For those who are not yet aware, Instagram has created a rather popular way for artists to gain recognition (not surprisingly, since Instagram is based solely on photos, as opposed to Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Craig C tha Artist, known by many for his vibrant and unique style of urban art, introduced me to the world of Instagram art. He is great at what he does and, therefore, was naturally my first choice to be featured artist. I spoke with Craig on the phone and learned a bit about his background and the forces that drive his hands.
CL: So can you tell us a little bit about where you’re from?
Craig C: I was born and raised in southwest Houston, Texas. I do a little traveling here and there but for the most part I’m from Houston.
CL: Right now, are you a full-time artist?
Craig C: Yes I am.
CL: That’s fantastic. It must be great doing it as a profession, yeah?
Craig C: Oh yeah, definitely is. I’m enjoying it.
CL: Absolutely. I want to talk a little bit about your work. It seems that a lot of it has plenty of musical influence. Does music influence your art at all?
Craig C: Oh it definitely does. All genres of music. It could be from hip-hop to R&B, a little bit of classical, a little bit of blues. Just whatever’s playing at the moment, that’s what I’m jammin.
CL: Absolutely, and is it something that sort of drives your creativity,or is this something that sort of “energizes” you? How exactly does it influence your art?
Craig C: Actually, little bit of BOTH. Say I’m jammin’for example KRS-One or Rakim. Music like that, old-school hip-hop, I think of loud colors, like real vibrant colors, because I think about graffiti. I can think of movement, to where the lines look like those of break dancers. That’s why look at my paintbrush, or like my pencil, as a break dancer, and I try to move my hand, Just how a breaker moves like how he does his pops, stuff like that.
CL: You use a lot of different mediums, different styles. Is there one that you particularly enjoy?
Craig C: Yeah, I would definitely say acrylic paint. I can manipulate it in so many ways and with the drying time not being so long, it doesn’t take nearly as long to dry as using oil paint.
CL: So, some of my favorite pieces of yours that you do every so often are the transit sketches. Are those on the spot? Or how does that process go?
Craig C: Well, for the most part, they’re definitely on the spot. If I’m on the train, or if I’m on the bus, or for maybe just at a restaurant, and I see a person who as a unique face or unique pose, then I just want to sketch then and there. In a hurry, I’ll take a picture of them. Then, once I get back, I’ll go ahead and draw it out, sketch it, add color to it, stuff like that. Some people actually don’t like me sketching or drawing them, so I’ll have to either sneak a picture, or ask if it’s okay for me to take the picture. Most people actually don’t trip off of me doing it like that, because when they see it, they see the drawing and they’ll be like “Wow, it’s actually me! Thank you!” you know? They never had anybody sketch them out before. It’s like a win on both sides. It’s like I get the chance to do the art, and I get the chance to show them!
CL: So how long have you been into this whole art scene?
Craig C: Actually, man that went back. High school, but I didn’t get into it serious until college. A friend of mine that was in the dorms with me used to see my looseleaf sketches or whatever that I used to leave around, and he used to tell me, “Hey man you got talent you need to do something with that!” I was like “Man,go home with that! I don’t got time for that.” But he’d be like “Naw man, you really could do something with this. I could see it being in museums, so why don’t you just try and pick it professionally.” As time went on, I just starting doing tattoo designs for people in the dorm. Not doing the actual tattoo, but just the design. If they had an idea, and then I’d do it, and then I’d just give it to them or whatever and then they could just put them on ’em. college, I just started going to museums more and just doing research on my own, not really having anybody to guide me in the right direction. Just kinda doing it on my own, learning about different artists like Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and later on through the years I started looking at more Stephen Bagnell stuff. And a whole lot of practice. Trial & error and growth, stuff like that.
CL: So you weren’t originally in school for art?
Craig C: Actually, I started going to school for computer animation, but I found myself really not liking the photoshop side of it. I really like the more traditional side of it. Something about picking up a paintbrush or pencil. I mean I’m sure I can get myself a digital pencil or pen, now that they got ’em out, but at that time they didn’t have ’em. So I’m just trying to do it on Photoshop, trying to make my actual sketches come out the way I see it. But I was like naw man, I gotta keep doing this with traditional art– there’s something about picking up the paintbrush and adding the strokes to it, the lines..
CL: Totally, man. Well it’s been great talking to you. By the way, there will a couple hundred strangers out there reading this. Any words out to them? Maybe some aspiring artists?
Craig C: Yeah, I would tell them to continue to keep pushing whatever you wanna do. Whether it’s your dream, whether it’s your goal, go ahead and do it. Focus on it. Don’t let nobody stop you from doing whatever you wanna do. Just go ahead and make it happen. Just continue to keep your hands moving. Live big, man, and live your dream.
Check out @craigcthaartist on Instagram for more art, and don’t forget to follow him on Twitter at
Photo Source: @craigcthaartist on Instagram