A Drawing and a Dream

What is caricature drawing for you? Is that your main focus in art?

It wasn’t initially my main focus. So, originally, I was just drawing for fun. My older brother, who’s deceased now, he used to enter art contests and took a lot of art classes. And he kinda gave me some lessons on how to draw. And, for the most part, I never actually listened. I’d be like I’m not doing that blah, blah, blah. And he’d go off, win an art contest, and then I’d come up, try to submit some stuff, and they’d be like, yours is shit. So anyway, I was decent at art, but I wasn’t super, super great. But, it started when I started working at Busch Gardens, which was in 2012. Like January and February, somewhere around there.

I’d gotten a role in a TV show in South Carolina called Changes. It was like a romantic comedy, and I hated it. Like I hated it with a passion. And I thought that the cast sucked, and I didn’t like the script, and a bunch of other stuff. So I quit and I ended up on the fly moving to Georgia and I moved in with a celebrity trainer and basically trained a bunch of clients and would work at the Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals place and a bunch of other stuff, and randomly moved back to Virginia. To explain how I moved back is just … it’s too many details.

So, I come back here and the first week that I get back, like the very first week, I meet up with a friend at William and Mary speaking of, and we go to the gym there, and I had a shoulder injury previously, but I thought I was okay. Go there and dislocate my shoulder at the gym. And immediately, I was like, shit. So, I needed … I couldn’t drive, so it wasn’t like I could go back to Georgia. After a couple of months after being in a sling and stuff, I was like, I need money, so … and I had a check coming in for acting, and the checks don’t come in for three months. So all the money I had coming in, it was not going to help me right now. So, I started looking for jobs and I looked in the paper and saw Busch Gardens hiring. They were like, submit your artwork. You could be an artist. We’re looking for portraits, caricatures, blah blah blah. And I was like, I’m submitting for caricatures. So I submit. They like my artwork. They call me in for an interview. I go, get hired, set point. And from there I’ve been doing caricatures from basically 2012 until now. Stayed at Busch Gardens for a few years. Ditched it because I wanted to make more money. And been going solo. So, yeah. Caricatures is my primary focus. Caricatures and illustrations. Like I do illustration on the side.

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What is the best and worst part of your work life?

The best part is, is that I have a lot of free time. I can work when I want because I’m basically working as my own boss right now. And I’m travelings a lot, so I get to explore the world, meet a lot of new people, and connect with a lot of people. I made a trip to Tennessee recently and I stayed there for a month. And I felt like it’s the most free I’ve ever felt in my life, despite the fact that I almost got robbed by somebody at gunpoint. But, other than that, it was great. So I’d say that’d be the best part right now.

The worst part would probably be that sometimes it can be really slow. For example, Halloween time was super, super slow. It was ridiculously slow. Like I got called in to do an event at Chick-fil-A and I show up at Chick-fil-A and they promoted it, and nobody wanted a picture until I told them it was free. And then all of a sudden I was getting twenty dollar tips, and before that, it was like ten dollars. It’s still less than Busch Gardens and nobody wanted one. So, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes it’s really, really good, and other times it’s not so great. So the process of building it so I have some sort of residual income while doing this and, like, passing incomes, that’s the work. That’s where it’s hard.
Right now I’m actually trying to set up an online course for intro to caricature or something so that way I can have something else coming in. But, it takes time.

 

You mentioned that you felt free in Tennessee. Where or when do you feel most at peace with yourself or most like yourself?

When … I know this sounds cliché. I’d probably say when I feel like I’m most free and most at peace with myself when I am not being tied down to a certain regimen and schedule. Like, I kinda feel as if there is a societal view where if you don’t do things a certain cookie-cutter way, which is to follow the American dream, that you can’t have success. And I’ m not saying it doesn’t work, but what I’m saying is that that doesn’t apply to everybody. I mean, if everybody followed that exact path then we wouldn’t have any sort of major entrepreneurs that exploited their businesses.

I know for me, it’s not like I’m just that I’m chasing after money or anything, but I feel like there’s a level of freedom in just taking the chance and doing something. And for me, when I went out to Tennessee, I went out on the fly. Like I didn’t even plan it. I think I was managing a gym at the time in Leesburg. And I quit the job and the very next day I just packed up my bags, left half my stuff there, and just drove out to Tennessee. And I bought a tent and slept in the tent for the first three days. And within a week I got a place at the Grand Opry.

 

Is that something that you do often? Have you made a lot of trips like that?

I’ve done it a couple of times. Like when I took the role with the TV show, this was another surprise. I was on Facebook one time and I was doing some commercial work. I was trying to get a TV role. So I go and I looked up some movie producers and I start adding people on Facebook. And, I mean, not everybody’s gonna add you. Some of these people were like, who the hell is this? But, every now and then some people actually accept and it’s actually a real person. I was talking to this one producer and I just, like, messaged her every day. And I didn’t care how she took it, I was just like, I’m going to spam this lady until she gets tired of me spamming her and either deletes me or puts me in a movie. And that’s exactly what happened. So as soon as she said she wanted me for a role, I quit my job, packed up, and moved to South Carolina. And as soon as I realized I didn’t like the role, I packed up and left again.

