a book and album cover, so even though that’s typically the job of a digital artist, some people still like something different every once in a while.
I noticed some rad earring on your website which were originally crafted by you! What other types of artworks do you craft?
I’ve made hair pins and bracelets and am working to get into t-shirts. I also sew old clothes into crop tops or take in skirts for myself. Little odds and ends things.
Has “that moment” hit you to where you’ve felt like yeah “this is what I’m called to do” and if so what sparked that moment?
It’s weird because lately it’s like I’m realizing I never stopped feeling that. Like I mentioned before, I always drew and wrote stories, me and my sister did plays in home videos. I never stopped creating things. I even took a couple of art and acting classes in college. It was just a matter of opportunity and time for me to practice it. As things start to fall into place more, it’s starting to feel more real.
Do you attend a university? If so which one and what inspired you to attend there?
I graduated from UMBC in 2012. At the time I went there because it was an honors university and it was a good distance from home; not too close, not too far. I wasn’t a big college person though, so it was okay. It really showed me that I had to, at least, try to do art for a living.
In this day and age, does your family favor you pursuing business endeavors for your artwork versus a college career, or both? Why?
My parents always made sure I knew to stay realistic and handle business first, before going into art. because you do need something to fall back on. You either make it to the spotlight or you don’t, and if you do it’s only temporary. You have to have other skills. So I finished school first and now have a full time job using my accounting degree and I do art on the side. It’s important I can always support myself and do what I love at the same time. They can see that’s the case so they don’t have an issue with it, they’re very supportive.
Do you have a favorite piece?
The Kendrick Lamar one is definitely a favorite. It was the first portrait that I did with that style. I loved the blue background and the colors in his sweater. I also like “When Our World’s Collide” and “Let’s Talk” because they represent love. The galaxy and colors are really vibrant too. I also like “City Life” for the same reason; its bright colors.
What’s the longest it’s taken you to finish up a piece?
Right now, I’m working on a painting for my cousin that’s going on 3 or 4 months. Portraits take me a very long time sometimes, like the Juice painting. For some reason, I couldn’t get Omar Epps’ face right, and I still don’t particularly like it lol. Working full time slows me down a lot.
Where’s a cool place that you’ve seen your artwork displayed?
I just love seeing it anywhere honestly. The fact that someone likes my work enough to have it on their personal page is really cool. “Erykah & Lauryn” randomly showed up on my explore tab on Instagram and has almost 3,000 notes on Tumblr. Someone actually tweeted the picture to Erkyah Badu and she retweeted it.
Where would you like to see yourself 5 years from now?
I want to be working from home whether I’m making jewelry, attire, and other pieces of art. I just started writing for a site called SHEMovement.com so it’d be nice to be able to get into web journalism full time if possible. I also plan to start performing my spoken word, so hopefully by then I’m making it a regular thing.
For those who don’t know what sites can everyone reach you at to view your art and connect with you?
My site is artbyaisha.com
Thank you for your time Aisha, I appreciate you and your creativity!
Thank you so much for interviewing me! I appreciate it.
For more on Aisha visit: https://www.facebook.com/ArtByAisha