Behind the Art: Watson Mere
Welcome to the first of the Behind the Art series. A new section of my website dedicated to understanding the work that an artists puts in to creating. I'm kicking it off with an interview/ profile of Watson Mere (@artofmere_), an amazing artist who recently moved to New York City.
A few days ago had the privilege of conversing with one of my favourite artists, Watson Mere (@artofmere_), and we discussed the journey he went through as an artist. Although he is of Haitian decent, Mere grew up in South Florida where his artistry flourished at the tender age of two years old. "I had difficulties speaking until I was four," he relayed to me as we broke into the classic interview questions.
"The teachers at the school I was in taught me to draw as a means to communicate with people and express himself."
"I would draw comic book characters for fun because there wasn't anything else to do and the area where I grew up was little dangerous." Having grown up in a lower income household, Mere explained the role creating art played in his childhood. "My parents are first generation immigrants from Haiti, but I haven't been there since I was two. I want the first time I go back to be when I am able to appreciate the culture and be in a position to help", he justified.
"Telling a story", as he described his goal, "from my own experiences, there's a lot of hidden messages, references to the current situation of the world we live in. There's a lot of vibrant imagery from my Haitian background included as well." His art is generally centered around people of african decent in what I can recount as a celebration of people of varying cultures and communities with a preference to women.
"I want to portray people of the African Diaspora right now, so that people looking back from the future can know how we lived. Its important that we preserve our own narrative and make sure were represented in a way that people right now can relate to."
"I try not to create the same image over and over again, I want to find different and new ways to show our culture."
Some of my favourite pieces (attached below), are a testament to his talent and ability to convey such powerful messages within the confines of a single image.
Just shy of 38k followers on Instagram, Mere is now making a living off selling his vibrant prints online. "My work has also been featured in a gallery in Pennsylvania", he disclosed to me, which is where he was prior to his move to the city. Having had no formal training, Mere depends on his gut instincts and years of experience when attempting creating a new work of art. I was surprised to find out that he never intended on becoming an artist and had graduated with a business degree, only to realize he had no interest in the field professionally.
"Everyone was like, why go through the all the student debt from college just to change your mind and do something completely unrelated" he explained "but I do use the skills I got from my education everyday in terms of making my art a business."
Around 2010 is when he began to create work that people had interest in purchasing, but it wasn't until 2013 when he found his niche "After the George Zimmerman case concluded, and he was found not guilty I felt so angry. Something needed to be done." He divulged to me, "So I decided to devote my art into spreading the word, I feel like art is so powerful and I use it to combat the injustice."
Mere finds inspiration for his work from the people he is surrounded by, be that friends and family or complete strangers on the street. "Colors, seasons and what's actually going on in the world do play a big role in the creative process for me."
"Black women have a huge influence in my work! There needs to more art dedicated to appreciating them... I make this because appreciate them."
The "visions" which he told me he sees in his head, are usually the main idea and he typically spends the next three to four weeks working on making tangible art from them. References from tumblr and other online resources enable him to capture certain details like form and posture. Music, also plays a big role as he it gets him into the zone to create but also serves as an inspiration to make some of his work.
"If you don't have a vision in your head then you shouldn't do this, because that's what you're going to need to hold on to when things get a little rough and you feel like quitting." He declared, is the most valuable advice he can pass on to someone else who is interested in becoming an artist. "Don't worry about what people are saying, have faith in that vision and keep working on it"
"Work in silence. Don't broadcast what you're doing until you've actually done it."
He explained to me how these last few years have been the best of his life since he decided that being an artist was what he wanted. "These have been the most fulfilling years. I'm a lot more happy, I am free now that I know what my purpose is." Proving to me that following your heart and soul can be more rewarding than pursuing what "makes sense" or appears more lucrative.
What initially drew me to Mere's art while scrolling through instagram, was not just the proportionality and accuracy of the images he created, although that was definitely a plus. It was more about the way his art made me feel. Seeing these powerful black women in such a positive light resonated with my soul. I felt comfort, assurance and inspiration to see myself the way I saw these characters that Mere created.
His art is a true reflection of his personality and his views, through this interview I was learned so much about Mere as a person which provided a new layer of depth into his work that I appreciate so much. If you are interested in seeing or purchasing any of Watson Mere's work the following are the links to his website and his instagram page:
Instagram : @artofmere_
Website : www.artofmere.com
I just want to add a quick thanks to Watson Mere for being the first in the series and being so cooperative and sharing his journey.
Hope you enjoyed!