Aliya May

Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself? Age, other occupations, where you’re from, and some people you look up to?

A: “My name is Aliya May. I’m a 20-year-old, Atlanta native born around the Decatur area. I’m currently an art student attending Georgia State University. My primary occupation is school and I’m self-employed through means of my painting. I’d say as of right now there’s no one in particular that I look up to, but there are various artists across all platforms that inspire me to continue doing what I do.”

Q: Out of your art that was displayed last night, what's your favorite?  How did this piece come about? What materials did you use

A: “My personal favorite of my recent works would be my 5ft by 6ft piece titled ‘Forms Mental, Forms Material’. This piece came to me through something I wrote recently. It was an attempt at a poem that just turned into personal thoughts/ranting. The whole concept, although not entirely obvious, is interconnectedness. “Moving shapes and our relation to them.” This is a line from my poem. Moving shapes is a metaphor for the world and environment we perceive around us. I like to keep a pretty minimal style in my art, so all I used in the process was a roll of canvas, a few acrylic paints and an acrylic paint marker.”

Q: Based off you’re Instagram, I can’t find much info about you. You seem to be very low key, and mellow. Is that the persona you portray or is that just you? 

A: “It’s more so just who I am as a person. I do like to stay lowkey but not always. Growing up I was a pretty shy and quiet girl, and still am to a certain degree now. But not as much as before. I’ve just recently started being more interactive with my social media pages, and would like to let people get to know more about me as my career as a painter progresses.”  

Q: I also took the time to observe the materials you use in your photos. I see you use paper plates instead palettes. It’s a small detail, but it says a lot about who you are as an artist in my opinion. Some may say you need all these name brand supplies in order to create an actual masterpiece but to me that says a lot about how resourceful you are. 

A: “I’d agree to some extent. The expensive name brand art materials can be helpful to achieve the outcome you’re looking for, but for an any artists who just wants to create and express themselves regardless of what they have, you just gotta get it how you can! For those who have the vision it doesn’t matter what you use so as long as you get there, also being a college student- paper plates have been very useful!”  

Q: How did you know art was for you? Why art? 

A: “I went to a performing arts elementary school that offered art classes and programs for every grade. That’s really where my love for art began to blossom. I was able to experiment at a young age with it. As I grew older and began to branch out with other hobbies and tried to learn new skills, I always came back to art. It was a safe space and was so familiar to me, so I never let it go. Even behind the obvious of creating pretty pictures, the act of creating art is so beautiful to me. It’s beautiful to see each individual artist express themselves and articulate visually how they view the world around them. Art can be a very vulnerable thing to some. For those who pour themselves into their work and bear their soul, it’s all just very overwhelming and wonderful to me. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Q: Your art looks very original; do you have any inspirations or artist that you look to as a reference? Is there a certain mood you have to be in to create? Or a specific time of day...etc., because you work on a pretty large scale. I’m sure it takes you a while. 

A: “I’m inspired by various artists I may see or follow on Instagram, usually all abstract. I’m very much inspired by abstract art as it gives an alternative to the way life is typically perceived. To me it is truly your own interpretation of reality. One of my favorite painters is George Condo, I often look to his work to study his techniques and just to admire his overall thought process. I usually like to paint early in the day so that I can use the natural daylight to see. Additionally, I have most of the day to work on it. I don’t have to be in a specific mood to work, but it helps if I am freshly inspired or already have an idea I’ve been plotting on in my head or have sketched out.” 

Q: Do you finish your paintings in one session or multiples? 

A: “It varies for me. I typically like to finish a piece in one session, if I have all my ideas laid out on the canvas. However, if it’s more complex or I’ve hit a wall on what to move forward on, it could take days or a couple weeks for me to finally finish.“ 

 

Q: Do you practice any other forms of art on the side? What keeps you going as an artist? From what I know, sometimes artist experience artist droughts.  

 

A: “I casually take film photos on a point and shoot camera for fun, from time to time I do hand embroidery. I also like to sew and alter clothes for myself. What keeps me going as an Artist is just my desire to become more refined and to see my abilities grow and get better. There’s so much satisfaction from looking back on old work and then seeing where you are in the present and how you've gotten better. I’m very familiar with artists droughts. There will be periods for me where I’ll wake up and start painting prolifically every day, then suddenly I’m tapped out. I’ve learned to balance myself a little better so I’m continuously making something at a steady pace so that doesn’t happen, but sometimes you can’t help it and you just have to take a break. I always find that when I return from a break I've gotten a little better!”  

Q: Are there any issues you ever run into when it comes to creating? How do you go about solving them or getting around those obstacles? 

A: “Sometimes I’ll find myself in a rut where I can’t seem to come up with any concepts that I find interesting enough or even visually striking. At times I may not feel like painting, but during these moments I like to find some way to express myself if even in the smallest way just so I’m not doing nothing. If I find myself without inspiration I’ll listen to music, or look to some of my favorite artists to see what’s inspiring them and what new things they’re working on.”

Q: Any words of advice to a younger you or the next generation? 

A: “Regardless of what you want to do with your life, art or not, don’t ever stop. Do not be afraid to fail, do not be afraid to succeed (that is a thing) and stay as true to yourself as you possibly can along your journey. You only fail if you give up.”  

Q: Do you have any upcoming events or a next big painting you’re about to drop? 

A: “I regularly show my work at Studio No. 37, that provides a platform for multiple artists, not just visual. Aside from that I try to release work pretty often. I sometimes post videos of my processes on my Instagram page and the final result as well.”  

You can keep up with Aliya by following her on instagram at @aliyaslens