Why X-Payne Supports My Mermaid Obsession & Makes Us Miss the 90’s

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1.) What are some of the greatest influences in your career?

I would say Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Takashi Murakami. They all influenced me in various ways but I’m also a studend of Hip-Hop so I sometimes respond to songs that I hear and allow myself to be moved greatly by lyrics in songs. The clearer the story is to me in a song, the more likely I am to be moved to make something from it.

2.) Where do you draw your inspirations from?

Life. My mistakes, and successes inspire my choices as a designer and artist. I think it was Basquiat who said he doesn’t think about art when he’s painting. He just thinks about life. I often do the same thing, and I try to chase a moment that is just waiting on me to go grab it. Music inspires me too. I’m a big, big music fan. Conversations with friends and colleagues help me shape my own opinions and fuel my motivations on the personal side of things.

3.)a. When did you discover your passion in the arts? b.) Was there a significant turning point that promoted you to pursue your passion professionally?

I always, always knew I was going to be an artist of some sort. I honestly never saw any other career path for me. I settled into graphic design and illustration because it was a practical choice for an artist to make if they wanted to make some sort of living. It turns ot that the field I have chosen allows me to be a hybrid creator, and I float between artist, illustrator, and designer constantly.

Graduating College is a big motivator, ha. I want to keep doing what I’m doing now so I would just say the motivation to do whats in my heart is what pushes me to pursue my passion.

3.) I’m so delighted that you created such a beautiful interpretation of Langston Hughes poem “Catch”. I have always identified with the spirit of a mermaid, and feel that in order to live in reality you must have a healthy belief in fantasy. What role does fantasy play in your creative process?

Thank you. I agree. I think that imagination is a great tool for anyone, not just creative people. Imagination is made out of the same stuff that dreams are made from, whatever that is. I try not to look at it like an escape from reality, but instead more of a window that lets light in ones thoughts. We do have to keep it in check though, or imagining can be a dangerous thing.

Im a big nerd. I love comics, and The Lord of the Rings. I especially like Greek mythology and Yoruban mythology. Growing up with stuff like that as a source of inspiration teaches you that there is always an ideal that one can aim towards. Imagination makes life seem more like a journey and less like a straight-up path.

4.)”Slave Ship ” is a powerful and striking piece. What does it symbolize to you, and what was your personal journey in creating it.

I did that for an art show in 2012, called “Re-Masters of the Universe.” It was based on a JMW Turner painting of the same name. The story behind the original painting was about a particular slave trader’s ship. He was informed, mid-journey to America across the Atalantic, that his “property” was sick and therefore of no value. To keep the rest of the “property” safe, he threw the sick slaves overboard. Thats why there are heads and hands floating in the water. The black sea I think plays on my own fear of not being able to see the end of things (like the bottom of the ocean). Its not eternity that scares me, its uncertainty and not knowing whats next. Its cool to me that the water also looks like a big sea of oil. Its kind of a subliminal enviormental commentary in my eyes.

Added to the terror of being handcuffed bobbing in an ocean is the fact that there were actually sharks in the water who made easy meals of the shackled slaves. You can see sharks in mine too. I feel race is still a very big issue in America. But what people sometimes fail to realize is that racism hurts everyone ultimately, and thats why there are people of different races in my version. We’re all slaves in some way.

5.) What tokens of advise would you give your younger self?

You’re the best around. Nothing’s gonna every keep you down. Don’t forget that, and don’t take it for granted. And tell your parents you love them.

6.) Congratulations in your transition to designer! When will your wearable art be available?

Thank you. Theres some shirts available now at my esty shop.

 Upcoming Events:

I have some shows coming up:

March 23 – NYC Loves Dilla (Talib Kweli is headlines) @ Webster Hall
April 10 – Ill be apart of an OutKast Tribute concert in Nashville, selling OutKast art and shirts I’ve never made before, among other things
April 20 – Grind Nation presents: LOUD @ Club Forty7 Bar and Grill in Huntsville, AL
Sept 6 – Ill have my solo show at the Nashville Art Crawl (No official title yet, but stay tuned)

Check out more of X-Payne’s work and updates at:




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