19 July 2011

Keenan Chapman Says "Don't Punk Out On Life"

pickeenanEveryone always advises you to go to college, get a good-paying career and reap the benefits of your hard work. Having a dream, to them, doesn't matter as long as there is plenty of money involved. As an English major, I was questioned about why I wanted to be a teacher and a writer because “you know they don't make any money.” As I spoke to local artist Keenan Chapman about the “lost” arts (photography, writing, painting...etc) making a comeback, I found myself receiving one of the best pieces of advice I've heard in a while... “Don't punk out on life.” A few weeks after getting tattooed by him, I felt I needed to interview him. Currently working on his newest project “Pico Mountain,” he made time for an interview with PBK so we can learn more about how he got the chance to live his dream without hesitation.

1. Tell me about yourself.
I'm a Los Angeles native, born January 28th, 1984. Art is my world and my mission! I have many skills, but I like the element of surprise so stay tuned.

2. How long have you been sketching/painting?
Sketch: Keenan Chapman
I've been sketching as long as I can remember and painting about 2 years now.

3. How did you branch off into tattooing?
I actually started with sketching. I never liked colors, only black and grey Scale. Tattooing came next from loving art and wanting to transfer my work to skin, and painting came shortly after.

4. If you had to choose, which aspect is more rewarding for you: tattooing or painting?
I don't think I can choose because its all Art to me. Most might think tattooing because it's so personal, but it's more personal to that individual. For me, I love seeing people in love with my work or affected in a positive sense. I do many memorial tattoos and paintings. The appreciation is the same. [It's a] form of therapy for my clients.

5. As an artist, did you ever find it difficult getting your name out? If so, how did you overcome it?
No, it's just about being social and going out and showcasing, whether through professional events or independent events. You have to promote yourself. Your work will speak for itself.

Painting: Keenan Chapman

6. What is your favorite subject to draw, and why?
I love to draw faces because of the expression captured in that moment. It was a feeling trapped in time and we get to re-live it through Art and recreation.

7. Thus far, do you have a favorite painting of yours? If so, what is it and why?
Right now, I think my favorite piece is a picture I did of Jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie. I like his facial expression in the photo and the color choice is just positive to me.

8. Being that, until recently, the arts have not been a “respected” occupation, were your parents and family always supportive of your decision to become an artist?
Well, people always recognized the potential to take my Art to the next level. So I had support to a certain degree, but a lot [of people] did question my ability to make a stable living off of it. [I] respectfully understood.

9. Do you ever feel like you could put down your art supplies and be something else?
I'd be a slave for anything else... So hmmmmm... NO.

Keenan Chapman & Rohan Marley
UCLA Reggae Fest 2010

10. On your website, KeenanChapman.com, you have pictures with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and Rohan Marley. Have you been approached by any other celebrities regarding your work?
I've done work for producer Terrace Martin—his "Here My Dear" album cover. [I've worked with] Chante Moore, Billy Preston, and some West Coast rap artists, such as Nipsey Hussle, Problem, Bad Lucc, Kurupt, Bizzy Bone and a couple more.

11. What events (if any) are you currently working on?
The collaboration between me and three other artists is starting a buzz in Downtown LA in our gallery called “PICO MOUNTAIN.” Stay tuned...

12. What is the most challenging aspect of art that you've found so far?
Patience in finishing the next day or whenever. I have a thing where I just don't want to stop sometimes. Also separation from my work once [it's] sold. They're my children, in a sense.

13. Do you feel like you've “made” it? Or what is the next step for Keenan Chapman?
No, I've just begun to scratch the surface of what I'm capable of. “PICO MOUNTAIN” is my focus right now.

14. If someone asked you, “How can I become the next Keenan Chapman?” how would you respond?
Wow. Great, crazy question. I'd tell them not to punk out on life... Take lemons and turn them into global lemonade stands.

15. What inspires you as a person, and as an artist?
God inspires me, along with trials of life, friends, nature and this world's everyday motion.

Keenan can be reached at his website: http://www.keenanchapman.com/.

Thank you, Mr. Chapman for taking time out to speak to PBK. We wish you great success and we'll be on the look out for "Pico Mountain."


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