NYC artist Tarik Mendes reveals the spirit of creativity as a sort of presence and how important being present is, for that matter… plus his latest work with wearable art company TelaModa, his dream projects, and more…
bunnyhawk >> Can you tell us about yourself? You’re in NYC?
TM >> I’m twenty two years old, born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil with origins from Lebanon. I’m an artist that works with various mediums – painting, sculpture, photography. I’m also an artist for TelaModa, a wearable art company. I’ve been in NYC now for two years pursuing my career as an artist. I love to travel, experience different cultures, go to museums and art galleries. It’s funny I think no one thinks about who they are until someone asks them… But throughout this interview everyone can get to know me on a deeper level.
bunnyhawk >> When and how did you start getting into art?
TM >> Since I can remember I’ve been painting, drawing and creating. Always drawing on myself, the walls or anything I could get my hands on. I never liked toys as a child, always wanted to create things to play with. Then as I got older, I begin to paint more and more but didn’t think I could pursue it as a career so I went to college for business. In my junior year, I decided to dropout and move to New York City.
bunnyhawk >> How has your Brazilian/Lebanese background shaped your identity and work?
TM >> It has shaped me in many different ways because they’re both so different – so it always had me curious to learn more about other people and the world. Most importantly it taught me to never judge anyone, because growing up I was never Brazilian enough or Lebanese enough, just by people assuming things. I’ve been able to adapt various parts of both cultures into my work and life.
bunnyhawk >> What is your creative process like?
TM >> I always walk around with my camera and a small notepad to write down ideas or sketch. I heavily believe that creativity is like a presence, a spirit that you have to cherish – because any moment it can be gone if it feels I’m not taking it seriously. So whenever I have an idea I try to get it down as soon as I can… if I don’t, I most likely won’t remember and it will pass through me and go to somebody else. I happen to be the most creative when I’m depressed – I don’t think creativity gets along with happiness.
bunnyhawk >> Your creative heros?
TM >> I really like Sandro Botticelli, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Donald Judd and Marcia Grostein. Outside of the art world I’m a big fan of Eartha Kitt, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Cassia Eller, Malcom X and Rumi.
bunnyhawk >> What inspires you?
TM >> I’m inspired by everything around. I try to be present at all times, and focused on my surroundings. I walk around NYC with no phone – just a small notepad, and I observe the present. Having conversations with lots of different people inspires me, because I feel I absorb their energies and sense certain emotions I haven’t before. I think inspiration is something that finds you instead of you finding it.
bunnyhawk >> Why art?
TM >> Why not? I think to be an artist is something that you’re born with, something in your DNA – not something you can go to school to attain. I encourage everyone to paint and to do artistic things to get in touch with their inner selves and emotions. But in my opinion, a true artist is someone that makes art because they need to, have to, and if they couldn’t make it – they’d rather die. This sounds dramatic but it really does feel like that – if I can’t create I feel like there’s no point, like what is there to do really.
bunnyhawk >> What other experiences have yielded pivotal life lessons for you?
TM >> I’m very thankful for every experience I’ve had because I use these for subjects in my art work. The most important life lessons were to never pursue something because I thought I should do it or it was expected of me. Never to suppress my emotions, instead to understand what I’m feeling at the moment and reflect on it. Also to never do anything because of money, and sacrifice my own happiness.
bunnyhawk >> What’s your dream project?
TM >> I’ve always wanted to give back by having an after school program for young adults where they could go to and express themselves with art. Art is often overlooked and seen as something unnecessary at schools – and lots of school programs are being cut. I think art is a spiritual experience and it’s very important for young adults to have a healthy habit, and to feel understood. Also for them to have a safe space to go to where they can express themselves.
bunnyhawk >> Do you have a favorite memory from nature?
TM >> When I was a child living in Brazil, I would go to our house in the country every weekend… and eventually my sister and I got a horse. Luckily for me, she wasn’t a outdoor person – so I got to ride all the time – some of my best memories were having “adventures” with my horse, and being in touch with nature.
bunnyhawk >> Can you tell us about your fantastic piece called Under The Sea, with the pair fishing, lines entwined, and their world below?
TM >> That painting was the second I made since I moved to NYC – it was commentary piece about two people in a relationship – one of them isn’t meeting the other halfway because of their stubbornness. If you look closely one is further than the other with a longer fishline and smaller hat. They are both sitting on turtles, fishing in the ocean, and their fishing lines are entwined – meaning there are plenty of fish in the sea… but they only want each other. The one with a bigger hat represents stubbornness, and he’s much more distant than the other one. Behind him there are broken hearts to represent past experiences and heart break, so this painting is done with both subjects perspectives.
bunnyhawk >> What are you working on at the moment?
TM >> For almost a year I’ve been working with TelaModa, a wearable art company. I’ve been part of their visual team as well as painting various products from handbags to trench coats. TelaModa is a luxury brand creating true one of a kind wearable art, while empowering talented young artists. I’m really excited to be part of such an amazing team and loved working on the commercial. For the commercial they used part of my paintings and featured the bags that I painted for them on it. Besides working with TelaModa, I’ve been adding new material, artwork and features to my website which I launched mid September.