Taylor White, is a fantastic American artist born in 1985. She is recognized for her unique expressive fluidity, delicate rendering and poetic artwork. Here’s my interview with Taylor:
Hi Taylor, can you tell us where you from ?
I grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I have my base of operations set up in both Raleigh and Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve spent time in a number of wonderful places around the world, but I find myself feeling the most at home in the South.
How do you define yourself ? Artist ? Street Artist ? graffiti artist ? …
I tend to define myself simply as “artist.” I stumbled into the urban art genre and I stayed because it’s so fun and social, which provides a nice contrast to the general lonesomeness that often goes hand in hand with being a studio artist; but as movements come and go, the work will continue to develop.
How did it all start ?
Like many practicing artists I’ve been singularly art-focused since I was a toddler, with my problem-solving strategies developing around the question of “as I move through life, how do I continue making the work I want to make?” I developed the practice over the years, went to the Savannah College of Art and Design, earned a BFA and went to work as an illustrator almost immediately. I didn’t so much enjoy being an illustrator, and after I left a 3-year illustration job in Norway I spent some time living in Melbourne, Australia where I was inducted into the practice of urban contemporary art. The movement was really gaining its ground at the time and I found painting on the street to be an interesting challenge; I met a lot of really wonderful, supportive people, and that’s when I really felt like I was coming home to what made me happy as an artist. I’ve been working at it ever since.
What kind of music do you like ?
I tend to like music with laid-back electronic and organic elements, R&B and soulful elements, etc. Anything that I can just blend into when I’m working. These days I’m really enjoying vocalists like Kevin Garrett and Nick Hakim.
What inspires you in your artwork ?
Right now I’m endlessly inspired by the human form, particularly as it represents itself through dancing. I draw my source material from the local dance community in North Carolina; observing dancers at work can be a case study in all of these very nuanced interactions. I consider the dance floor a fantastic microcosm in which one can observe a very deep aspect of human connection, one that explores trust, boundaries, and connections; and the exquisite potential of the human body to move through space. I do my best in my work to convey that level of emotion, perhaps in a way that is not immediately tangible but leaves the viewer with a feeling. Whatever that feeling may be.
My penchant for bright, unexpected colors developed after I was exposed to the expansive palette afforded to me through aerosol cans while painting in urban environments, and of course I draw inspiration from the physicality and immediacy of urban art, which I think translates to my studio work as well. I think the work winds up fitting somewhere in between fine art and urban, though never quite comfortably within a single genre.
Do you have specific message in your artwork ?
I think the most meaningful thing you can do as an artist is to be open and authentic, to be able to say “this is what it looks like when I lay bare the secrets of my soul.” There’s an element of myself in every piece that I make, which forces a certain vulnerability that is otherwise quite hard to reach. Once you are keyed into that power, though, you can empower those who view your work to connect with who they are. I hope my work invites the viewer to connect with themselves in some deeper way, creating questions and answers in the way they respond to the piece – whether they’re drawn to it or turned off by it. My work is as much a celebration of you as it is of me; it’s a celebration of the spirit. I speak to an experience which is universal; we all occupy this coalescence of matter, roughly the same shape and configuration, and move through space by the same physical laws. That’s what fascinates me so much about dancing, which is the physical experience that provides me the most inspiration. It provides a universally recognizable visual language for that which can not be articulated, only felt. The work aims to capture the emotive essence of the human spirit, as the act of dance does so exquisitely. If I can at least have faith in what I have made, that it has meaning to me and whoever has seen it, then I’ve done well.
Are you only painting murals ?
No; murals only comprise a percentage of the work I’m doing right now, although their popularity certainly gives me an advantage. Right now a lot of my contract work comes in the form of murals, but I try to keep an even balance between murals and studio work. There are big differences between the two, both in terms of the output itself and the physical requirements involved. Murals are so much fun but can be very physically taxing; it’s nice to have time in the studio to balance it out, although it’s better for the mind to get out into the elements every now and again. I’ll spend a few months in the studio, and then right about the time the cabin fever hits, the mural jobs start coming back in. So it’s a good contrast.
Tell us about your specific technique of painting ?
I mix brush and acrylic or latex with spray paint techniques on both my murals and my canvases; though the technique winds up producing a slightly different result due to the differences between the two environments. Right now I’m still practicing getting a consistent result between wall and canvas, though I quite enjoy the problem solving that mural painting requires, and the surprises that arise at a result. I’ll make a comp or a sketch using photos that I’ve taken or drawings that I’ve made from those photos; translate it to the wall using free grid technique or, if it’s a canvas, trace and transfer; and then start painting. I normally like to start loose with an underpainting and build up the forms until I’m satisfied with them, using spray cans both as a textural tool and as drawing instrument to render the forms.
Do you admire one or more artists ? And who ?
I admire nearly every one of my peers for different reasons. There are so many artists making such terrific and inspiring work, it’s very hard to name specifics. Right now I’m really interested the work of in Sebas Velasco, Phil Hale, and Erik Jones.
Where did you paint ? countries ? cities ?
I’ve painted in Australia, Berlin, San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit, Richmond… it’s an ongoing checklist.
Is there any cities that inspire you ? Or a dream to paint in one specific place ?
I’ll go anywhere I’m invited, and I look forward to continued opportunities to paint all over the world. I’ve particularly wanted to go back and paint in Oslo ever since I left. Hit me up.
Passions apart of art ?
Aside from work I enjoy playing around with musical instruments, although you’ll never hear it. It’s more of a therapeutic thing. I like to spend time with loved ones, just horsing around, talking, playing music, focusing on the small joys of day-to-day living.
Do you have projects in the next few month ?
There are some promising offers coming through right now, but while I wait for those bigger projects to solidify I’m working on a few private commissions to generate some income; after that I’ll be preparing some new canvases to show locally here in Raleigh.
What is your favorite artwork ? Yours and another artist .
My favorite artwork is always the next one that I’m going to do.
Thank’s a lot Taylor. Hope you’ll be in Europe soon.
Taylor White Artwork:
All photos by courtesy of Taylor White