With the huge success of his first solo art show “The Good, The Bad and The Exceptionally Beautiful”, we got to sit down and chat it up with Corey and ask him about his life and his first solo art show.
What made you realize that art was your passion? Why?
I never really realized it, I just kinda started drawing. My earliest memories are of me doodling on light yellow notepad with a ballpoint pen that I stole from my mother’s job. Every year, I would notice I was improving a little bit, so even at a young age I started thinking it was a good idea to pursue it as a life long career. I used to watch Double Dragon and Johnny Quest and other Saturday morning cartoons like that, I wanted to draw cool characters like them, so originally I wanted to be an animator, until I finally got to college and realized I didn’t like it, it was way too much work. I tend to be lazy sometimes; I like things to be easy. Investing a month worth of labor for a few seconds of animation doesn’t really fit with my idea of fun.
How old where you when you first picked up the paint brush/ charcoal/ colored pencil/ sharpie?
I was 3 or 4 when I first decided it be good idea to draw a mural for my grandmother all over her basement wall with the cheap set of Rosie Art crayons I had. Of course, she didn’t appreciate the idea as much as I did, and thanked me for my masterpiece with a spanking. Afterwards she decided to nurture my passion by taking me to the art store. I remember being so excited at first, but we was kinda poor, so when we got there all I could afford was a spiral bound sketch book, some color pencils, and one of those “how to draw comics” books. I studied, copied, and traced everything in that book several times for a couple of years, until my mother finally got me a new one.
What was your collective inspiration for your displayed art pieces at your art show?
For this show in particular, I was obsessed with capturing the carefree mentality of childhood. I’ve been experiencing a bit of the Peter Pan complex right now. Growing up we was poor as fuck, I lived in some of the worst neighborhoods, my mother would even give us our allowance in food stamps sometimes. But none of that mattered, I don’t even think I new I was poor, or black, or anything. I just wanted to have fun, not a responsibility in the world. That feeling was great! I think subconsciously everyone wants to relive their childhood. This show was about doing whatever I felt, regardless of what was happening around me. The subject of each individual piece is a bit more complex, but that’s just a general synopsis on the style.
What was the concept behind the title: “The Good, The Bad and The Exceptionally Beautiful” the theme to your art show?
That title came from alot. Really it’s about good things that come out of bad situations, and it ultimately ends up being a beautiful experience. At the beginning of the year I wasn’t even thinking about doing a solo show, I was focused on Plush .357 and my music. Originally, I host an annual group art exhibition, with all of my favorite local artist. But after having a fight with my best friend and breaking up with my girlfriend, all they had to offer was one piece of advice, “Just focus on your art.” Wow… What a great idea, how come thought of that myself? Well, not in that sense. So after that I was like fuck everyone. I mean, I’ve been reaching out to help everyone, and I didn’t see how they were contributing back to me. So I might as well focus all of my energy into myself, not to sound selfish, but that’s been working perfectly.
What were your feelings and thoughts going into your first solo art show?
I thought it was dope, the body of work was total accordance, the crowd was nice ad I sold a few pieces. I just wished there was a stronger art scene in Atlanta. Everyone comes out to support and drink up all the free wine, but nobody ever buys any art. Which is the reason why I sold lower forms of art, merchandise, so it can all be affordable to everyone. I wanted everybody to leave with something, rather it be a painting or a postcard. But what I really hate is the whole black art scene. Or even the idea of being a black or African American artist. Why can’t I just be an American? Most ‘black art’ sucks, actually most of the black artist they traditionally choose to publicize suck. I just think you put yourself into a very small box when you label youself a black artist. we spent a week in art history learning about Di Vinci and half a day on the entire history of black art. I’m sick of black people painting naked women, elongated jet black Africans in bright sheets, or charcoal sketched rappers and calling it art. How does any of that reflect the mentality and culture of what is going on now? When I make art, I do my best to speak the voice of my generation.
Who would you say are your artistic idols? And why?