Who makes up your main support in life?

I’d say I have some close friends that I can call on. For example, Josh. I can talk to him sometimes. Occasionally my brothers. Sometimes my mom, parents. I’d say more so friends, I don’t really talk to my parents about everything. I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t talk to anybody. For example, when I went out to Tennessee, I did not consult a single person. I turned my phone off, actually. The only reason I had my phone on was for GPS. Anybody who called me, I ignored the call. I didn’t tell them what I was doing.

So, I have a support system of friends. And for the most part, they’re pretty encouraging. Sometimes. And I’d say that’s about it. People that I know really well that I hang out with.

 

So when you are by yourself, where are you in your head?

I feel like there’s this point when you have a certain vision in your head, you have to block out all the noise. So there’s this level where you focus and just shoot for the goal. And if you take in too many distractions it could start to bring too many voices in your head where you start to doubt yourself. And I personally feel like if you allow certain voice to come in, even if they are friends where they start to speak certain things, for you to even begin to doubt yourself, you can fail. And I had it in my mind that when I went to Tennessee I was going to make money. And I didn’t care how it was going to happen. And that’s basically what happened.

 

When have you doubted your ability?

I have a perfect example for that. Alright, so one time … I brought up the acting right? I got asked … I flew out to LA to meet with this guy —  I’m not going to mention his name — but he was a Universal Studios casting director. And they heard how I have a gymnastics background. And I did some coaching for a while in boot camp at .. And they wanted to talk to me about a role for Bring it On. And I’m not a cheerleader. And I don’t dance. So, it’s like they had this idea of me in their head. And then when I go out there, I was like, what the fuck, I can’t do this. So I doubted myself there. And I will not deny that I doubted myself. In fact, I’d still doubt myself if I went back in that situation because I know that I can’t dance.

 

So the doubt is more you knowing, or being sure of your inability.

Yeah. In fact, I believe that even if they tried to teach me, I’d still suck.

 

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So you have a pretty good mindset about what you are able to do and that’s really cool.

As you can tell, I was never in the movie, so … *laughing*

 

You mentioned your brother’s passing, which you don’t have to get into if you don’t want to, but how was life for you after that?

I would say I was trying to cope, but I didn’t technically take it well. So, when my brother died … we were really, really close. And I know this may sound really strange, but I had a dream that somebody got shot on the street I grew up on in Hampton as a kid. And I had that dream two days before he died. And I didn’t think much of it. I mean, it kinda freaked me out, but he called me three times the day before he died and I didn’t answer the phone because I was saying to myself, like, I can call him back, it’s not big deal. And, I mean, I was free, but I was procrastinating and putting it off. And then the day he died, he got shot. And it was in Williamsburg. And, I mean, I took it hard ‘cause I kinda felt guilty that I ignored his calls. And I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it. When I did talk to people about it, I was pretty bitter about it for a while. Especially about how it went down. So, it took a while to get over.

 

He seems like he was a big influence on your life. And I’m sure if he was able to look down right now, he’d be amazingly proud of you.

 

So where are you at right now in your life? Like, being back here.

Ideally, I don’t want to be back here. But, I’m fine. I’m pretty content. I don’t want to run form any problems I have. Like, for example, I got shoulder surgery and ankle surgery and I feel like if I run around too much and take too many gigs outside of Williamsburg, then I wouldn’t have time to actually rehab the injuries. So I want to actually kinda focus on one central location especially because I got my surgery in Williamsburg and I have follow-up appointments and so forth. It’s just more convenient to be here. The other thing is, is that my parents are in town and we get along, but ideally, I don’t want to be this close to my parents. Like, I want my freedom. So, in that aspect, it’s like, I’m sucking it up. It’s not like this my grand plan.

As soon as I get all healed up, my plan is to launch a course and do some illustrating, take some more gigs out of town, and travel more.

 

Is that in order of rank?

Yes.

 

What do you want to get out of sharing your ability with others and traveling?

Make people smile. And I also get to talk to a lot of people. So, for example, when I’m not actually drawing there’s a lot of off time. So during this off time, make new friends.

 

One question I like to ask everyone is if you could give one piece of advice, to anybody, what would it be?

I’d say the same thing I said for a magazine interview. I would say that if there is a certain goal that you have and a certain passion that you know you have, then basically run after it and don’t give up. Because if you don’t give up, I’m pretty positive you can reach that goal.

 

And that’s how you live your life?

Yes. Yes. Fearlessly and quite the adventurous, authentic nature.

 

That’s awesome.

And if you could add anything else to a general audience what would it be?

*Laughing* I’m single.

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