LACE SPOTLIGHT is our magazine's way our celebrating particularly influential artists and creators that are using their skills and passions to create pieces that positively affect the art community and our culture.
Full name and accepted pronouns:
Razia O’Bryant (she/her)
Georgia State University, Marketing.
What other art forms are you passionate about if any? What do you think is the most important art form?
I’m pretty much passionate about every form of visual arts. However, I can also appreciate other art forms such as music and dance. All art forms are important because we need that expression and human connection no matter the packaging. However, I would say that film is one of the most important. For a film to be good, it has to bring together all the art forms in a harmonious way; great music, great movement, great pictures. I hope to get into film one day.
When did your interest in art begin?
As far as I can remember I was around six years old. I remember going on a family trip to Orlando, Florida and all of my family members getting a caricature drawn of them. I would spend hours in my room trying to copy all of the drawings. My interest in art never really stopped but I would say it died down a bit as the years went on. My senior year in high school I decided to take it more serious and pursue it professionally.
What are your other artistic hobbies/ forms of involvement?
I spend most of my time with painting and graphic design because it’s the bulk of my commissioned work. I have also dabbled in photography and sculpting. Sculpting is something you’ll probably see more of from me in the future. I’ve always liked the idea of bringing my art to life.
Artistic inspirations (any medium)?
Darius Moreno is my absolute favorite painter. The way he captures emotion and blackness is insane. I also love Ernie Barnes, Jonathan Green, Kehinde Wiley, George Condo, and Peter Saul to name a few. I appreciate KAWS and what he did for street-art culture. As far as film and just creating worlds, Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton are legends. I love how their styles are instantly recognizable. Hype Williams is another filmmaker that makes gorgeous work. Of course Spike Lee, for his relentless dedication to depicting the Black experience. Carl Jones and Bruce W. Smith are undefeated as far as animation goes. These people are legends who I hope to be in the same conversation with one day.
How does your artistic process for making a piece look?
I usually start on paper. I’ll do a sketch just to get the idea out. Sometimes it’ll be a complete idea, other times it may just be a shape or words. Either way, I spend time with the sketch and it’ll develop itself into a full concept. After I know exactly what I want to do, I go to Photoshop or Procreate and do a rough draft. This is where I do the full composition and add color. A lot of times I’ll see what works and what doesn’t during this step. Lastly, I’ll do a rough line drawing on canvas and do the final painting. The painting step often times involves more trial and error than expected. Colors come out different, things work together differently. It’s important to allow yourself that flexibility and not be married to your original idea.
How has your environment affected your art?
I grew up in South Carolina. Although I’m from Columbia, I spent a lot of time in Charleston. If you’ve ever been to the low country, you know how simply beautiful it is. You feel an inherent connection with your ancestors and it makes you appreciate your strength as an African American. I knew I wanted my art to be an homage to the Black experience. Authenticity is something I always try to honor. I don’t believe in respectability politics or dulling ourselves to make others feel comfortable. My grandmother had a piece entitled “Roots and Wings”. I’ve always taken that idea with me. My environment has given me roots to keep me grounded, and wings to help me extend past it.
What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
I hope my art gives people permission to be themselves. I remember presenting a watered down version of myself so that I wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention. I soon realized how much of a disservice that was to myself and others. Sometimes my art can be really in your face, and unapologetically so. It’s bold and audacious. Most importantly, its multidimensional. I don’t portray one type of person in my work. And yet, it all seems familiar. Eventually, I hope to make an entire world out of my work; film, toys, amusement parks, and anything else tangible.
What impact do you think art has in today's global climate?
Art is so important because it can be accessible by anyone. It is the great equalizer. Gatekeepers try to make it a luxury only afforded to the rich; but the truth is, once you put it out there, it can no longer be owned. Art is a way for people to relate. In this global climate specifically, we have to start focusing on what we have in common as opposed to our differences. Relation makes it easier to show compassion, and compassion is the only way we can truly heal.
What do you dislike about the art community and what would you like to change about it?
Like I said, Gatekeepers make art everything except its intended purpose. I had a meeting with some people in the industry and they were telling me all the reasons why my art couldn’t be in galleries and why it wouldn’t be received by people. The whole time I was thinking to myself, “The reasons you cited as to why I cant, is exactly why I can. It’s exactly the reason people connect to it”. But, I understand that there is a generational difference. You used to need a middle man to get your art out there. Now you can directly reach the people who connect with your work. There are no rules or limitations.
Favorite personal projects?
My most well received pieces are my Sunlight/Moonlight paintings. They will always hold a special place in my heart because they solidified my personal style. However, my favorite piece is always my most recent. Every project I do reveals something about myself and I always know more after it than before. Right now, it’s the piece I did speaking to gun control. I don't think people fully get it yet but it’s a piece I believe will age well.
Advice to other artists?
Study other great artists: It’s not about copying, it’s about exposing yourself to different points of view. Art reveals so much about ourselves and our place in the world. The more you know, the more you can reference. It’s also important from a technical standpoint. You need to know what good, technically sound art looks like.
Experiment with different mediums: A lot of times different mediums will spark something that pen and paper would’ve never revealed. Also, it just feels good to switch it up. You may fall in love with a medium you never considered.
Stay true to your style: While it’s important to try new things, I’ve noticed all the artists I respect have some element in their work that makes them recognizable. Your style sets you apart. Finding your style takes time, I’m still developing mine. But when you do solidify it, it will be invaluable to your career.