Interview by Lisa K. Salerno
Interview with Nigerian artist Dani Yisrael Reid.
Q: Can you tell me a little about your media and process for creating these works?
A: Yes, sure thing, most of my artworks, or paintings, are digital. I wouldn’t really say I manipulate them then add paint with most of my recent paintings. With the Rihanna painting, I sort of took a figure drawing approach. I penned out the outlines first, then created a couple of layers underneath to accommodate the paints. I’m kind of really big on painting, so I really just wanted to replicate every possible detail, tangents, contours, lighting, colour tone and shade variations. I really wanted to capture and accentuate every possible essence of the scene while trying to put a lot of focus on the subject Rihanna.
Rihanna – this was actually an extract from Coldplay’s Princess Of China Ft Rihanna music video, I loved the blend of the Chinese Opera theatrics, and I really loved how the lighting effect sort of played off on her fabric — giving off a sort of wet glossy texture. I just really wanted to see if I could recreate that. It’s digital art media with an oil painting on a acrylic paper approach.
The Ahmari Lia painting was also a figure drawing approach–I had to draw up the outlines first then add up some colour layers underneath; with this it was sort of a discovery for me if you look closely with the fruits you can see there’s a mix of two different brush presets. I used an oil paint and water colour brush presets and it gave off a sort of wet glossy look and it did help me work a photogenic look into the Rihanna painting.
Ahmari Lia – She’s a musical act I do publicity for in regards to music (She’s on a break now though.) She’s also an aspiring actress and dancer from Tampa, Florida. Basically, I just wanted to do a painting of her for a start. But while working on the painting, I sort of got more inspired about the aesthetic formation and the build up pf natural environment ~ I kind of want to interpret that as a close to social cause encouraging organic food, natural skincare and to a little extent, healthy natural hair growth. It’s digital art media, a mix of oil painting and water color presets.
With the Tuface Idibia painting, I also used a figure drawing approach, drew up the outlines first then created a few layers below to accommodate the different shade tones of white and black.
Tuface Idibia – He’s a celebrated (legendary) Nigerian singer, but I was more drawn to this because of the photographic composure. I wanted to do sort of a light study so I recreated it into a painting. It’s a digital media.
The Yisrael and Artifact painting, um…well, to some extent you could say there was a bit of photo shop manipulation; they are both mixed media, a blend of photography and paint–Yisrael is actually a selfie photo I took trying out light study. I just smudged out the edges of the mirror outwards towards the edges of the entire picture, painted over it with some black, then just went all imaginative, drawing with the falling comets and planetary orb.
Yisrael – With great powers comes great responsibility, well in this case it was more of out of boredom comes creativity. This is a mixed media art, its a build up from a camera to mirror selfie with a torch light over the head light study photography with the edges smudged out and pretty much just freestyled the cosmic effect into the background.
And with Artifact it was sort of an experiment. I was actually trying out an aperture study on a picture of dirty dishes I took earlier. Then I tried out some art presets to get a cartoonized pastel look, played around with a couple of colours on the surface with an oil paint brush and added up a sepia hue to give it sort of an 80’s look, hence the name.
Q: Of all the mediums that you work with, do you have a favorite medium and why?
A: In all honesty, I love all mediums from lead to graphite to charcoal to acrylic to water colour to oil painting. But where I’m from its hard to see quality art supply stores with Faber Castell pencils, prismacolour pencils or good canvas; plus I’m having problems with getting studio space at home–thank God for app stores, these days you can just go to Google Play store or Apple store and download any app. I’m more of a visual being so at some point using 4Bs, 5Bs and 2Bs pencils became too monochrome for me, hence my new found love for digital art.
Q: What inspires you as an artist?
A: My art inspirations are pretty much drawn from everything, it could be simply a picture’s aperture or vignette composition, nature, culture, fashion or lifestyles–I literally use to have this Pinterest binge where I would scroll through swimwear collections, hair styles (curlyfro), nature photography, street photography and get a couple of sketch practice ideas or abstract art inspirations to work around with.
Tony Parker – this was really a one off random moment turn into an AH HA moment for me, It’s an up shoot of the backdrop painting. I already had this graphic screen saver like abstract art, and I remembered I had a picture of Tony Parker wearing a Spur jersey, and I just opened up a new layer and reproduced his picture to blend into the background. It’s a digital art media.
Q: In your bio you mentioned that 2014 was a fresh start for you when you found your way back to art…Was there a particular moment or event that sparked this transition?
A: Um, I use to have this friend Ashley (I kind of miss her, we lost touch.) she’s an MUA, a make-up artist and we sort of did some photo networking together. We did a couple of photoshoots of some of her works (commercial photography) including a bridal make-up photography gig with my phone and in the process of editing them I stumbled across some artistic presets.
I started playing around with them–it was fun at first, but later it began to feel too easy and the same with all the pictures. I was beginning to develop an adrenaline for something challenging. So I kind of kicked back into some pencil to paper figurative-gesture drawings, then later trying out portraits and more gesture drawings. Then again I was quickly getting bored with the constant pencil leads (sometimes graphite or charcoal) outlines and shades, so I went into digital art.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Oh tough one; um art is life and life is art. The quest after perfection shouldn’t define your art but it should be your goal–when you hit a creative block take a break, take a time out, get a fresh perspective and get back to it. Sometimes a little outline, tangent or tone shade gets you closer to perfection. Above all fall in love with your art and see your best yet unveil on the canvas.
To learn more or follow the work of Dani Yisrael Reid go to his websites below.
Lisa K. Salerno is an Art Writer with the London-based publication Niji Magazine, and Art Editor and a regular Art Columnist at Inigo Online. Her art and writing has also been featured in the Autism Speaks website, the Artful Vagabond, The Connecticut River Review and in several other online and print publications.