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Real Art: Devon

This interview is entitled “Real Art” because portraits are something that most people identify as art, they see it and know what it is, they stop thinking. But the artist doesn’t. The artist is thinking about composition, where the light is coming from and they are also dealing with their own personal problems. Here we meet Devon an artist who has taken “Real Art” and made it his own all while following the rules, but showcasing what he sees. 

What makes you create?

My dad was a creative; he made his living as a tattoo artist. I can vaguely remember being in the tattoo shop around him as a young child. He left my life around the age of 4 or 5 so I don't remember much, but whenever I smell green soap (a surgical soap that tattoo artists use) my brain automatically thinks of my father, and remember that distinct smell in the shop. Perhaps watching him draw and tattoo influenced some part of my brain in those developmental years where we experience a desire to copy the adults around us. 

Creating has been all I've known, really. I feel like the same kid I was when I was 5, with an intense desire to reach for pencil and draw. The only tools I needed was a pencil and a paper. It's also the only thing that people sort of gave me props for. I was always known as the best artist in the class since I was at P.S.30. I remember since first grade, I would fill up my composition notebooks with drawings on every blank space that I'd see. My friend Jarrett often reminds me that back then he'd watch me draw gangsters with fitted caps to the back, du-rags, and holding guns. Even then, I drew what I saw and knew. My teachers would tell my mother that I had to keep my notebooks neat and my mother would even hit me for it. She'd get me a new notebook and I would resist doodling for a little while, but then I'd give in and just take the beating. It was worth it. 

Before I had transferred to the High School Art & Design I had attended Samuel Gompers High School, probably the roughest public High School in the South Bronx. Even then, I naturally gravitated to the graffiti kids. A lot of our time was spent tagging black books or hitting walls after school. 

This is all to say that before I thought of making a living with creating art; I feel my mind was already inclined towards visual communication. I don't really choose to create, my mind and hands naturally want to make something beautiful. 

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Malik Fequiere