I’ll be short with this one. This piece was inspired by the Barack Obama Presidential portrait. This is just what I think a Trump version of that art would be. Feel free to share or buy prints here.
I’ll be short with this one. This piece was inspired by the Barack Obama Presidential portrait. This is just what I think a Trump version of that art would be. Feel free to share or buy prints here.
This is one of my experimental pieces. I’m playing with the idea of crossing some of the superhero art I love to create with some of the looser, more abstract work that I do. I most often create comic book pieces on bristol board with marker or digitally. I”m more playful with the colors and swirls of my abstract work, it flows across the canvas. Thor brings those together and I’m very happy with the result. I wanted it to feel like a variant cover of Thor but still feel like a piece of “art”.
Prints are available HERE
This idea came from a couple of different places: first, my love of mashups, and second, an old Green Lantern blank comic cover I did a few years ago. Animaniacs is one of my favorite shows and I thought the idea of The Warner Brothers with the powers of the Green Lantern Corps would be both hilarious and mildly terrifying. The original comic cover that I drew was just a plain white background with Wakko flying toward a sandwich construct. This time I thought I’d take it a bit further and have a little more fun: I based the whole look on the Green Lantern movie poster. I added a few more characters from the Animaniacs show to fit the characters that were on the movie poster. I particularly like Chicken Boo, it just opens up an entire joke of its own. This piece is done on bristol board with Copic markers.
Prints are available HERE.
Here are a few process pics.
I love doing art inspired by my favorite musicians or bands. This piece was experimental and fun, because the Gorillaz exist visually as a cartoon band. I was trying a new brand of pastels as the base, and sprayed it with a workable fixative, adding Copic markers to refine and sharpen details. The finishing was done with Acrylic markers to add depth and a little movement. The look I achieved was sharper than most of my canvas pieces. I also played with figuring out how to capture their personalities while holding on to the digital look of the band and using traditional techniques. to purchase prints of this piece click Here.
Below are some progress pics.
With this piece I revisited my first music-themed piece, which was of Kendrick Lamar. I still love that first piece but as I’ve grown and progressed with art, I see ways it could be improved. So with the release of “DAMN,” I thought it was the perfect time to do another “Kung Fu Kenny.” One of my favorite things about it, is that it’s a recycled canvas from a canvas print that was damaged by a rainy night at the art market. I washed the ink off with water and started with just the image of Kendrick’s face from the “Humble” video where his head is on fire. In the flames I used the line that starts the album: “Is it wickedness? Is it weakness? You decide. Are we gonna live or die?” Then I detailed around his face with my favorite line from every other song on the album.
Prints and original are available in my store here https://squareup.com/store/monty/item/damn
art that night at the art market where I was working, and when I heard the news of Prince’s death, I felt compelled to create a Prince piece. I did the pastel work while listening to “Purple Rain,” and added the lettering later. I included the lyrics to “When Doves Cry,” highlighting key lyrics to give them a little more impact. The words read from the bottom up, in order to flow into the dove flying up into the sky.
here are some progress pictures
prints are available here https://mkt.com/monty/item/when-doves-cry
to see more progress like this as it happens and to support me and my art become a patron on my patreon page
The inspiration for this is obviously, our favorite webhead, The Amazing Spider-Man. I wanted to have fun and play around with a different style that combines the loose strokes of my pastel pieces and the tighter lines and colors of my marker work. I love the outcome. I started with a rough splash of color to build the shape of Spidey on the page, then the next step was to spray it with a workable fixative and add a layer of Copic markers to sharpen those shapes. The third pass was to add acrylic markers to enhance the flow of the colors. The final step was adding black lines white highlights and a white gel pen for webbing.
Here are a few progress pictures, if you enjoy the progress pics you can follow me on patreon
Prints available Here https://squareup.com/store/monty/item/spider-man
I struggled with whether or not I was going to actually do this series. Just like any other series I’ve created, it comes from a deeply personal place. When it comes to some of my more expressive work, I have rule: the piece is done when I step back and I feel something. inCOMPLETE did not fail to deliver. In fact, most of the pieces had me in tears upon completion.
inCOMPLETE is mainly about what I see and experience as a black man in America. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness (a story I won’t get into here, maybe in a future series). Being raised a Witness is the foundation for my morals and core beliefs. At home, I learned a lot of self-hatred about being a black man, which I assume was unintentional. My parents did their best with their task of raising a black man in America. Those two factors made me the man I am today. I spent a good portion of my life believing (as I should) that I could be anything if I worked for it and earned it. As I’ve educated myself in my adult life, the color of the world around me started to change, my experiences started to make more sense, and it hurt to see. This evolution inspired this series.
