In the creative industry, anyone can be described as a “multi-hyphenate” these days, but as an artist, musician, photographer and model, Cavier Coleman is a true embodiment of the designation. But as comfortable as he is in front of or behind a camera, it is in the studio – creating art or music – that Cavier expresses himself.
Even though Cavier’s introduction to art came at a young age, from his art teacher mother, he was on a path to a career as a basketball player. A gifted athlete, he was awarded a scholarship to play the sport at college, until he was discovered by a model scout. At 19, Cavier embarked on a career as a model, which has seen him become a muse for brands such as Puma, Reebok and Bruno Magli, and travel around the world. One of the places Cavier visited was South Africa, where, inspired by the colors and visuals of his environment, he discovered a calling to begin making art again. Born in Detroit, Cavier, 32, now resides in New York and he credits both cities for imbuing his work with grit and urbanity.
Working with different media including oil paint, acrylic, ink, enamel and collage to create bold lines, vivid shapes and colorful characters, Cavier has developed a signature style that has often been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat, from whom he is more than willing to pick up the baton of renaissance artist but not emulate. Along with his art, Cavier is a keen storyteller, using his music to explore his emotions and reflect on the times.
Cavier is also a noted nature lover and describes himself as “hyper-sensitive to the environment.” He’s an ambassador for Project Zero, a movement by scientists and leading experts to combat the climate crisis we’re facing for which he has designed a line of T-shirts to raise awareness and generate revenue for the cause.
Fresh off his first solo exhibition at the Ed Varie gallery in New York, titled “Heaven & Hell”, the artist is immediately following up his second album Eggs with his third, Joke On You, as well as a documentary on his creative process, but he took some time from his busy schedule to talk to The Folklore.
Cavier Coleman talks to The Folklore about his inspirations, being the artist of the now, and what he wants his legacy to be.
You’re one of those people that does pretty much everything: art, music, modelling, photography, basketball. How would you describe yourself?
I’d have to say that I love to take on a wide array of challenges. Creatively, I find that a new venture only expands my horizons. All my various endeavors inspire me in different ways that occasionally bleed over into each other in unexpected ways. I’d like to think that I am, and love, being connected with my true inner emotions while creating. This ability to be introspective is vital in my creative process.
From all that you do, which would you say is your first love, and why are you drawn to it?
Well, my very first love was basketball. I learned so many vital skills though basketball such as discipline, teamwork, and perseverance. These skills are something I use in all my artistic endeavors, especially the teamwork aspect within the art world, which I equate with collaborating with other talented individuals.
You recently exhibited “Heaven & Hell”, your first solo show in New York, at the Ed Varie gallery. What was that experience like?
It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to Ed Varie. It was great to see so many different people come out and check out the work. An added bonus was being able to sell five pieces, too! The inspiration behind the collection was my interpretation of the spiritual realm of heaven and hell, from deities, to the devil, to a pharaoh.
You were born in Detroit, now you live and work in New York. Does either place influence your art at all? If so, in what way?
Yes, totally. I want to say both places actually inspired in my art in different ways. One, I will say, speaks of grit and just the nature of my art. I would say it has an urban feel with a twist of tribal and primitive, which is, to me, the embodiment of being in both places and growing up in a place like Detroit and now residing in New York.
Cartoons and comic images feature heavily in your artwork. Why are you attracted to colors and these characters?
I’m attracted to the these colors and characters for a multitude of reasons. I lived in South Africa and I remember vividly my stay there. I was just so inspired and moved by the colors and how the people moved and carried themselves with these different colors. This experience in South Africa gave me a truly deeper understanding for color arrangement in my art. As far as the cartoon characters, they stem from my childhood and watching cartoons such as Batman, Bart Simpson, and Tom and Jerry, which are some of my favorite cartoons.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is often mentioned in relation to your work. Which artists would you say are your actual influences and why?
I have definitely heard the Jean-Michel Basquiat comparisons throughout my career and I’d like to let people know that basically we are communicating with each other. I’m the artist of now, though. Definitely, I have other artists that inspire me from Picasso to Henri Matisse to Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein; the list goes on. All these artists, at a time, their time, did something impactful at that moment, and they captured that moment.
Artists are known for “starving”, and not gaining success until they have passed away. What would you like to be remembered for decades from now?
I would like to be remembered decades from now honestly for my hard work and the actual work itself. Also, my dedication and just staying true to the art and speaking the truth. That’s what I would want people to remember me for.
I’ve read that your art studio is full of plants and you’ve had a few unusual pets. What does your studio look like at the moment?
Yes, you’ve read right! The studio is filled with plants, friends often pop in, and some animals have trekked through as well! I love having my studio be filled with life. Now there are some new furniture pieces and new art works that will be ready to be shown soon.
“Jesus Watch”, 2020 by Cavier Coleman
You have an album out, Eggs. How would you describe your sound on this record? And what’s the meaning behind Eggs?
Eggs is a journey I wanted to take the listener on with various influences producing a hybrid of soundscapes. Though hip-hop is an important influence in my life, I enjoy a vast number of genres, so the sound is also a bit of electronic, hip-hop, soul, and then I brought in some good friends to play guitar on a couple of tracks as well. The title of this album “Eggs” was a way of me embracing a nickname everyone called me growing up, “Fish Eggs”, that nickname segued into me loving my real name, Cavier.
Did you record the album during the pandemic? How were you able to stay creative in that time?
I actually started creating music very organically three years ago before the pandemic. They were just beats at first and then it slowly grew into a passion I wanted to expand on. On October 25 2020, I started working on Eggs. It was my birthday – I’m very into numerology and was feeling like the time was right. I was able to stay creative from my continued inspiration from the coldness I felt in the world being shut down, feeling the vibe from the streets, and really taking a deep look inside. I also was very impacted from Kobe Bryant’s death, it really devastated me, and I looked inside myself, processed those feelings and used them to help me process and also heal from how I was feeling.
Do you find it easier or harder to create music over art, and why do you think that is?
Honestly, I like to do both whenever the inspiration is there; it doesn’t matter because I consider all of them equally important. Also, I have everything around me to be able to do it at the flip of a dime, so basically, it’s how my heart and my soul are feeling that day. It depends on the type of artistic flow I am feeling.
I noticed that there are no features on Eggs. Are there any musical artists you would love to collaborate with?
I don’t have any features on my album because I wanted it strictly just to be about my sound, a true representation of where I am right now sonically; I wanted the instruments to paint the words for people. I would love to collaborate with artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, John Mayer, some of those guys in the future, though.
Which piece of yours would you say is your best work? Do you have any favorites or do you love them all equally like they’re your children?
I have no favorite piece of art. I love them all the same. They all have their place in the world.
Finally, what is the next thing we can expect from you? What are you working on?
Just know I’m constantly creating. My third album, Joke On You, is out. Now I’m working on the fourth album. Also look out for new pieces to be out soon, and a few surprise projects, too. Stay tuned!
Joke On You by Cavier is out now