Interviews

Rasta Art – 5 Minutes with Artist, Geary Taylor

It only takes a casual perusal of painter Geary “Rasta” Taylor’s work collection to understand why it was not long after deciding to make is calling his career that word began to spread about the spread about the Tampa Dread who could translate any artistic vision suggested onto almost any medium presented.  Underground buzz grew to a cacophonious drum beat and soon order were coming in from all over the globe, not only young urban trendsetters, but high profile celebrities were all now were all clammoring for a Masterpiece from the Master. Somehow I managed to get five minutes with the busy a artist while he was preparing for the auction of his famed Bob Marley Chair at his Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida here what he had to say: 
 
 
1.     I have always held the belief that what separates a good artist from a great one is the ability to see almost anything as a potential “canvas”. How did you come to see shoes as yours?
          
Timing is everything and I guess it was my time to start painting shoes. I’d painted on anything and everything as a child and young adult and never thought of painting on a shoe until June 2007 when I was asked to do a pair for the 4th of July. Once I started, it was a wrap and it came very natural to me. I guess its because I’ve always loved shoes and art. I just wonder why I never thought of putting the two  together until so late in my life. I guess the time just wasn’t right til now. But shoes have become my favroite canvas to paint on  even more than female body art.                                                                                                                               
2.     You’ve been referred to as the Michaelangelo of shoes. How do you feel about that? 
 
 I’ve never painted a shoe on a ceiling before (laughs). No seriously, I’ve studied his writings and brushstrokes and love how hard he worked. He’s the greatest artist of all time. I’ve often thought,” wouldn’t it have been awesome to look up and see him painting  that ceiling back in the day or watch him sculpting” I push myself to even be half the artist/sculpture he was. It would’ve been cool to shake his hand or something you know. To be compared to him is an honor, but I really feel like I’ve got a long way to go still.                                                                                                 
 
3.     I understand that there is a great demand for your work. So much so that a pair of shoes recently commissioned by the esteemed Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida was recently stolen. Can you tell us a little more about that?
 
Well it wasn’t that recent, it was a few years back. The artwork was very special  to me because it was like I was painting with the spirit of Salvador Dali.  It was  like seeing the painting like he saw it. Anyway I think I matched the reproduction almost brushstroke for brushstroke, you had to see it to believe it. Those boots took me 20 hours to paint. And it was still worth it even though they are gone. The thief has not been caught. And we hope the boot will be returned some day.
 
4.    How did you become involved with the Museum?                                            
 
A friend of mine knew someone that worked at the museum and they heard about my desire to work with them. And if your going to do anything with the Dali museum you better come strong so I knew I had to put my best into that project.
 
 
5.    You have designed over 800 pairs of shoes for clients across the globe. Which shoe was your most memorable pair?
        
Of course, the Dali boots, and the black Nike Air Force “Bright Lights, Big City.” That was a shoe that was sold on E-bay and later copied by counterfeiters. What’s really funny, is I always say after every shoe I paint, “this is the best shoe I’ve ever done”.
 
6.    Now I consider myself a shoe-nista and so I am able to appreciate the work involved with a beautiful well designed pair of shoes. How familiar are you with the work of other talented “designers”? Like if I said, Jimmy Choo or Louboutins, would that mean anything to you? (laughs)
They are shoe designers, I am a shoe Artist. So, in some ways we are the same yet we are different.  I study different custom shoe artists around the world so I don’t duplicate anybody’s work or style, I study the top shoe designers or fashion designers to stay up on all of the new styles and trends of each season. I sometimes spend up to 10 hours on a day off just doing research. There’s alot more to painting and designing a shoe than most people think. I really enjoy the research and studying part of the process, it all pays off in the end. Because I feel like I am giving each customer something that no one else is  going to have.( And help them look better of course).  When I see something I really like it’s like I never forget it and I will lose sleep until I apply it to a project somehow somewhere.
7.  Now you initially began with shoes as a canvas but has since segued into other mediums.  Can you tell about some of the other things that you have done?
   
