Bria over at CREATLIV did this awesome interview on my life and artwork. Please support her site and checkout the many Dope interviews she has cracking' creatliv.com. Bless - CNCP
Since my first introduction to the name Tony Concep through Sean Bono's ArtBattles competition, I was highly impressed by his plethora of talents in the arts. He is an innovator and creative visionary that not only invests his mind into his artwork, but also a deep-rooted passion. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explore the mind of this visual artist/designer and it is a pleasure for me to share with you all the Concept…behind Tony Concep.
B: Describe the adolescent period of your life.
T: My adolescent period of life was the blueprint for how I judge whether I make the right or the wrong decisions. I was an only child that was very imaginative and observant. My mother and my grandparents raised me during my early years in New Orleans, LA. I spent my High School years in Charleston, SC, and it was there I regained a relationship with my father, who resides in Maryland. I studied the adults around me as a child and I often compare my past to my present realizing that I came from a crazy background and should always be thankful of how far I made it in life.
B: What motivated Tony Brown into becoming Tony Concep? (What made you want to become an artist?
T: What motivated me early in life to become an artist was primarily film, television, and New Orleans. I watched movies like Beat Street (the old NY B-Boy film) which really inspired me to write graffiti and embrace the art of hip-hop. TV [shows] like the old Bob Ross shows where he would paint an entire painting in a half hour and I’d try to emulate him with my crayons. New Orleans…is just filled with art; my earliest memories would be enjoying the floats in the Mardi Gras parades and wanting to paint them or admiring the colors.
B: How were each of your talents as a dancer, painter, and designer discovered and when?
T: My grandmother was the jack of all [trades], she had me dancing in the house all of the time and she sometimes drew the local newscasters on the TV on her homemade easel. I grew up thinking everybody did art and danced. I figured out I was pretty good at it towards middle school by doing talent shows and competing with classmates [via] drawing popular cartoon characters.
B: You are originally from New Orleans, but attended schools in Florida, and then Brooklyn. What was the most interesting aspect of that traveled journey?
T: Traveling has allowed me to see the differences in people regionally and hold on to the best qualities of every place I visit. I wouldn't change growing up in the south for anything; there I found my inner soul and integrity. The North showed me more of how to become a go-getter and a hustler.
B: How important was it to complete your Bachelors in Film Animation to accompany your talents as a visual artist? Also, do you think aspiring artists need to also add formal education to complement their talents?
T: This is a tough subject for me, considering myself and many of my friends work predominately in fields outside of our major and owe large sums of money to college loan sharks. My immediate opinion to aspiring artists would be…you don’t necessarily need to go to the most expensive school to earn a degree but do get some formal training. Research what your interests are and find an outlet to learn it without creating lifelong debt. I have worked at major companies with artists having the same title as mine, that graduated out of junior colleges, and spent a quarter of what I did to earn my art degree ya’heard.
B: One of your collections that I found truly enticing was the Gunshow collection. It was not only the artwork itself but also your creative process because you were so invested into the final product. You conjured up new fonts, textures, and typography to use in your work that would enhance your vision. How was the inspiration for the Gunshow collection born? 2) What was its significance to you?
T: The Gunshow is a collection I birthed last year here in Los Angeles after my move from Brooklyn. In all honesty, I became intrigued with the idea of Gun art through a visit to Maryland to see my father. He is a collector of guns and I have been around pistols throughout my life coming up in the Carolina’s where most of my homeys had pistols on the kitchen table like centerpieces. The beauty is bitter sweet, guns control us, and they can be decision makers, game changers, and symbols of power. My goal was to shed light on something we tend to take for granted here in the states until tragedy strikes. I find my feelings to be greatly in consternation about guns considering maybe we should have them and maybe we should not. It has always been my goal to bring beauty to the ugly and idea to the thoughtless. Typography and messages go hand in hand, so it’s been a natural progression to use the two as I continue to explain my mixed love and hate for the most powerful tool in America.
B: During the conceptualization process of painting, do you pull more from emotions, thoughts, or life overall?
T: I guess I start with my idea, put the emotions of the moment into every piece, and the point of my life during that period dictates its overall aesthetic.
B: Is there a particular emphasis that you aim to highlight in your work?
T: In particular, I like to emphasize on energy. I’d like to think that artwork lives on your wall so when the lights are turned on, the visual is alive.
B: You were not born unto a famous platform but your artistry is now building one for you, which I believe will reach a height of legacy. I am curious to know what have been your two biggest feats so far in life and how have they contributed to your growth, not only as an artist, but as a man?
T: Thank you for that indeed. I truly believe the biggest feat thus far has been overcoming the fear to fail. It has allowed me to take chances that people in my life maybe haven’t taken; it’s allowed me to get to places I never really imagined I would be in coming from where I originated.
B: I read a description about you being Brooklyn’s answer to the renaissance ideal of the polymath artist. With you being so multi-faceted as a dancer, painter, and fashion designer, how do you envision that role setting the tone for the remainder of your career?
T: I found out earlier in my career that being famous has less to do with the overall success of those who live within their art and are happy. I think if I’m able to create for the rest of my life and be recognized for it in the face of the public to influence others…that would be dope, but most importantly reaching the goals I have set for myself is number one.
B: In just the last few years, international brands like Nike, Marithe Francois Girbaud, Adidas, and others, have commissioned you to contribute your designs to their empires. What does the acquired attention from these respected brands mean to you?
T: It definitely means a lot to work with some of the brands I have admired since my start as a visual artist. The best thing is setting a bar saying one day I’m going to work with these people and then finding yourself in a department store looking at your work or [seeing it] being worn by someone in the streets.
B: As a fan of your work and your story, it’s amicable to witness you transition from being the first winner on MTV’s televised version of Sean Bono’s ArtBattles, in 2007, and now being an internationally known artist. Do you think that exposure helped your career in any way?
T: I am more than thankful for the platform and opportunities ArtBattles put me onto and even more grateful to see my good friend Sean Bono take his project and move it around the world. It’s a testimony that an idea can go from something small to something big with the right team and hard work.
B: Speaking of Sean Bono, who has such a profound presence in the street art culture, you both seem to have developed a great friendship over the years and you have continuously been a part of the ArtBattles. Can you describe the experience of live painting in that famous competition?
T: Live art for me is the breathing essence of an artist, it not only puts the pressure of producing something amazing on a stage, it also shows how creation can appear right before your eyes. Competing has never been my thing when it comes to my personal art, I just like to express myself and sometimes that doesn't come in the form of a beautiful painting. Live painting in the Artbattles competition has been the greatest asset for me by connecting me to other like-minded artists; and it exposes many people to the process of the artist mind…getting them from point A to point B. It’s really amazing to perform art for an audience; it’s something everyone should be exposed too. God is the greatest artist and we witness the Most High’s art live, daily through sunsets, storms, plant life, etc.
B: For a long time, many contemporary art enthusiasts not only despised the street art culture, but also deemed it ephemeral once it gained popularity. What are your thoughts on that topic?
T: I think street art broke the barrier from simply being this fad after Basquiat’s [artwork] starting breaking gallery record sales. Everything in music, style, and fashion comes from the streets and when it gets too far away, the streets find a way to take it back.
B: What is the best wisdom that you have received since you decided to become an artist?
T: One thing I like to remember is a quote from a great contemporary American painter, Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs”, we as artist need to just do the work.
B: Provide any honorable mentions or last words that you would like to share with the readers.