Milton Glaser, Willie Cole, and Cope2 all have one thing in common; they grew up in the Bronx.
For decades the Bronx has cultivated revolutionary artists that redefine what we call the “norm.” Continuing that tradition is another Bronx prodigy, a young man who goes by the name Na’gee Ray.
With all the success coming from the Bronx, Na’gee still had to start from the bottom when it came to this art game. He told us about his upbringing,
“Growing up in the Bronx helped me create something out of nothing. I did not learn art in the traditional way. Without any guidance I had to come up with my own style and master skills that I had no concept of.”
A multi-talented individual, Na’gee knew it was up to him to make his dream of sharing his perspective of the world with the masses a reality, however, the road to success was not easy.
Support for his art during his early years was non-existent as his family even encouraged him to take up another hobby. With all the doubters and naysayers, Na’gee was still determined to follow his dream. In his own words,
“Ignorance helped me develop my art because I became my own artist without much influence from the outside world. I didn’t have much to work with when it came to supplies, so I learned to make art with what I had. The way I use color pencils is a prime example of using what I had. Not many artists use color pencils as their medium, but that was the only thing that I could afford. Making due with what I had made a huge impact on my art until this day.”
His perseverance got the attention of his high school art teacher Miranda Small, who can only be described as an Art Encyclopedia.
She taught him everything there is to know when it came to art. For us non-art folk that means complicated ideas like color theory, texture, and spacing.
After several years establishing himself as an artist, Na’gee knew it was time to transform his artistry into a unique portrayal of himself in the art world, but in order to do this he gathered inspiration from an unlikely source.
“Growing up I always had a deep fascination with cartoons. I always believed that they lived just like us, but in another reality. That fascination turned into art, and was very influential to my art at the time.”
Na’gee focused on creating beauty out of obscurity by infusing his childhood memories and his newfound skills together. The result was an original style of art that showed love to the shows that raised ’90s kids called “Coolism.”
Na’gee began to pull influences from other visual outlets like film. His love for cinematography made him ponder for hours on how to make his art look like organic symmetry.
Cinematography that focuses on making objects easily dissectible and visually parallel led Na’gee to film director Wes Anderson. You can see Wes Anderson’s influence in Na’gee’s limited use of space and exploration of organic symmetry in his artwork.
Na’gee’s motivation to be the best that’s ever picked up a pencil doesn’t come from the same place as Kobe Bryant’s competitive pursuit of greatness. Instead it comes from an unlikely place,
“Love. I love to love. I use that energy in my art. My art reflects how I feel. I articulate my words through the visual representations that I draw.”
So what’s next for the rising star? More work. In the short term, Na’gee promises new work and another gallery show in the fall. Na’gee’s longer term goal is to travel the world sketching animals in their natural habitats.
All inspiration for the idea goes to his childhood hero, Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. Like Steve Irwin, Na’gee wants to continue inspiring the youth by finding his own truth in the art game. Na’gee did have a few parting words for any inspiring Artist out there,
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for a Spider is chaos for the Fly.”