Digital artist/videographer and aspiring clothing designer BETTIES discusses his artwork, its roots, and its direction. His work is a distorted field of imagination and lost time. Both his video and digital artwork play with color and surreal motion patterns.
BETTIES has done promotional work for Rag&Bone, Migos, and has completed his latest project "beholder" which will be presented at the Five Myles Gallery Film Festival this fall.
What is your artistic background?
I started off making comic books back in middle school but didn't think much of it obviously, because I was 10. But in high school, I discovered Photoshop and started designing t-shirts for myself and my friends. In college, I studied digital design and graphic design which is when I started to fall in love with digital art and photo-manipulation.
When did you find yourself getting into digital art?
I really started to get into digital art around 19-20 while I was getting over a tough break up. I was feeling really lost and uninspired. At this time I stopped doing freelance work and I even stopped designing clothes for my own brand. One night I was listening to music while watching a movie on silent and something about how that specific scene blended perfectly with the song I was listening to just made everything connect in my head. I took some of those elements and applied it to personal artwork rather than clothing designs and I haven't looked back since.
What inspires you/ who are some of your favorite artists?
I'm inspired by a lot of things really. As you can see through my artwork, women are amongst my greatest inspirations. Whether it be sexually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, women are the reason for all of my trials, tribulations, and blessings. As cliché as it sounds, living in New York inspires me greatly as well. I thrive off the hustling mind state of the city while also appreciating the beauty of the mix of different cultures which is evident in my artwork.
Some of my favorite artists are Takahashi Murakami, Thorton Dial, George Condo, Hajime Sorayama, and my mentor Luigi Cazzaniga.
You've been working on some video pieces, what are some challenges you face that differ from 2d work?
With video projections you have a lot of factors to take into account like size and brightness and clarity, also a lot of venues and galleries do not have projectors which sucks too so then location becomes a major factor. In my videos, I do a lot of distorting and overlaying and blending of people, shapes, and colors but the viewer might not catch everything I'm doing off first glance like they would in 2d work. What I like to do is make my projections captivating enough to want people to watch it over and over until you either catch my message and love it or fall in love with the technique. Or they can hate it too which is fine with me, as long as they stopped, stared, and felt something.
What other mediums are you working with, have you experimented with a medium you're totally unfamiliar with?
I was getting too comfortable in the digital world so I started cutting faces out of newspapers and construction paper. I ended up making 50 4x4 faces one month and displayed them all at an art show I held in Urban Outfitters. I also made a huge 8ft by 4ft carving out of plywood just to stray away from digital artwork and not be tied down to one form of expression. No one taught me how to carve or what tools to use so that whole process was as challenging as it was fun, even though it took me 2 months to complete.
What have been some of your most memorable projects?
The 8ft by 4ft plywood carving [Big Pimpin'] is definitely up there with one of my most memorable projects because of how long it took and how disciplined it forced me to be. The projection I did for a major group show that I was a part of [beholder] was definitely the most memorable video I made. That one video has opened a lot of doors for me, and people still big me up to this day for creating it. Also, it was the biggest show I have ever been a part of and I was so blessed to meet a lot of amazing & famous artists- shout out to Luigi again.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on way too many projects. I'm finishing up a short film that I've been working on for a few months now that's going to be presented at a Brooklyn film festival in the fall. It's going to be similar to 'beholder' but with better animations, more dialogue and a clearer storyline. I'm also working on my streetwear brand wavybabynyc™ which takes up most of my free time nowadays, but it's about to be time to drop some new items. When I'm not doing that I'm always doing freelance graphic design work, so I'm literally never not working. But I wouldn't have it any other way.