In 2016 and early 2017, I have heard so many people telling protesters to “stop whining” or calling them “cry babies.” This gets under my skin, because before you know what a person’s real life experience is, you simply can’t judge their pain. So inCOMPLETE is about talking about what is real, what I really experience as a black man. It’s about starting conversation, not arguments. About being heard, and not just recycling talking points.
The reason I chose “inCOMPLETE” as the title is because despite the fact that we as a country have come so far in terms of race relations and made so much progress, we seem to have settled into thinking “we’ve done it.” But there is so much more work that still needs to be done. It’s like asking for a slice of pie that everyone else is getting, and fighting for your share, and in the end you get a bite and say you’ve won. Why? The picture is not complete. I want it to show in the art.
The terms “open wounds” in the series title ties into the cut-out portions of canvas. These represent the fact that, from the start, the canvas itself isn’t complete. This is a representation of the progress that still needs to be made. The element of the red drips that flow from the cutouts represent our “open wounds.” My goal with this series was to create art that would start conversations, and be both beautiful and troubling.
On Our Backs
“On Our Backs” is the first piece I completed in this series. I used this piece to nail down my process for each piece that followed. Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention was part of my inspiration for this work: “That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” To me, that’s America. This is something I say with both pain and pride: pain because of the history; pride because of the start of progress.
My process for this item was in two phases. I started with a pastel drawing of the slave, covered it with a clear coat and cleaned up the bottom of the canvas with white acrylic paint. Progress stopped on this piece for a while because I couldn’t figure out exactly how I was going to pull this off. I knew what I wanted to say and where it had to go, I just had no idea how i was going to get there. So the piece sat for months. Finally I started with the whip marks on his back, using the refill tube for my red acrylic marker. When I added the first lash and saw it drip down the canvas, I was hit by the power of what I was doing to this imaginary person who had been waiting on the canvas. He became real, and I felt like I was hurting him. Each line was harder to add than the one before.
Next, I figured how to cut the shape out of the canvas. This is something I had never done before, so I was taking a chance on ruining a piece that had already had an emotional response from me. My intention had always been to put an upside down White House under the figure, but when I finished cutting, I wasn’t initially happy with the result. I then decided to take the red refill tube and trace the lines of the cutouts, which intensified the amount of drips at the bottom of the piece, and really brought the piece together for me.
“On Our Backs” is about standing proudly while you’re still bleeding, and being ready to fight through that pain, in order to heal your wounds.
The depiction of black men and women as inherently angry without provocation has been used the media to instill fear of black people in the white population. It is a lie. The eyes of an “angry black man” are surrounded by other labels applied to black people, marginalizing them as threatening, aggressive criminals. The eyes are lying, which gave me the title of this piece.
I intended to make the labels decorative, used commonly and thrown around lightly as they often are in popular culture. The meaning is seemingly taken away, but the words are profoundly hurtful and hateful. The red tears from his eyes made me shudder as I painted them, they represent pain.
The process of creating #hashtag was very emotional and upsetting for me. It represents my own fear of being a victim of police violence. In researching the piece, I relived each abuse and each killing.
The base image of the hoodie was drawn in pastels, and that was detailed with shredded pictures of Emmett Till and the Scottsboro Boys. The falling bullet shapes in the background are printouts of police reports of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Rodney King,Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner.
Over the bullets are slogans from civil rights protest signs from the 1960s through today. The title of the piece comes from the sign I quoted at the bottom of the piece: “We are all one bullet away from becoming a hashtag,” with the word “hashtag” in red to represent blood being shed.
For me, this piece is about contemporary slavery in America. Prisoners, like many of their ancestors, are treated as three-fifths of a man. New slaves in the prison system are at their prime: in great shape, healthy and strong. But their power is used to manufacture products marketed to the outside world, and they earn next to nothing for their labor.
The depiction of a man with invisible bars also refers to black men being prisoners in the outside world. Going out can make me feel like prey being hunted, and I’m scared to go driving in the middle of the night. As a black man, I feel imprisoned in my own home, locked inside at night.
