Tristan Art | Creative | Celebrity Art Designer | Teacher
When did you discover your gift of creativity?
I've always been creative, but I think the discovery part came when I was down and almost lost hope. I spent most of my days sleeping and just watching time pass. At the time, I had no money, phone, or clothes and I was sleeping on the floor in a relative’s apartment. I had to find a way to be creative and not just grow old wishing I tried to pursue my dreams when I was younger. I always tell people art saved my life.
At what point did you start to create custom pieces of art (cell phones cases and canvases) for NBA (Lebron James, Kevin Durant), NFL (Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown), and Music (Nicki Minaj, Monica) superstars?
It took me roughly 8 months or so before any athlete or celebrity contacted me about work. From there, the rest is history. I've been doing business officially for 6 years now, so I'm used to it. I usually have two or three celebrities contact me per week. Sometimes I get random texts from celebs that I’ve never switched contacts with so that's different.
The artwork that you present takes a life of its own with the various usage of colors and realistic structure points. Is there a rigid process that you adhere to with each design, or is it more freehand?
Great question. Every design is pretty much freehand. All my canvases are drawn from scratch (freehand) and all my cases are done on a computer. I draw the design first, then use the computer to apply the colors and get the proper layout for the case I’m manufacturing. Also, when I work, I only listen to three artists and that's Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Musiq Soulchild. I won't work if I’m not listening to these three. That's part of my routine.
What's the inspiration behind your fashion line, Dead Teddy?
That's simple. The answer is Love. If you notice, the bears heart has been through a lot, but it's still intact. No matter what I’ve been through, I still always find a way to show love. That's symbolism of my life. I'm not saying a girl broke my heart and I came up with that design, but I feel like all people can relate to the imagery. People who may not reach certain goals may feel heartbreak or despair but continue to move forward. That's how I pretty much came up with that.
Alongside your artwork, you also teach entrepreneurship classes in the city of Baltimore to youth from low-income housing? With gentrification and systematic oppression affecting these areas, what changes have you witnessed because of your teachings?
Honestly, I always had the thought in my mind that the youth wanted to learn. They just needed to look at something or someone who they can believe in. The kids that I've had the honor of teaching are brilliant. I keep in touch with them as well. They think it's cool to learn and don't look at being smart as a bad thing. In certain areas people make you feel bad or uncool for wanting to be smart or do things to better yourself. I've learned that they want to be great. They just need someone who'll listen to their ideas and let them know anything is obtainable with the right work and resources.