Each week, we will interview members of The Art School Without Walls, Vol. 6 to learn more about the apprentices, their journey as artists and their aspirations
NAME: Naiky Paradis
JOINED Cre8TiveYouTH*INK: 2012
Naiky Paradis joined the Cre8tiveYouTH*ink team when she was a junior at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She is currently finishing her 1st year at Parsons where she studies architectural design. She is particularly interested in conceptual design and urban planning and hopes to find innovative ways to fuse her interests in fine art and architecture, with an eye on how people respond to visual stimuli in their environments.
What made you decide to major in architectural design?
I actually want to branch out from architecture eventually but I want to gain that knowledge first. It’s not just about learning how to draw buildings but also learning how people engage with their environments, noticing how people react to places. It’s so built into our brains we don’t even notice it most of the time. If we feel bad in a place, it’s often because we’re not comfortable in the physical space but we don’t process it like that. So, having the knowledge of the bigger sphere of how that works would allow me to do so much more in the future.
Are there any specific architects who inspire you right now?
Moon Hoon, who’s from South Korea. He’s not very famous but I really like what he does with spaces. It’s insane and really inspires me.
Do you see a relationship between what you learn from architecture and what you learn from painting?
Oh definitely! They’re so related. Even though as artists we say, “oh it’s just for myself; I paint for myself,” we always really have an intended viewer in mind. Someone’s going to see it and maybe notice something special in it. A mural, a painting–they affect us the same way a building does.
What is your favorite part of working on these projects?
Well, I’m very individualistic normally. I usually work by myself and like to do everything alone so these projects help me learn to be a team player.
What advice would you give to younger artists?
Try everything. That’s what helps you the most when you’re young. I had always drawn as a kid but I started painting one day simply because a teacher told me to and I loved it. In college, I started learning about digital art and graphic design which I’ve really gotten into also. So, by being open, I’ve done so many things for the first time and that helped me discover what I do and don’t like, which helps me figure out what to do going forward.
NAME: DANNY SABB
JOINED Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2011
Danny Sabb became involved with Cre8tiveYouTH*ink during his sophomore year at Brooklyn High School of the Arts when his art teacher paid special attention to his talent and encouraged him to pursue art more seriously. After helping Sabb enter his work in contests and search for art-related jobs, she advised him to meet with Mista Oh! He delved right into painting projects with the team after their 1st meeting and has remain involved ever since, while pursuing individual projects and joining other art collectives.
What do you think about the photo and the name of the mural, Sign Language?
I think the title is kind of mysterious, in a good way. The photo speaks to you if you actually take a minute to stare at it. What’s so moving about the picture is that the boy is really climbing streets signs to grab a tire to make bikes with. He’s willing to go up there and do what he has to do. That’s what the picture in saying to me: you have to reach for your goals. That’s moving.
Advice for younger artists?
If art is what you want to do then go for it. No one can really stop you. No one can tell you what to believe in. You have to do what you have to do.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I see my work in a gallery. It doesn’t have to be a popular one, I just want people to know that Danny is out there. I also like music, so I wouldn’t mind being a musician. I mean, hey, it’s related to visual art . They are like cousins!
Who are some of your favourite artists?
My favorite artist of all time is Vincent van Gogh. Starry Night is the bomb! I like the way he did the stars. I really tried to re-paint it in the eighth grade. It wasn’t too hard. It just didn’t come out the way his painting did. It came out great though. I created my own version.
Any last thoughts?
Yeah, I love Cre8tiveYouTH*ink!
NAME: RAQUEL CASTILLO
JOINED Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2013
Raquel Castillo is one of the newer, younger Cre8tiveYouTH*ink members. She joined the crew during her senior year at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. Self-motivated and artistically driven from a very young age, Castillo prepared an art portfolio to apply to New York City middle schools without any adult help. Art has been an integral part of her life ever since. She is currently a freshman at Parsons where she majors in fashion design and minors in fashion communication.
Why do you think art is important?
It’s a universal thing and for youth it opens up different possibilities. For me, I wasn’t inspired by other subjects and my teachers weren’t helping me in middle school. And in high school, all the kids were focused on being cool but art gave me something better to focus on.
What kind of art do you create outside of Cre8tiveYouTH*ink?
I make different things but I focused on painting for my Parsons portfolio. I decided to do self-portraits. They were very big and mostly black and white, with a little red. The theme was being frozen in time. I wore red lipstick for them because I thought it was really empowering. Fashion in general can be very empowering.
You can put something on that compliments you really well and it transforms you. It can give you self-esteem and make you feel like nobody can mess with you.
Who is your favorite artist?
Alyssa Monks is my favorite artist right now. My favorite fashion designer is Elie Saab. He had no professional training. He just started when he was a kid by making clothes for his sister, which turned into these amazing gowns. I got into fashion and art initially because I loved wedding gowns.
What advice would you give to a younger artist?
Whatever kind of art you make, keep a record and find a program that focuses on that–that’s the first step. From there you’ll be able to learn about other art projects and meet other artists.
NAME: EDWINA PIERRE
JOINED Cre8tiveYouTH*ink: 2010
Edwina Pierre was one of the Cre8tiveYouTH*ink pioneers. She became acquainted with Mista Oh! when she took his SAT Prep course at Brooklyn High School of the Arts during her sophomore year. When Mista Oh! discussed the possibility of working on art projects, she was game. Along with the other original Cre8tiveYouTH*ink members, Pierre helped artist Sofia Maldonado with outreach programs in New York City public schools before they began working on mural projects. The experience was especially fruitful for Pierre who is currently studying human services at City Tech with the goal of working with inner-city youth in the future.
What was one of your favorite parts of working on this project?
I also really like working with the team again. There is a support system in Cre8tiveYouTH*ink, which is very important. A lot of people become distanced from what they did and who they were with in high school and I’m still involved with my friends now and continue to make art even though I’m going to school to become a guidance counselor.
Why do you want to become a guidance counselor?
I like giving back to the community. Most of the projects I’m working on focus on vulnerable populations. Teens are by definition a very vulnerable population because most people don’t listen to them. But they have voices, they have interests and it’s very important for the larger community to recognize that they need help. Organizations like Cre8tiveYouTH*ink are very good for teenagers because art can minimize all the bad influences around them and give them something positive to focus on instead.
How do you think others can help aspiring artists?
It just takes one person to believe in them. It all started with my middle school art teacher so basically you just need to inspire that person even if they can’t do something well at first. It takes practice.
What would you tell the young artists themselves?
Be so focused on something like that that you don’t realize that you’re in a bad neighborhood or anything. Focus on art, music or whatever interests you have. It gets you through the hard times and helps relieve stress. Don’t give up. Even if you don’t go to school for it, still have it as a hobby.
Are you excited to see the mural finished on the new building?
Yes! I can’t wait to see the mural on the building. We’ve done panel to panel to panel and now that the project is almost done, we’re going to see it and be like, “that’s our baby.” It’s important to see things grow.