Detroit artist Onzie Norman is appreciative for the ability to show off his talents.
On May 29, Norman will take part in the Detroit Diaspora Day Party Is King at The Irwin House from noon to 10 p.m. Recently, he sat with rolling out to talk about his career and the event.
What are you looking forward to doing specifically at the Diaspora Day Party?
Anytime I can collaborate with someone like Drake Phifer, it’s always a good thing. I’m a music lover for one, I love house music, which is called electronic dance music. I’m a music fan, so I have some musical pieces in my body of work, and I’m looking forward to some of the great music that’ll be played.
How was it as an artist coming up in Detroit?
We were surrounded by talent, like everybody had a set of skills. I mean, we had painters and people to dance and flip, I was around rappers, I mean just a little bit of everybody, so I was influenced by my surroundings. Even at school, I was surrounded by geniuses. Even though it wasn’t like it was before, it wasn’t like the premier like Cass Tech or anything like that, but it still was full of artistic people. … We have a long legacy from Motown and everything else. It was just like any other place, [there were] just influences everywhere.
When you see natives like Sheefy McFly paint an entire skate park in the city, how beautiful is that for you to see that happening in your hometown?
It’s wonderful. I do a little traveling where I see places like Miami, places in Georgia, where there [are] art towns and stuff like that. To see Detroit on the rise artistically and being an artist, knowing so many great artists, so much talent here that is unreal. I’m just excited every time I see some colors, it definitely makes me happy. I’m excited about what the future holds for the city.
What’s your favorite of Detroit culture?
I know it’s my favorite part because I miss it. I miss getting together with the whole city and Belle Isle back in the day. We would just go for no reason, when we didn’t need a reason we’d just say, “Hey. let’s go get the car and go to the island.” People would just be everywhere playing all kinds of music, fellowship and then I miss those moments. I will say gathering on Belle Isle, definitely my favorite.
Why do you think it’s important to be a student of your craft?
It’s going to make you a better artist. You’re going to learn more, you’re going to get more creative and you’re surrounded by inspiration. Plus, when you do the business side of art, you understand you can be able to sell a body of work.