Who are the artists that create the murals we love? I got the pleasure of interviewing Jamond Bullock and Joseph Boyd to talk about creativity, their journey as artists, and the mural I had the pleasure of dancing in front of in my last post. I arrived at our interview with a ton of questions, hoping it would move our conversation along in case we needed more to talk about, but we were graced with good vibes and a collective love of art and music, so we were kindly kicked out of Café Eclectic towards the end! We had too much we wanted to talk about. So, I’ve attempted to condense our two hour conversation into a plea for utilizing creative gifts to inspire others and to delve behind the scenes of a “Day in the Life” mural.
Jamond and Joseph have known each other since middle school, knew each other when Girbauds tall tees and J’s were the standard, and came together to create the Day in the Life mural to capture Memphis through their eyes. The mural was commissioned by the Downtown Art Commission, in partnership, with local restaurants to help fight blight in the city, but also to provide creative interpretations of Memphis to natives and visitors.
When you visit the mural there is an immediate visual overload. Bright hues of yellow, pink, green, and many other colors saturate your vision and you’re drawn in by the figures and places that make Memphis unique. MLK becomes King Tut, skaters cruise over the Pyramid, and black men propose to natural-haired black women. Jamond smirked and casually notes “the symbols are what make the mural, the hidden designs”. It was in that moment I realized “A Day in the Life” stretches spectators perception of Memphis, it forces spectators to interact with its message.
Joseph chimes in, nodding his head, he mentions the famous butterfly wings in the mural represent new life and rebirth. The two portraits are new talent brought into the city, a nod to the city’s efforts to prevent brain drain and the cultivation of innovation that can only be found in Memphis. One of my favorite vignettes in the mural is the portrayal of black love.
When I first saw it I was like “aw snap, it’s a black couple and he’s proposing…with a ROCK (think over exaggerated ring and ring box lol). It was this beautiful portrayal of black affection, which is often perceived as a rarity than a norm in art and media representations. It was Jamond’s visual validation of black love and it was stable and long-term. He reminds spectators sometimes there’s more than a baby mama, or more than a hustler. Sometimes there’s marriage, sometimes there’s laughter, sometimes there’s the ultimate black joy: cookouts.
Both artists agreed that revealing the beauty and complexities of the black experience was a form of activism. Black art representation became their weapons. Love; their bullets. Jamond mentioned the Philando Castile case and turned his head to the window and back to me saying “I live in a country where I can kill a black man and still keep my job”, so art became his way of revealing our shared humanity and experience.
Whether it be murals, commissioned portraits, or customized Air Force Ones; Joseph and Jamond’s creativity have a greater purpose. They both desire to see communities where youth have access to creative outlets, creatives collaborate to build wealth, and Southern Conservative ideals don’t create artistic limits in public spaces, especially when they aim to discount myths of blackness.
Perhaps they desire for black youth to love art the way they did as children. Jamonds’ older brother greatly inspired his love for art, to be the best artist he could be. For Joseph it was nature, dinosaurs, and outer space. His art inspiration seemed to be God himself. The coolest thing about their journeys is they allowed their passions to lead them on a non-traditional route, nonetheless. They actually followed their dreams and cultivated the talents and gifts they were given to not only, fulfill their purpose, but to encourage others to do the same.
When I asked them for any encouraging words or inspirational tidbits for people reading this, I truly was asking for myself, somewhere deep, in that question. So here’s my top 3 tips I gained from Jamond and Joseph:
- Be CONSISTENT.
“You don’t have to be the best, be consistent” We don’t have to be experts, or the most skilled, but what stands out is that we endure. It reminds me of the bible verse that says something to the effect of “Life’s journey is not given to the fastest or strongest, but to those that endure”
- In the words of Kia Shine “Get your Tech Game Up”
One of the reasons we got along so well is they often used rap verses and songs to explain different phases in their lives and lessons learned. Story. Of. My Life. Joseph and Jamond stressed the importance of utilizing technology a free platform for promotion and collaboration. They also added that sometimes your support may come from those on screen instead of friends and family.
- Believe in You.
They repeatedly told me to be confident in my passions and pursue them, even when nobody else supports them. I guess that’s a major part of endurance; you believe in yourself even when everything and everyone is against you. Eventually you set forth a path for yourself and victories follow along the way. They sure have for these two Memphians.
Joseph is currently a banker, husband, and all around creative bad-ass. He has a keen eye for abstraction and transforming any piece of clothing into a wearable masterpiece. His creations can be found on Instagram @flightoffancyco
Jamond is a full-time artist, husband, former MC (JDolla), and art activist. His work definitely speaks for itself and has landed him a spot as one of Memphis Black 40 under 40. His creations can be found on Facebook and Instagram @alivepaint
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