When I was 19 and working with a 26 yr old black independent Graphic Designer, Franklin Mayfield of Mayfield 3 Design, I was learning on the job how to apply vinyl graphics to windows, large vehicles, hand painting letters on school buses and learning how to cut Rubylith film for acetate overlays for ads and custom TeeShirts. The 1st Batman movie was out and he designed a knockoff "Blackman" shirt which was very popular for a year.
During this time my friend Steven Walker and I had formed S.A.M.P.L.E. and needed something to help generate money for our events and promote our group. A popular song 'Brothas Gonna Work It Out" by the group Public Enemy was the inspiration behind the phrase "I'm Gonna Work It Out" on my 1st original TeeShirt design.
The design was a shackled slave arm with a broken chain busting through the earth with our SUN logo (which would appear in other works) in the middle of North America.
I drew and hand cut with an Exacto knife everything that you see on the shirt, bought the shirts and communicated with the printer what and how I wanted the design to appear on the shirt. I also set up a commission deal with a local retailer, Artistic Apparel to sell the shirts.. I was later surprised to see it appear on the BET channel in a music video.
My earlier work was racially and socially charged but I didn't want to be an "angry Artist" and possibly alienate future opportunities. A few years later in Jamaica Queens when I applied to work in a black owned print/art shop, the lady looked at my work and said that it wasn't "black enough" and that I had to "go down into the Village with the white folks" even though I had an awesome multi-layer Malcolm X design in my portfolio.
This really upset me. I decided not to limit my creative expression and whoever likes my work, that's who it's for.
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