Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards the arts?
I was born in Ohio and left when I was 8 months old. My brother joined the military and I immediately started my life moving around the country. I’ve lived in Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Maryland, Florida, Alabama, and even Germany for a brief period. Art has been a part of my life ever since I could hold a crayon.
Photo: Asiyami Gold
Your first memory or interpretation of visual art
Instead of coloring I would try to read through all the images I saw in the coloring books . Charlie Brown, Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, a few of the first things that I could draw off of memory after a couple of years repetition.
Were your family and friends always supportive of your work?
My friends and family were supportive but they didn’t always understand my choices. At one point in my life I begin to start doing more radical work and it did concern my parents since I was raised by a religious family. However my mother and father do appreciate what I stand for in the substance of my old work and have come to accept it.
How many man hours do your pieces average and which piece took the longest to date?
The average time span for a piece is about an hour and some change. When I paint canvas it takes up to 5-6 hours with continuous painting. Depending on how I’m feeling , it could take longer. The longest it has ever taken me to do a piece is about a week (a large wooden board painting with a friend of mine).
How long are your working intervals before you need to recoup?
I could go for hours without stopping. Its a problem when I get so caught up in my work I forget to eat sometimes I even fight sleep which I have learned to stop doing that., lol. I value my sleep and do not have a problem stopping to take a nap now, I do my best work when I’m fully charged. #teamnaptime.
How do you determine what will be your next piece or any practices, rituals or a process that inspires the direction of future work?
I have no exact process of determining my next piece, it’s very organic and random. I can draw just about anywhere at any time if necessary, but I do have preferences. It isn’t hard for me to gain inspiration because I have so many things in my head at one time. My biggest problem honestly is taking one of the ideas in my head and trying to decide how to begin execution of it.
What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or friends when pursuing a passion?
To those who do not have positive reinforcement from friends or family you literally have to motivate yourself. You have to create it for yourself. In this time we have so much more to look at for information and inspiration. The Internet provides so many outlets. From pop culture to history, there is a limitless amounts of imagery to inspire you. Also circumstance will motivate you, my motivation was struggling. I was in a constant state of failure and was sick of being at the bottom.
Biggest obstacle to date and how did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle to date had to be finding myself as an artist and as a man simultaneously. For the last few years I was homeless and struggling from things I had done in my past, that eventually had caught up to me. In the midst of a very difficult transition it also brought substance to my work. As I began to research more to better myself as an artist, I was at the same time bettering myself as a man without realizing it. I had to separate myself from a lot of people who were influencing me in a negative way, and I also I slayed myself for quite some time and focused purely on my art. Once I was able to focus, this in turn allowed me to build my reputation internationally as a respected artist.
Photo: Troy Benjamin
If you could could spend the weekend with any artist (past or present) who would it be and why?
If I could spend the weekend with one artist, maybe Norman Rockwell. He was one of the first artist that really made me stop and stare at a piece of art, and really try to figure out what’s going on in the piece. I just want to pick his brain.
If you could only rework one of your pieces for the rest of your life or chose a subject you have yet to attempt but rework for the rest of your life, what piece or subject would it be?
My vanity slave piece. I have already rework it three times and it gets better every time. The reason is because this piece has and always will be relevant to the struggle of the black woman. If you’re not familiar with it’ it is a picture what a model is chained and being pulled in be in many directions
Most humorous or strangest reaction/story regarding your work
There are so many strange stories, I can’t recall a particular one off the top of my head, but I do constantly get people thinking or about the illuminati symbolism in my work.
Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…
I prefer to draw at home, either with the TV playing in the background or music; 90 s hip hop, nineties R&B are my favorite things to create to. I prefer solitude if possible.
Current music playlist
Music playlist… I’m always a couple of years back. Still have Kendrick Lamar section 80. Nas Illmatic. Some Drake. a ton of Michael Jackson. SWV, Isley Brothers .
What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned?
Can’t wait for life because life is not waiting for you. Its called “the pursuit of happiness because you have to chase it.”
I am planning to do more shows throughout 2015 all over the country. Also releasing some more merchandise and some great collaborations on the way!
Photo: Quintavius Oliver
Find more of Markus Prime’s work on instagram or to purchase (including his new e-book; “Bruh” released today) click here