Fresh-Men Feature: Photographer & Graphic Artist, Marvin
What advice do you have for artist trying to find their own personal art style?
Don’t be afraid to experiment and test your boundaries. I encourage people to step away from the things that you are familiar with every now and then. It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in our normal routines/comfort zones but sometimes you have to expand your vision a bit. Start to take notice of the small details that you usually ignore. Finding your personal style won’t necessarily come to you in one “big bang”, it’s usually a process. Embrace yourself, embrace ALL the things that evoke emotions and feelings then try to channel that into your art. Don’t worry about who will like it or who won’t or whether or not you think it’s “good enough”. The first step is to TRY and you have to keep trying until it feels right. Your personal style is for YOU and no one else. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Be confident with your decisions and your processes.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
Inspiration will hit me from anywhere at any given moment. I’ve found inspiration in the smallest things, sometimes all I have to do is scan my environment for a bit and pinpoint a few things that speak to me. I could be driving home late at night listening to something new and my imagination will kick in and the gears will start turning. I’ve also noticed that I get a lot of inspiration when I feel like my creativity is being stifled. I used to work an office job down by wall street and I worked with some genuine people but the overall experience was mentally draining. My day to day tasks were very repetitive and the commute was so long but whenever I left work and hopped on that J train, I’d put my headphones on, close my eyes and allow the visions to come to me. But whenever I find inspiration, I ask myself “what does this mean to me?”.
Why do you do what you do?
I do what I do because for most of my life I was told what I should be doing or what was the best thing to do and I usually complied because I thought I was receiving the best advice. It took me some time to realize it but going down someone else's route was keeping me from my own peace. I do what I do because I found the courage to believe in myself and goodness followed soon after. I do what I do because it’s essential to my well being.
When was the moment you first discovered your passion?
Throughout high school I would dabble in different artistic mediums like graphic design and music but I wasn’t able to fully embrace the things I liked because of constant internal conflicts of what I want to do and what I “should” be doing. I never really got a chance to explore myself and who I really wanted to be until I was about 17-18 years old. My friend bought a DSLR camera and he let me use it for a little bit, I instantly fell in love. From that moment I began to save money for my own camera and it felt really good to pursue something that I liked. My thirst for art became insatiable after that. Photography led to video shoots and editing, video led to more graphic design, design led to embroidery. All of these things brought me joy and made me realize my affinity for creativity in general.
How do you manage to balance your day job with pursuing you passion?
I usually find balance by setting my intent on a day to day basis. More often than not, I put my day job on the back burner in pursuit of my passion. I’ve spent many sleepless nights editing or shooting followed by me heading off to an 9 o’clock work shift. Although that can be taxing at times, the results don’t usually disappoint because I already have what I want set in mind and I just have to believe that I will be rewarded for my hard work. YOU HAVE TO WANT IT.
What is your self care routine?
My self care routine consists of a lot of water, some yoga, some essential oils, showering for extended periods of time, meditation, staring at sunsets and surrounding myself with people who care for my well being. The way I see it, self care is just making sure that my spirit is at peace by whatever means suits my mood for the day.
Why do you think there is such a stigma behind black men expressing their emotions creatively? How do you combat that through your work?
There are so many layers to this question and so many contributing factors. For most of us, hyper masculinity has been fed to us for a majority of our lives. “Man up” “Boys don't cry, they're strong”, these are the things we are told growing up and when it comes time to express ourselves freely & show any type of vulnerability we are stuck wondering “is this too girly?” “Is it too soft?” “What if the guys laugh at me?”. But the only reason that these ideals are passed down to us are because they have been passed down for generations.
It takes a long time for some to realize that the things that define us as men aren't all macho and that it does take a little tenderness to be an emotionally & spirituality healthy man. I relieve myself of any type of inhibition when I'm working on anything. Whether it be painting, music, photography, it doesn't matter. When I believe in what I'm doing, I'm not thinking about what people will perceive it as. That is the point of art, to take yourself on a journey that you've never explored before. Free from judgement & worry. But nowadays I've noticed a lot of men refusing to let their masculinity be policed by the so called norms, I absolutely love it. Some of us still have some work to do, but it's not a 1-2-3 process for everyone.
Otis Redding said it best “try a little tenderness”, you'll be surprised by what you're capable of when you do!