In anticipation of tomorrow's release, we sat down with Mwanel to talk to him about his artistic process, his days at art school, his release with us and much more:
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in New York, New York and I’m residing in Miami, Florida.
What are your first artistic memories?
I remember watching Bob Ross on PBS and mimicking his paintings while while watching his program. I was about 4 years old when that was happening. Had crayons and markers with the butcher paper on the wooden floors. Happy Trees is still in my mind til this day.
Could you tell us about your time at New World School of the Arts' high school program and Art Center College of Design?
Well, New World (2001-2005) were the golden years for me in high school. I really developed as an visual artist to understand the functionality of being an artist. It pushed me as an individual in the process and warned me about real life. Got the experience of learning from others and growing through the process as an adolescent artist.
Then when I got to Art Center (2005-2009), I went in for a Illustration major and minored in Illustration Design. But those years were about finding what it takes to be a professional on my own with other peers and great instructors. I developed a style, taking Illustration and Fine Art courses in the later years. Over those years in Pasadena, it landed me in Editorial work while in school. The conversations that are occurring now did derive from smaller ideas that I organically made from other classes at Art Center. So I’m still exploring and excited to push more content.
Your work combines fashion, culture, personal themes and more. How did you arrive at the blending of abstraction and realism to explore these themes in your work?
As I said, it took time. My style as a human come for personal preference in the street wear, anime, art culture. I believe with I bring to the table is different, but I also think the times relate with everyone. I wanted to combine the abstract and realism together to make the conversation of the stories I lived really flourish in its presence. It talks complexity and beauty at the same time. I really started this 2 years ago when I was on a job in Paris. I had to live my present in able to make the work. At this, the work is still evolving on its own as each piece is a process.
Could you tell us a bit about your release with us this week, "Inner Being?"
"Inner Being," it’s very simple to me. We as people always show our outer shell to others. But when we live on our own, we only show our true colors. So this piece, it’s telling us that we can always break out to be our true selves, even if we’re in a crowd of people. The inner beauty or inner being is shown in red and magenta to express the mood or aura. The surface is a protective space that can also be opened.
What is a normal day like in the studio for you?
A normal day for me these day and pretty much wake up to my space, stare at the painting for a few minutes, maybe 30 minutes. Then get my day going with by not touching my painting or drawing, but looking through the internet or walking around outside, maybe even exercising. That’s helpful for me to clear my mind. But when I do start, I set up a my acrylic palette, water bucket, brushes and go to town. Once I’m painting, I really zone out with the headphones on ears. The sessions can go up to 7 to 8 hours if I’m really feeling it that day. That’s my normal day in the studio.
What is the most difficult part of creating?
Not creating or not being inspired from time to time. It gets lonely when you’re tapped into vision and creating process most of the day.
What is the strangest thing you've found inspiration from?
I’ve been watching tons of Marvel movies, catching up on the timeline to connect myself. “Doctor Strange” was an interesting movie for the inspiration I have in some of my pieces. The scene of where “Strange “ ends up travels through the vortex and you see his body morph and distort. That might be my strangest thing that subconsciously made the work more interesting for me.
What can we look forward to from you in the coming months?
I’m just working on new paintings and drawing for upcoming shows. I have projects to do with my corporate endeavors. As well, I’m starting to work on my solo show for Thinkspace Gallery that’s happening in November 2019. But for me, it’s humbling to have something to do always.
"Inner Being" is a 12" x 12" edition of 30 copies and will be available in our shop at 1PM PST, Thursday, August 30th.