I kept wanting to push my image as validity; I wanted to see my portrait on a wall and know it was okay.
I’m really interested in independent publishers and memes and mini comics. But even before that, I was interested in Japanese manga and anime.
When I was in school, I conceptually didn’t want black people to have context, to take it out of all that history. I wanted nothing to indicate where they are or what time it is, to place them anywhere.
It’s kind of a language I’ve developed over time that’s basically breaking up the face into components and planes. Inside each plane, I draw gradation marks, and when planes come together, they form sinews, a hairlike weave that’s like a landscape of the face.
The social media bit is really about documenting process. I like the dialogue if it’s constructive, but I’m now at a crossroads. I’ve accumulated a lot of followers, and it’s great, but I’m also at that teetering point where people are feeling themselves a little too much, commenting a little too much.
The graphic style itself is influenced by a lot of very layered and detailed comics that I read as a kid, like ‘Vagabond’ by Takehiko Inoue.
My identity is not based on performance; it’s based on something that’s pre-determined by someone else, and I don’t even understand what that is because I’m an African who came to America.
I moved around a lot when I was a child; two of the houses I grew up in have totally disappeared. One was burnt in a riot, and the other was pulled down.
For a while, I was nervous about portraying women because of the objectification that automatically comes with it, whether the artist intends or not.
Being a black artist, the first thing people want to talk about is your blackness, the importance of your blackness, and your black presence.
I don’t think about race before I start drawing. I think about how to make that mark to fit whatever purpose I need it to fulfill.