The dominant theme for this piece is the internal struggle within the black community to succeed and climb up the ladder. My perception is that black people pull each other down in that process. I was raised to think I was better than other black people, although that was not said explicitly. I was told to not be lazy, and that other black folks were lazy, and that by working harder than them, I could succeed. Only by competing with each other and stepping on each, we can get up the ladder.
The cut-out image of a man pulling the woman down as she tries to climb out of her current situation may be hard to see, and that’s intentional. Similarly, the problem itself is blurry and not always well-defined. As you stare at the cut-out and the image becomes more clear, you can see the shape of a man holding onto a woman. I believe that collaboration and mutual support are key to uplifting the community as a whole, and that we can’t get anywhere as a people if we are constantly climbing over each other.
Personally, I relate more to the woman climbing in this picture, naked and exposed as she struggles to overcome challenges. I have often felt ostracized from the black community, as early as my school days when I was made fun of because I spoke “like white people.” But regardless of personal ambition or education, on the outside we all face the same challenges.
INdiVISIBLE depicts in a simple pastel drawing an elongated shape of a woman’s face and neck looking up. The controlled beauty is meant to contrast with the chaos of the background made of flowing and wild hair and words.
The beautiful woman is faceless, invisible. Her voice is not heard, speaking up against the injustice and trying to advocate for herself and her family against the chaotic systemic targeting of black Americans. She is being told that she is the cause of her struggle, and that her behavior should change in order to receive better treatment.
The title INdiVISIBLE is a play on the phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance: “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” America remains in fact profoundly divided, with large segments of society being talked over and silenced, blamed and invisible.
Great Again? questions the role of the black man in Trump’s America. My depiction of Trump was not meant to be a mocking caricature, as many critics fall back on, but instead a representation that is potentially likeable. Instead, I aim to highlight what I have personally experienced first and second hand in the wake of his election: a sharp increase in verbal and physical attacks on black people and other minorities.
In the image, Trump points toward the future, preaching his vision. His arm is around a black man, who could be any and every black man, but this man is covered in blood drips. The blood drips from the cut out of a shadow of a tree. And if you look closely, you will see that the shadow includes the outline of a lynched man. The shadow of history represents the fact that America has never been great for black and brown people. Making “America Great Again” doesn’t apply to those who are covered in blood.
Home of the Brave
Home of the Brave is my first 3-D piece, and the idea behind it developed over an extended period of time. The head coming from the canvas represents the growth and upward movement of black people in America.
The base of the piece, on the canvas, is the past: an actively burning American flag with the lyrics from the third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner, summing up a bittersweet moment in American history. The land of the free did not apply to the slaves, and they are specifically excluded in this line:
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Building on this, I represented growth from ugly beginnings: crying permanent, carved out tears, the head is pasted with dripping pictures of Huey Newton, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, three men among many who fought for change.
The leaves cascading off the head are cut out in the shape of tobacco and cotton leaves, products of slave labor being shed as black people emerge from the past. This is meant to be a hopeful piece, and the light coming from inside shines bright through the carved tears.
Thanks for taking a look
Prints and originals of the entire series are available in my store
February represents new beginnings for me.
I spent the month of January completing all of the unfinished work left over from 2015. You’ll see those being integrated as new prints throughout the year.
February 2016 marks my first year being a full-time, self-sustaining artist. It’s been a bumpy road and one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Leading up to February last year I had been going through an ugly breakup, that had me in a pretty bad place. I worked in a local comic shop part-time while doing various graphic design jobs and comic style commissions. I felt that something was missing though and I wasn’t pulling in what I needed to move forward, so I tried to figure out what the next step was.
I started using art to get through the tough time I was having. It was the first time I really stepped out and used art to express what I was feeling. I started a series called “Songs.” The idea for the series was to talk about various women that inspired me throughout my life. The end result was seven pieces done on illustration board with pastels. It was the first time I had really used art as an outlet. It felt amazing and new. I felt freedom and relief.
But I still felt stagnant. I had all of this art that I was incredibly proud of and that I felt such a connection. But I was frustrated because I didn’t know what to do with the work itself. I thought I should take a shot at selling my work at some of the local art markets. I researched and made lists and decided that in 2015 working those would be the beginning. I sent out one application, I thought the Frenchmen art market seemed like the best place to start. A few weeks passed and I hadn’t heard anything, so I decided to send a follow up email to see what was going on with my application. The day I got the acceptance email, I broke down in tears because I still had no idea how to move forward.
