RVA Spotlight: Malik Radford
When I first got to VCU, I followed a lot of fellow students on Twitter and Instagram as a way to get to meet new people. One of those people was Malik Radford, who made a lot of funny tweets as well as some dope drawings. He started selling cartoon stickers of different Hip-Hop artists, which I bought 3 of and still have on my laptop to this day. Malik and I became friends after that and since our freshman year of college, his art and technical skills have improved tremendously. Not to mention, he has gotten a lot of attention and following on social media. For those reasons, I reached out to him and conducted an interview to get a feel for how he thinks he has grown as well as some of his experiences as an artist.
Kameron: Tell me about yourself.
Malik: I’m a 20-year-old VCU student majoring in Kinetic Imaging, which is pretty much animation, video and sound put together. I’m actually going to switch my major to Comm. Arts, which is a lot of drawing rather than animated stuff.
K: What made you want to switch?
M: I like illustration but I felt if I majored in something I enjoyed, then I would end up hating it because if I’m forced to do certain drawings it wouldn’t be as enjoyable. I ended up choosing KI (Kinetic Imaging) to learn something new and now that I’ve learned it I’m ready to major in something I want to major in.
K: How would you describe your artistic style?
M: People have told me that they see “cartoony graphic stuff” and a lot of my subject matter has to do with pop culture, music and comics
K: How did the (Henrico High School) Center for the Arts help you improve?
M: I give 98% of my artistic success to the Center for the Arts. It’s helped me so much as far as how to carry myself as an artist, technical drawing skills, how to see things and just overall prepared me for VCU.
K: Who are some artists who’ve influenced you?
M: Earl Mack, VCU alumnus, because we met, worked on a couple things together and our styles are really similar. The other is Nuri Durr who was the one who really got me into using markers.
K: What was it like to be featured in VCU’s paper? (For “Pink + White” drawing)
M: It was really cool because it was unexpected. Someone just hit me up but they didn’t tell me they were doing it for the paper until I got there. It was just really exciting and actually seeing it in the paper was awesome.
K: Speaking of that, your Frank Ocean drawing blew up on Twitter so tell me about why you drew it and your reaction to the attention it got.
M: Well I drew it because the album had just come out and I was bored. I finished it in about 4 hours and I didn’t expect it to get any attention but it blew up and I was like “Ohhhhhh s%&t!”. I was really hoping I would make a lot of money from people buying the prints but the sales didn’t really match the Twitter attention. (GO BUY SOME OF HIS PRINTS! Link to his website is below)
K: What is your opinion on the Richmond art scene?
M: It’s on the come up. I’ve been thinking about it how to get more involved but the artists that I know who are involved are making a lot of noise. I want to work with some other artists on some projects and maybe make a mural with them over the summer.
K: You have some abstract pieces, such as “Artistic Vision” and “Truth”. How do you come up with pieces like that and what are their meanings?
M: Artistic Vision started as a doodle in class and as the drawing started coming along I eventually came up with the title. I look at it as kind of a self-portrait. I’m really into space and how infinite it is so I tie it into endless possibilities. Hands, which are in a lot of my drawings, are big to me because they literally do everything and I view them as tools for creativity. The eye in the brain represents the “Third Eye” which is the vision for the art because I see it in my head. As far as Truth goes, my mom always told me “If you ever want to keep something from someone then put it in a book” which influenced it and I was thinking “If you want the truth then go to a book” and the light bulb represents having an idea of the truth.
K: Give me a situation when someone doubting you inspired a piece.
M: I haven’t run into anyone that truly hates my work but I deal with a lot of self-doubt especially for projects I’ve never done before. For example, I illustrated a children’s book and I wasn’t sure how to illustrate it or if the author was going to like the illustrations but it just happened and worked out. A lot of times I doubt myself to prove myself wrong in a positive way.
K: If you could hang out with a celebrity for a day who would it be and why?
M: Tyler, The Creator because he’s just dope. I remember reading an article on his Golf Media App freshman year and he was talking about if you want to do something just go do it. Like he said he wanted a McLaren, so he went and bought one. So I thought “I want to be successful off of my work, so I’m gonna make it happen”
K: Since we’re talking about Tyler, tell me about the whole situation with the stickers.
M: Yeah it was freshman year and I was making stickers of different Hip-Hop artists and he was The National for a concert. I decided to take a bag of the stickers with me and I was in the front so I threw the bag on stage. They landed behind an amp so I got Jasper’s (Tyler, The Creator’s friend on stage with him) attention and he picked them up and gave them to Tyler. Tyler didn’t really say anything about them and just put them in his pocket. Later he threw a few to fans from his tour bus but I tweeted at him and asked if he liked them, which he did. It didn’t exactly go how I wanted but the fact that he acknowledged me on Twitter was dope.
K: If I gave you a blank canvas and told you to draw your perspective of VCU what would it look like?
M: It would probably be an aerial view from Harris Hall looking towards the ram horns. There would be the Richmond skyline in the background, the sky would be a soft yellow since it’s our color and students everywhere.
K: What’s your dream project?
M: I just want someone famous to commission me. I don’t care how big or how small I just want someone well known to be like, “Hey Malik, I want you to draw this for me”
K: Give me a real life situation that inspired a piece you did
M: The Traphouse 4 piece with me and my roommates. It was inspired by the fact that we had just moved into our own place. When we moved in there was this rubber duck there but we had no idea where it came from. We started taking it and putting it in random spots around the house and whoever found it would have to move it somewhere else, which is why the one guy has a yellow hand that says “quack”.
K: What is your professional goal?
M: I want to work for Adult Swim either as a writer or a character designer or a Fine Illustrator making money strictly from my pieces and have them displayed in gallery shows and stuff.
K: What are some of your weakness and how do you plan on improving them?
M: I want to work on my technical skills such as perspective and proportions for bodies. I’m taking a life drawing class, which should help with that. I’ve also noticed I complain about the slightest things in my work so I’m working on holding my tongue and letting the drawing happen. I know I don’t make horrible drawings because of people like them but I never feel like they’re that great. I also need to get better at accepting help because I always feel like I can work my way through whatever problem I’m having in the piece. So I need to be more willing to ask people for advice on how to improve as an artist.
K: What are you most excited about with being featured on UD?
M: The networking and possibilities. I really like what y’all are doing as far as targeting people our age because sometimes I overlook some up and coming artists and UD is a good way of putting them out there. Obviously, y’all promoting my work is exciting too.
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