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Cbabi Bayoc Interview

Cbabi Bayoc
Representing: St. Louis, Missouri
Birthplace: Fort Dix, New Jersey
Current Project: The Bayoc Studio

When the Violator 2 compilation is released next month, take a good look at the cover. Those funky caricatures were drawn by this man here Cbabi Bayoc.

Living in St. Louis, Missouri, he grabs a drawing pad, some inks and proceeds to create dead-on illustrations of music artists and movie stars that jump off the page. He also does sketches and paintings, that, let's say, float with a vibe called soulful.
The method behind the madness? Love. A love for the arts. A love for that feeling that you get when you're doing something you feel you were born to do.

As far back as I can remember.. I remember drawing Care Bears, Underdog and the entire Peanut Gang.

Was anyone else in your family artistic? My dad had skills, but unfortunately he gave them up before I came along. Like most people art didn't make its way into his life. He had a thing for drawing trees and as of late I developed a severe passion in that same area. I'm looking for a way to share that passion with an audience that has followed my figurative and musical themes.

Some people are born with a gift, they have a calling, be it music or to flip burgers, is art something that you feel you must do? You said it perfectly. I know and understand that this is a gift that God blessed me with and I intend to share that understanding to the fullest. At this moment I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Everyday I long to draw or paint.

Who went down to mall to pick up that first set of creative tools for you.. and what were they? My first tools of the trade were free pencils and computer paper from my mom's job.

What colors define your personality? Blue, black, and orange. Blue because I love jazz and other laid-back activities. Black because I am big into pen and ink, graphite drawings, and black and white photography. And orange because I occasionally get excited about things.

Some of my best memories as a kid would have to include eating cereal on Saturday morning and watching cartoons. What were or I should say, what are, because you never stop loving the good stuff.. What are your favorite cartoons? Smurfs, Snorks, Fat Albert (OF COURSE!), Tom and Jerry, Underdog, Woody Woodpecker, Batman and Robin, Spiderman, The Jetsons.... and man I can feel some others, but can't remember the names.

Did watching cartoons drive you further into drawing? Not really. I wasn't one of those kids that found their calling when they were younger.

There are stacks of books, dating back to the beginning of the century, that detail art theory the basics behind the craft. Did you go to school to learn these disciplines? No. Unfortunately, I didn't pay that much attention. I wish I had, because I truly appreciate the value in good design and penmanship. And I wish I had the mental documentation to communicate what I see when I look at good work.

Is art theory essential for an artist to learn in order to develop his skills? I don't think so. There are many a self-taught artist that have blown my mind.

Who are some of the artists that make you say yeah, that's ahite...that's hot! Maurice Evans, Paul Goodnight, Elizabeth Catlet, John Biggers, Charles White, Ernie Barnes (he did all the art for "Good Times"), and myself at times.

You went to school at Grambling University. What did you major in? I received a Liberal Arts degree in Art with a specialty in drawing and painting. Grambling did have a fine arts degree. The art department was not accredited, therefore not given the recognition or status of say some other school. It was kind of like just a school with an art department.

When you graduated how did you go about finding work? I didn't. My lazy ass stayed right there in my closet-sized apartment and survived by means beyond my recognition. Luckily in 1996 (a year later), I was commissioned to do a mural in St. Louis (where I was from), and I decided to head back for good. Unfortunately, the mural never made it, but I was meant to leave. I wasn't doing a thing down there, but wasting away.

Who was your first client and what other companies have you worked with? I went on a trip to Washington DC with two of my teachers, Ricky Calloway and Larry Holston, to visit Ricky's agent. While we were there, two of the agents clients found interest in a drawing I brought with me, and I made about two hundred dollars. I knew from there that it was on, and that, that was a feeling I wanted to happen more often. As of late, I've had the privilege of working with Coca-Cola, Prince, Universal/Def Jam, New Line Cinema, and several magazines to name a few. I've been blessed.

Art vs. Money: people who make their living using their creative talents seem to always come to a point in their careers where they have to make a choice between the two.. Have you come to that point and if so, was it a hard decision? I've always stuck with the art, and most of it is due to a super supportive wife. Even when we've had to use our last coins to purchase beans. She's encouraged me to wait it out and do my thing. And fortunately, we are about to start our publishing company and will be online in a month.

I see you've done pieces featuring Busta Rhymes, Snoop, Morgan Freeman is their something about a person's face that inspires you to create something or were those commissioned works? That's how it works. The photos almost always choose me and beg me for a little enhancement. So naturally I oblige them. But most of what I have done has been for fun. I am going to have a HUGE show in New York in the near future with my caricatures as the theme. Keep an ear open.

I should have asked this earlier.. what do you use to create the pieces' paint, inks, pencils? I use primarily graphite, pen and ink, and acrylic. I used to work in oil but got tired of the fumes and the drying time. I like to work fast, and acrylic dries while your painting. I also dabble with pastels (chalk) every now and then.
You did the album cover for the Violator compilation, are you going to do more work like that, because I saw a picture of Lauryn Hill you did that would look really good sitting on the rack of a record store. I'm working on volume two of the Violator crew. I would like to do more covers. But I am really interested in doing commissioned black and white caricatures for the stars themselves. That is one of my ultimate goals.

You've also done some work with Prince? He has purchased eight of my originals.

How do you pronounce your name? Kuh Bobby

Is that your real name or is it an acronym....What do the letters stand for? It's both my legal / real name and an acronym. Cbabi stands for Creative Black Artist Battling Ignorance and Bayoc stands for Blessed African Youth Of Creativity.

That's a perfect way to end this interview we'll leave it right here, on a positive note. Thanks for talking with us today. And I'll look out for that New York show.

I enjoyed it. Peace. - June 2001