Lets just say there are many things, its hard to remember – here are a few, skateboards, hats, chairs, lighters, shirts, cameras, I-pod covers, luggage,Conch shells, motorcycles, bicycles, panties, and purses, cameras,walls basketballs, and just about anywhere paint will stick. Some say, “I put paint where it ain’t”. Each project brings a new challenge, and that’s part of the fun, Because I’m doing something different every day. I love what I do.
 
 8.  I have heard quite a bit about the famed Bob Marley and the Wailers chairs that were placed for auction recently. May I ask why Bob Marley and the Wailers?
I always like the message of, “Get up, Stand up” and the message of “Uprising” so maybe taking  a theme of people sitting down, I got people to stand up. And with Bob Marley I felt it was appropriate, And with a Bob Marley Chair, I always wanted one, and could never find one, so I created one. And I always knew, The bright colors, with Bob’s bright smile, my brush strokes, and all the bright colors, I knew it would be something awesome. I have done six Bob Marley chairs now.
 
9.  How did the Wailers come to sign the chairs and what was their reaction to your work?
    
I painted the chair, for our block party opening, of One of One Customs, a few days later I noticed on the concert marquee a few doors down, at a local concert venue, the Original Wailers Band was coming to St Pete. So, I went to their sound check, with the chair in hand, layed it next to the stage, and each band member, showed love and signed the chair, and what was also cool, was that none of them signed on the arm where Bob Marley’s name was painted, that showed respect.
 
10.  Rastafarianism appears to be an integral part of who you are and therefore your work. May I ask what led you to Rasta?
       
Loving God and  the postive way of life and non racist way of looking at people mixed with Black spirituallity is a good way to live for our people. Since all of the African parts are taken out of King James version of the Bible, I like how Rasta kinda kept the Africa in the Bible. Also I was raised in Nebraska, not knowing my original birth parents, and in a very multiracial community. In a Baptist household by two self-employed parents, with two sisters – discipline, education, and black pride were stressed daily. Sports, Art, and music became very important to me at a young age. When I learned about Rastafari , I realized I have been living Rastafari since I was born. Some laugh when I say that, but its not a joke to me.    
 
11.  Our readers would be surprised to know that you have an advanced degree in not painting or fine arts, but physical education. You also spent a number of years in sales.  When did you realized your passion for painting and how did you decide to make that your primary focus?
 
 I realized my passion for painting at 6 years old. My parents got me into gifted art classes from the age of 6 until I was 10 years old. Before that I was drawing my neighbors houses’ and selling the sketches. That’s when my parents realized  they should nurture my talents. I made it my focus after wasting so much time at unfullfilling career attempts. There is no headache, like the headache you get when you are at crappy job,  and you know you could excel at your own business with your talents Growing up with entrepreneurs as parents, having the desire to do the same, I always knew it was a matter of time.
 
12.   How do you compare your work to that of other Pop Artist like for instance Andy Warhol or some of the Japanese animae artists that are popular today?
 
As far as Andy Warhol is concerned, he’s an idol of mine definitely,  and when I think about him I feel its cool we both like to take young artists and teach them. I also think Andy and I, working with younger artists keeps us in touch with the pulse of the Art Community. As far as Japanese Animae Artists, I dont believe there is a comparison, they are on a whole other level compared to us “American Artists“. Those guys over there seem to show a disciplined Artistic work habits that produce art and styles that set standards, and I like that.
 
13.   You are considered to be a new trailblazer in the world of art. Do you see yourself possibly venturing into other art forms in the future?
  
Most definitly progressing into new forms of art is like almost a natural process as one grows. But I’d like to master a craft first, then tackle another. I don’t want to be a “jack of all trades but the master of none.” 
 
For more pictures on Geary Taylor’s work visit his website at http://www.1of1customs.com

 

About the author

KarenMitchell