On March 26, I secured an interview with Serge Gay Jr., an all-around artist based in San Francisco.
Official bio below:
Serge Gay Jr. is a
When did you really decide on “Feeding your Juice?”
When I turned 30, it was like okay is this a clear path or what should I be doing? Having a graphic design background and illustration, I was trying to balance both. I’m like what’s going to pay the bills? What should I do? My best friends were working for Apple, Facebook, and Instagram, and here comes me saying, “I’m a full-time artist doing painting and freelance stuff.” I had to ask myself, “Ok, should I be doing this, because this is kinda hard.” It got to the point where I was applying for full-time jobs. But I had to ask myself, “Am I going to sacrifice my happiness for having such a small voice starting so low at Facebook?” Doing everything I had done for my career up to this point, where I’m not going to be happy but just for money’s sake. Or should I say, “Forget about this, just focus on my passion.” I eventually decided to tell myself, “You know what you like. Stick with your passion, and keep pushing it to the best of your abilities. And you’ll see your growth.”
When I was learning how to paint, I painted one thing, Tyra Banks. I was obsessed with her, and I wanted to paint her to the best of my abilities. This subconsciously helped me craft my skill as a painter. If you don’t have the obsession, you’ll never be the best at your craft, and will eventually lose your talent. I didn’t really realize this urgency until last year when I finally wanted to become the best painter.
When did you get into art?
I was painting as a kid, since the first grade.
As a kid though, I really wanted to work at Disney. Eventually, I got an internship there right after college for graphic design and was offered a full-time job. That never worked out, so I chose to paint while I looked for another job. Whatever the outcome was, I just knew I had to create.
When did you choose to get strictly into painting?
I never let them go; I just knew where my focus was. Even to this day, I’m waiting to hear back from a film audition. As I said, I always like to squeeze in as many projects as I can. Anything to keep me creative working on visual art to make me feel passionate.
When was your first major moment of accomplishment as an artist?
It was a couple of moments. The first was the music videos I was made with CeeLo Green and Train because they were like the two biggest songs of the year.
Why do you use stencils on your paintings?
It’s a way for me to bring looseness to my paintings. I wanted to break away from this cleanness of painting. Actually, my next series completely moves away from being finished and detailed. Part of this is to challenge yourself to be spontaneous.
Who are your favorite artists that inspire you?
Usually very avant-garde and weird artists. In general, I don’t really have a single favorite artist. I try to stay away from favorizing any kind of things because it puts you in a bubble.
What about art is worth it to you?
That I’ll feel like I’m going to die if I don’t do it. I really can’t see myself doing anything else other than art. I need to be painting at least once a week.
Advice for our community:
The number one thing is not caring what other people think. Don’t keep trying to seek validation. I should never feel like I’ve paid my dues since I don’t want to feel entitled to be known as a good artist. Once I let this need go, I could really focus just on my craft. Your art should be the best version of it to really capture someone’s eye.
Art should be an evolution so I don’t feel the need to work on the same genre or message all the time. Once I move on from a feeling, I want to create a new story that’s different than last time. That’s why I love music and fashion albums because they all have a unified theme. This is actually relevant for your collectors who’ve followed your story, since it makes them a part of your journey.
You really should focus just on one thing to be the best at it, whatever that might be. Everything else should come second.
One of my teachers made us destroy paintings that we worked all night on to teach us not to be too attached to our work. It’s great to let go of your work since it’s a part of the process. But everyone has their own process; sometimes an artist likes to get it just the first time.
[Editor: Finding your process is a part of the journey. Don’t cheat your journey by copying other’s.]
I think the biggest benefit of art college is teaching business skills. They give you the tools to elevate your skills, but you need to learn how to distribute and market your talent in the world. Branding your art scared off some of my friends from continuing that part of their life.
For the artists who have full-time jobs, I recommend putting aside a little time to focus on their craft. It doesn’t matter what you do and if it comes out good. You just need to keep working on your skills.