February 12th was the first night I worked the market and all I had was the “Songs” series. It was a slow start, but it was the beginning of change. I was doing something I’d never done before, and I was moving forward. I’ve continued to move forward from that point on.
Now it’s February again, a year later, and I’m in a much better place in so many aspects of my life. I’ve set new goals and I’m confident that I’ll achieve them by 2017. I’ve been revisiting the “Songs” series, doing a series I call “Remixes” — pieces inspired by some of my favorite “Songs.”
Check my calendar to find out where I’m working in February. I’ll be finishing one “Remix” each week, in addition to one larger piece that I’ll be working on every weekend during my month-long artist residency at the Magazine Art Market. Come and join me on February 12th at the Frenchmen Art Market from 7-1 for a Monty-versary party — “One Year of Monty!”. I’ll be drawing the market space and giving away some free prints! If you can’t make it out for that be sure to follow me on all of my social media for live updates and to follow my progress on the “Remixes”.
When I was a kid, I’d make any excuse to jump in the car with my older brother and listen to his tapes: drum and bass, Eazy E, The Chronic. I started digging into the history, paying attention to music news, and talking to people at record stores. NWA and all the members’ projects became consistent favorites. I love almost everything they’ve done since then. I don’t relate to all their experiences, my life has been very different. But I love that “attitude”.
I hear NWA’s passion and drive. Their determination to make change, to do something, to be heard. They were able to get their aggression out and to express their anger through music, dealing with conflict in a non-violent way. To me, that’s what art is about: expressing yourself through your medium, whatever that is. For them, it is gansta rap; for me, expressionist pastels.
NWA has been so important to music and truly made an impact. They have left a legacy and pathed the road for artists like Eminem, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and TI. This, from 5 completely broke motherfuckers who got together and shook up rap music. I have so much love and respect for NWA, and I really enjoyed spending time with them through their music as I paid my respect for them through my art.
“I started this gangsta shit and this the motherfucking thanks I get?” –Chin Check N.W.A
My process for making these pieces started with making a playlist of everyone’s albums, all the solo and group projects. I shuffled the songs, threw on my headphones and spent three days sketching them and working with the pastels. Then I hung them up together on the wall and stepped back to look at them together. I couldn’t work on pieces individually, and had to work on them next to each other so that they flow together. I needed a space big enough to look at them all on the same wall, so I could step back, and then get close to work on them.
After sketching, the pastels served as the base coat. Then I put the pieces in order on the wall: Dr. Dre, Yella, Eazy E, Ren and Ice Cube, left to right. I added the black acrylic paint to darken the shadows and get heavy contrast, then the red acrylic background. When it came time to choose the song titles to add, I listened to the artist’s songs and chose my favorites, the ones that really spoke to me about who that artist is. I was trying to pinpoint the impact that NWA has on rap/gansta rap music. After adding the details, I knew each piece was done when I stepped back and felt something from it. Anything more would be too much.
When I look at the Dre piece, what stands out to me is the flow, movement of the words around his face. It feels slow and deep, like his beats. I wanted his lettering to be bolder and larger, because Dre and his beats were the backbone of the group.
Yella had a solo album is ‘96 that was completely off my radar. When I started focusing on this piece, I found the album on youtube, and played that link over and over. With the first listen, I wrote down the tracks I liked best. I felt the songs for the first time almost 20 years after they were released. It was like revisiting a past I never had.
Looking at the finished piece, I see that Eazy E has a dark side and a light side. This wasn’t intentional, but it makes sense because Eazy E seemed to be conflicted and have a dark and light side to who he was. He was still a drug dealer from Compton who invested his money to put the group together. He rapped about that life he came from. The song title “Still a Nigga” is scrolled around his eye; he was true to himself in his songs.
With Ren’s piece, I really settled into the graffiti look of the pieces. His name is swirled on his hat like smoke in a crystal ball. This one came together when I added the words and the red details at the end. My soundtrack for this piece included listening to “Final Frontier” from “Kizz My Black Azz” on repeat. Ren spoke his truth and had real authenticity. He was talking about who he was:
Ice Cube has his own flow: “Check Yo Self” flows down the side of his head like his hair. I played “Bop Gun” on repeat while I worked on the details of this piece, it’s one of my favorites. Ice Cube was central to NWA with his lyrics and his sound. He created “Boyz-n-the-Hood”. AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted was significant in establishing his identity. Friday expanded his influence.