Artist Spotlight: Kashmir Thompson
A modern day Jacob Lawrence, Annie Lee and Romare Bearden wrapped in one; Kashmir Thompson is an artist that was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Thompson has been drawing her entire life, but it wasn’t until 2015 that she really delved into her craft. I knew her work before I knew her, and chances are high that you’ve seen her work on your timelines and your dashboards or on red carpets sported by the likes of Spike Lee, Issa Rae and Angela Bassett. She siphons Black pop culture to paint on different mediums, and her work is Black, glorious and vibrant.
This all began with Thompson taking herself seriously as an artist, a relatable experience for most artists today that aren’t sure what it would mean for them to drop everything for their art. Luckily for Kashmir, it all worked out which isn’t a reality for many Black creatives and she acknowledges that it worked for her. She currently resides in Atlanta and has a shop where she sells her work. We discuss what inspires her art, her journey as an artist and what the role of the modern Black artist is.
Who or what informs/influences your art?
My art is mixed with a little bit of everything. Most times when I paint something, it's because it means a lot to me or had a big impact on my life growing up (I.e. Pop culture, Black culture). My art rarely reflects my current emotions, because I'm always trying to take people to a happy and fun place in my life with my art.
In your bio on your site, it says that you started taking your talents seriously in 2014; what changed when you started taking your artwork seriously?
In high school, my art was often put on the back burner because of school, and when I graduated high school, I immediately went into the retail workforce and put my art on the back burner again. It wasn't until I got let go from my job in 2014 that I decided to really try to make something of my art. And luckily for me, it worked.
Who are your favorite artists?
My favorite artists are McFresh, Kehinde Wiley, Keturah Ariel and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
When did you start getting attention as an artist?
How did it feel to see people like Issa Rae, Spike Lee, and Angela Bassett sporting your work?
It felt amazing! For all these people you've looked up to for so long to catch wind of who you are and what you do is just an incredible feeling.
Tell me about your creative process, what do you do before you paint a piece? Do you have any rituals or things that you need to do before you can put a new idea on paper?
I really don't have anything fancy or special I do before or while I paint. I most just make sure I have some good music on and go to town!
Aside from painting, do you have any other creative outlets?
I'm trying to get back into photography right now. It's something I've dabbled in before in high school but not as an adult. I also just started a new brand called Delish Condish where I homemade skin and hair care. I like getting creative with the recipes and branding for that.
What do you believe is the role of the modern day Black artist?
I believe your role as a Black artist is determined by what type of person you are. I don't think all Black artists have or should have the same goals/roles as it pertains to their art and our community. Some of us have roles to channel our social anger into our art, some of have roles to stay completely away from current events and social issues and create things so outside of the box that we're forced to step away from what's going on out here. It solely depends on you as a person.