When Travion Payne puts his imagination onto a canvas, he captures pieces of his soul in a way that speaks volumes about who he is while also reflecting on issues and emotions seen within the Black community.
He’s still very young in the art world, but his work demonstrates a finesse seen in some of the most experienced artists worldwide.
Travion shared with us what the root of inspiration is for him, including his knowledge of psychology and how the body communicates, and why it is so vital for young people of color to see themselves in art.
Where are you originally from, and what brought you to Los Angeles, CA?
Travion Payne: I’m originally from Houston, Texas, and I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my art career and other entertainment endeavors.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how any of that might show up in your artwork.
Travion Payne: There are a lot of factors that go into my art related to my upbringing. I was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in the hood, so I use things that I’ve learned or experienced from that, even the trauma.
I also incorporate my experiences growing up in the church and how that can be for some people. My art talks about mental illness within the Black community and how many Black people don’t seek help for it.
I feel like I explore specific topics that some artists are scared to tackle. I also went to college for psychology, so I’m able to apply certain concepts I learned in school through my art.
In my coursework, we talked about micro and macro facial expressions, cognition, how the mind works, and how body language speaks in a way that words can’t express. All those things show up in my art – you have to be able to catch it.
Are there any other artists or influences that serve as a personal inspiration for you?
Travion Payne: When it comes to the art business, I feel artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst lead the pack because they found ways to turn art into a lucrative business.
As for who I look up to, I admire Basquiat because he broke barriers within the art community. I also look up Kehinde Wiley because he’s also breaking barriers, and he’s still alive. Additionally, I admire the work of many Black women artists today because they are just amazing.
What does art mean to you?
Travion Payne: To me, art is a means to express how you feel in a format outside of words. Ironically, the saying “A picture speaks 1000 words” is relevant. You have to be able to analyze whatever art you’re looking at.
What goals do you want to reach through the impact of your work?
Travion Payne: The main reason why I create is that I feel like people of color don’t have influences they can look up to as successful artists who’ve turned their work into a career.
When you think about it, the most successful Black artist we know is Basquiat. People of all ethnicities recognize his work. I want to leave my mark in the art industry and become as notable as that or even more prominent.
Do you have any personal favorite pieces from your collection?
Travion Payne: I pride myself on all of my art because I put so much of myself into each piece, and I spend a lot of time creating each one. The one-piece that is the most personal to me is “Death of The Golden Child.”
If you were to give one piece of advice to anyone who wanted to pursue a similar career, what would you like to tell them?
Travion Payne: I would say, keep going, but to understand that it’s going to be very difficult. You have to be able to sacrifice a lot of your schedule because art takes time to create.
You’re also going to have to do other things that will pay your bills in the meantime while still pursuing your goals in the art world and continue striving to be greater.
If you can’t afford art classes, find free resources and even videos from YouTube that are always available. You can learn almost anything online these days, so it’s possible to train yourself and still be great.
How beneficial is it for youth to be introduced to art at an early age?
Travion Payne: Understanding the culture of art at a young age makes you want to learn more about it. When I was a kid, I used to go to art museums, but I didn’t see people that looked like me on the canvases.
When I took art history classes, I learned that many Black people were not given the opportunity to become artists and showcase their work.
I want to build and have the opportunity to display my work on the wall and so that young kids can experience it and know a Black artist created it.
They should be able to see images on those museums’ walls that reflect what they look like. That helps kids aspire to be just as big as I know I will be one day.