Interview with visual artist Nailah by Clayt.
Nailah is a visual artist residing in Los Angeles, CA by-way of Richmond, VA. Her style speaks of her soul on every canvas and she has shared her gift every since she was a child. BRASH! Magazine‘s former cover artist, Clayt, provided us with an exclusive “sit-down” with this artist to gain more details on her thoughts of her art as well as how she wants to make a difference with her work.
Clayt: Where are you from and what is your current occupation?
Nailah: Born and raised in southside Richmond, Virginia then moved to Los Angeles, California less than a year ago. I currently work at Corner Pocket,a pool hall/game room on campus + as a seasonal employee at Williams-Sonoma.
Clayt: How did you begin painting? When did it become more than a hobby for you?
Nailah: I started painting when I was really young, probably around 5 or 6 years old. My brother used to sketch all the time and I would find myself in his materials when I wasn’t supposed to, so my parents decided to get me some of my own. It started off small, just as a way to play and be creative as a child, and it slowly became something i was known for. As a little kid, I always gave homemade cards or pictures as gifts because I was too young to actually buy gifts, and my parents always made me feel like a superstar for my drawings even though I look back at them now and know they were horrible lol. I’m not even sure when I considered it a hobby, but I know in elementary school I always found myself in an art class every year or putting my work into after school art shows, and it just became something I couldn’t live without.
Clayt: What would you say is the best thing about being an artist?
Nailah: The best thing about being an artist is the journey art takes you on. For me, art has never been a job or a way to make money. It just soothed me in times where people were only distractions and I needed something more concrete. I’ve always been very eccentric and slightly weird, and being able to take those thoughts and turn them into whatever I feel like, whether it’s creating a self-portrait but painting my face blue, or distorting someone’s body just because.
Clayt: How has it benefited you?
Nailah: Being an artist has truly benefited my mental and emotional state, it keeps me grounded and in tune with my thoughts and helps me relax and de-stress. It’s my own little form of therapy. Just recently, I started selling my art, which is still such a different world for me because I never thought of my art as something lucrative in that aspect. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I get a new order on my website, and I always feel like a ‘thank you’ is never enough because getting monetary rewards for my art seems like something that only happens for an artist once they’re dead and gone, but I never expected for people to love my art enough to put it in their homes and support me beyond what I even expected. But it has helped broaden my eyes to more career paths and also helped me learn about being a successful businesswoman and balance school and my job with my own personal goals.
Clayt: Where do you see your art taking you?
Nailah: I see myself living out my artistic goals beach side in Santa Monica, practicing as an Art Therapist. I chose California because since I moved there, I have felt more at peace in my career goals. The carefree aspect of the area makes me feel like i was meant to be there, spending my Sunday afternoons on the balcony or in my own personal studio (one day) painting in my sweats, with the warm breeze blowing on me. That’s the ultimate fantasy for me.
Clayt: What are your career goals?
Nailah: I want to work with children with special needs or children who have experienced a traumatic situation who find it very difficult to voice their emotions. Many times, children who have been affected traumatically do not want to talk about what is bothering them, especially not with a stranger asking them, “Well how does that make you feel?” These children want to be comfortable, and not feel like they’re being analyzed like a social experiment. Art has always been my outlet for my problems and I have always stressed the importance of mental health in a person, and I want to combine artistic techniques with psychoanalytic therapy in a way that makes children open up and grow without feeling stifled by the unfortunate things that have occurred in their lives.
Clayt: What is the most difficult thing about being an artist?
Nailah: I believe the biggest struggle for an artist, especially once your art starts to become recognized, is staying true to yourself and the artistic style you have. Many times when someone sees an artists’ work, they only see the final product. They see that it is ‘pretty’ or ‘inventive’, and they like it. For us, it is always so much more than just how aesthetically pleasing our art is. It’s the fact that I planned on creating something but ended up with a completely different idea as the finished product. Or how it took you almost 5 weeks to feel inspiration to pull out your paints again and you’re just happy with yourself for actually finishing a piece completely and not giving up on it. It’s about the tears that fall when you tried so hard to get a crisp outline on a silhouette and STILL, your handshakes and it comes out uneven. It’s the fact that there is much more to an artist than just what they create, it’s how they come up with their creations, the process that it takes to take your ideas from start to finish, and the gratification of knowing that there’s something out there that you’re good at and you don’t need a degree or a million exams to tell you that you’re good at what you love to do. It’s something that nobody can take from you, and even when you begin to sell your work and no one else feels like your art is worth more than a retweet or a ‘Yo, that’s dope’, you know that you will never sell yourself short or compare yourself to others because you know how much work you put into it, and at the end of the day, this is yours and you should always be proud of what you do.
Clayt: How important is it to be a part of a community that encourages and supports the arts?
Nailah: I feel like the community that an artist surrounds themselves in is very important when cultivating your craft. Having a community that encourages the arts is vital not only for your goals, but for future generations. Being able to see your community value the importance that art has on people is everything, it makes you feel like you’re a part of something great, and that progression is all around you. Seeing art on every corner or wall as you walk down the street makes you feel at home, and I feel like our culture is so unique that we could do so much to create an art community where it is less about money and status, but about creating something that touches people in their hearts, and where you can feel the community in the art itself. I just want to be in an environment where everyone has a chance to win and succeed, and it’s all about supporting one another.
For more information on Nailah and her work visit, www.artxmuse.com.