An interview with artist Joi Cole

Artist Joi Cole, founder of Joi Cole Art, spoke to OyeDrum about her inspirations, artistic style, and what the future holds for her. Read her interview below and check out her work at @JoiColeArt!

What artists have influenced your style of work?
When I first pursued an art career I had no outside inspirations, even as I started developing my style. I mean, I really was experimenting and had no clue about anyone or anything art history related. I proclaimed to be completely self-inspired, and I still am. After developing my style and being exposed to more art, I feel as though I relate to Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney.

How does your background and/or identity inform your creative work?
I think my background really influences my work. I have really eccentric figures and lots of bright colors- it’s sort of an African-decendant style. Sometimes I create art and have no idea where it could possibly stem from and put the pieces together. much later. My favorite thing about my own art is that it’s universal and timeless. I usually try to keep my work is unclassifiable as I can.

How/why did you start using artwork as a pathway to activism?
Artwork and Activism for me always went hand-in-hand. My first ever art gig was creating award plaques for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. After that my gigs went in all kinds of directions, but it always came back to activism because I was homeless when I started my art career and so I started to shape my artwork in with whatever organization I was seeking help from. I listen to youth voices and try to instill motivation for change, and so I back my words up by providing visuals.

Now I live in New York City and its so fun to be an artist here! Currently I am curating my own chain of art exhibitions and providing space for artists just like me to display their work and connect. I am also working on my largest commission yet- a full set of wall/ceiling murals inside a historic apartment building.