I try not to pay too much attention to what’s going in the art scene, so I don’t get the subliminal urge to copy or steal ideas, so I just to try keep to myself and study as many styles and mediums as possible. Really my favorite artist are all close friends of mine, James Daniel, Brandon Sadler AKA Lean, The Humaneze, Juicy J, and Miya Bailey, but currently I like the work of Damien Hurst, KAWS, Dalek, and Taskahi Murakami. Traditionally i like Caravaggio and Andy Warhol. I like people who push the boundaries of art, but still manage to capture the essence of their time and culture.
Could there be a Corey Davis art book in the making?
Yes, actually there is! I working on an art book with UNB called “You Shoulda never Gave Them Niggaz Money” with several artist including Juicy J. It’s a book featuring some of our latest illustrations along with an editorials and biographies. Its gonna be dope, we’ll be releasing that in late June 2009. In September, I’m going to be releasing a children’s picture book called “The Neverminds” that my girlfriend and I have been working on. And finally, James Daniel and I will be releasing a graphic novel inspired by N.E.R.D’s ‘In Search of’ album called ‘Provider’ in 2010.
What is your concentration of art?
I don’t really have a concentration. I’m a bit of a scatterbrain; I get bored easily so I’m pretty much everywhere. One second, I might be working on some graphics then the next I’m painting, then I’m tattooing, then I’m rushing home to meet a deadline for an illustration. Controlled Chaos. Really, it depends on what due next and which project I like the most. You can find me somewhere in between there.
Other than picturesque art, artistically, what other venues do you reach out artistically?
Ultimately, I would like to be a filmmaker; I wanted to work in the film industry since middle school. I like writing stories and creating characters, setting up shots and editing. It’s all so exciting to me. So next year I’m moving to LA to pursue my career as a director.
Any other shows coming up?
Yeah, my goal is expanding, so up next is Louisville, Cincinnati and DC in the summer. Then hopefully I can pull some strings in LA, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. Then Tokyo, Berlin, and Paris.
How do you stay focused?
Lol, believe it or not, I smoke alot of weed. I don’t think it makes me a better artist or anything like that. But it definitely makes me more patience and it keeps my brain from bouncing out of my head. When the pressure builds up and shit gets stressful. It makes me more tolerant of things that I don’t want to do. But really, I believe it’s just my ambition for achieving something great and making my mark on the world before I die. I’m always feeling like there’s not enough time to do everything I want to accomplish, so I just do as much as possible. It interferes with my personal life a bit, my friends always say I over work myself, but that’s just because I can’t always find time to entertain them.
Who is your main supporter while you are in school, focusing on your art?
Myself. I didn’t want to take out any loans, so I can be in debt when I graduated. My mom makes decent money, but not enough to pay for private school, but shes there to support me mentality. I have a rich ass grandfather who doesn’t do shit for me, even when I ask, so I pretty much pay for all of my classes out of pocket (with the exception of a few scholarships). Alot of the money I make tattooing goes straight towards tuition. It kinda hurt me in January when I made a $1500 check and had to take it straight to the bursar. lol
What is “Plush.357?? And Can you us a little about it?
Plush .357 is a clothing company that some friends and I started back in 2006 as a series of art in an artshow. Originally, it was designed to provoke political response, but it has evolved into more of an exclusive brand. We hand print alot of the shirts ourselves in limited quantities.
You also have a group called “Mach 5?, is it based off the Mach 5 off Speed Racer?
Yeah, when A.ware and I was trying to figure out names, one of the main things that we had in common was our childhood appreciate for the cartoon, Speed Racer. Being that were both from the Midwest, we thought that name would perfectly suit our speedy style and deliveries.
Random: In the words of Tupac, he wonders if heaven has a ghetto. What do you think?
No, I actually like to think that heaven is this nice classy, euphoric place with chandlers, fine hoes and expensive bottled water. There are no Cadillacs, or homeless people, or niggaz saying “shawty”. But there is a weed man…. With good prices… Oh yeah, and hot wings… lol
Finally, Are there any last words you have for the people reading this right now?
Stop wasting so much time surfing the internet. Reading blogs and watching randoms on youTube and go do something great with your life! Thank you to Asahi for all the Beer, my Mother, and everyone else who supports me.
For more information on Corey Davis check out www.iamcoreydavis.com
Photos: Hannibal Matthews