Tattoo and mixed media artist Jason Phillips will be celebrating artists of color while engaging the community with the art scene during the fourth annual Black Tattoo Art & Music Expo in Detroit on July 13 and 14.
Phillips’ first solo art exhibition debuted in 1998. His most recent exhibit, “Majesty” featured paintings representing the beauty and perseverance of African American women. One significant addition to Phillips’ paintings is gold. He implements 23-karat gold in his artwork and large paintings. “It’s a precious metal. [Gold] gives off a warm color. Everything I do will have some type of element of gold inside of it,” Phillips stated.
What led you on this career path as a fine artist?
As an artist, I believe the majority of artists are born artists. As I grew up I developed more of a passion for creating. I knew at an early age [that] whatever [job] I did as an adult it would have to do with designing and creating. My parents kept me in artistic activities to nurture my talent.
What led you to focus on the strength of African American women?
As an African American, I like to create artwork that documents our people, our culture and records our history. The most important thing about art is you can go to a museum and look at a piece that we’ve done in the 1800s and it zaps you back in time where you can see the clothing, lifestyle, and culture of that era. I wanted to create a form of beauty that represents and honors our women of color without making it sexual. I wanted to embrace the culture and it was also inspired by the Afropunk movement.
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
Be a master of your craft. You have to develop your style and be a master of it. Also, don’t give up, keep moving and keep doing [art] for exposure.
Tell us about the importance of the annual Black Tattoo Art & Music Expo?
The root of it is promoting African American artists. The art curriculum is being pulled out of the public school systems at an alarming rate. We are in dire need to create a platform, classes and [activities] to call awareness to the art scene and to introduce children and young adults to the arts. We wanted to create a platform where we can expose urban communities to artwork and also use the artwork as a building stone to build better communities. We [also] highlight up-and-coming musicians. As far as the tattoo world, you don’t see too many African American tattoo artists. We can pull all these national artists in one setting where they can get exposure. We recently [received] our 501c3, so we are a nonprofit and we are [seeking] sponsorship.
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