Los Angeles

Dre Price can more than likely be found in the studio garage of her home in Hollywood Hills. Walking into her studio is much like walking into an arena curated for a life of peace of mind. On the wall hangs a portrait of Ganesha that she has opted not to sell, as it has become one of her most prized works.

 

Q: Where are you from and what do you do?

A: That’s a loaded question for me. I moved around a lot when I was little. I was born in Tennessee, pretty much grew up in Houston and New Orleans, but I say that I’m from Houston. I’ve lived there the longest. I am a visual artist and a creative consultant.

Q: Most of the artists that I’ve interviewed so far have noted on becoming more of themselves after embracing themselves as creators. At what point in your life do you feel you grew into yourself?

A: I grew into myself when I stopped succumbing to other people’s dreams and aspirations for me and focused on what I wanted. I’ve always been an artist. I just didn’t have the balls to pursue it for a very long time. Really, I would say post my suicide experience.

Q: I’m finding that a lot of the people that I’m doing these interviews with, including myself, have had this either breakdown or traumatic experience that has navigated a lot of their growth into becoming a fuller version of themselves.

A: That’s all a part of our journey through life. The problem is that we put so much pressure on ourselves when we’re young that we lose sight of what we should really be appreciating. 20s are for self-discovery. It’s all really trial and error because you have to figure yourself out, and if you don’t try it, you won’t know if you like it or not. Your 30s are about learning how to implement everything that you learned. I feel like by the time you hit your 40s, you should be smooth sailing. It’s not all supposed to happen early in your teens or 20s, but that’s just what society shows us. We can’t operate on a societal timeline. It's so destructive. It’s just learning to not put that pressure on yourself and becoming your greatest ally instead of your worst enemy.

Q: I was just watching one of Lauryn Hill’s interviews where she brought up being on everybody else’s time.

A: Both time and money exists as man made concepts. The more money that you have, the more freeness you have with your time, because you can buy other people’s time to do shit for you. You have to sit and ask yourself, how am I spending my time, how am I selling my time, how valuable am I making my time. Time is the most indispensable thing that we have and it cannot be recreated. It has nothing to do with material goods. I feel that anyone can do that.

Q: Materials?

A: Materialism. It’s so limiting. Why limit yourself to just one thing? That’s going to be like having a new toy. The newness of it is going to wear off. Then you’re just stuck with this thing. It doesn’t fix anything and it may not attract what you’re actually looking for. Anything rooted in materialism will fade away because things cannot fulfill you.

Q: I agree. I just got through a nomadic journey that lasted for about seven months, and I didn’t have anything but a blow up mattress, basic hygienic stuff, some clothes and a couple of floor pillows. I definitely found the most peace I’ve ever had in that.

A: That’s a beautiful thing. Minimalism breeds ingenuity because you really see how much you don’t need and how you can make so much out of nothing. We don’t need all of this shit, and it’s kind of nice not having so much stuff because it makes it very easy to get up and go.

Q: Yeah I definitely never felt tied to anything and I think that was the most rewarding part of it.

A: You were probably freer with your time and doing what you wanted to do because you didn’t have the responsibility of things in the way.

Q: I remember you telling me during a conversation we had at Ace, how important it is to make stuff for yourself. I was in a terrible headspace at that time. It made me recall how reflective and therapeutic art can be for everybody.

A: It’s cool to make stuff for other people, but that cannot be everything. You’ll eventually burn yourself out and you’ll start hating what you loved. Then it’s all downhill from there.

Q: I’m assuming that you’re commenting on your personal experiences with these things as well?

A: Absolutely. I wasn’t making things for myself in the beginning. Then I ended up not really selling anything for probably like a year, the year that I moved to Hawaii. While I was there, I decided to create the work that I wanted to create without thinking about whether or not someone else would like it. I’d become very depressed in that way of thinking. The abstract work was more of a challenge for me. I'd convinced myself that I was incapable of working in that style. Now I love it.

Q: I’m finding so many common threads between everyone in these sit-downs. We’re all so connected, but everyone thinks they’re crazy.

A: We’re so connected, and we all go through so many of the same emotions. It’s just that no-one wants to admit it. Everybody’s got this fear of rejection or persecution thing going on. A lot of that I think just stems from being insecure. Once you figure out who you are, you don’t give a fuck anymore. I carry that in every form of relationship: friendship, romantic, business, whatever. It’s your option to take shit personally and realizing that makes you a much more comfortable person I think.

Q: I feel like my fuck it is growing inside of me, but I’m really trying to get it to peak.

A: It’s coming. Just think about the elderly people you know, they just don’t give a fuck. They’ll say anything and do anything. The fuck it just becomes very, very big inside. Just get some fuck it in your system. Life gets better.

Q: First contact with art?

A: I have a cousin who used to draw really well when we were little. I used to cry and practice all of the time because I wanted to be as good as him. He never even said anything about it. It was totally my own problem I was giving myself, but I’ve been doing art for as long as I could hold a pencil. My mom pretty much nurtured it as a hobby. They didn’t take it seriously until much later, but they definitely made sure that I had whatever I needed to create.

Q: How did you choose your medium?

A: My mom suggested that I go into painting when I was in high school and I fell in love with it. Tried it again in college, LSU was not the place for that. I didn’t really make anything for a good four years or so after that.

Q: What did you do with that time?

A: Losing myself in Louisiana. Not going to class, not doing much. I was in a really destructive part of my life at that time. I was just running the streets of New Orleans.

Q: Yeah this sounds familiar.

A: Yeah. So, thank God for growth and all that great stuff and no longer being in that place. That’s why I have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans. I was in a hole, a very deep, dark, black hole. I don’t miss Baton Rouge or New Orleans. No disrespect Louisiana. 

Q: Do you have any rituals that you do before you get into your craft?

A: I have a couple. When I get new canvases, I like to sage them and do a little prayer so that they have the intentions that I intend for them to have. Not to put any pressure on it, but just praying that I enjoy the process. I know that when I enjoy the process, things come out a lot better. I still have issues with asking for money for art, but someone told me that it was disrespectful for me to do that. I don't technically make art for money, but money is a side effect of good work.

Q: Yeah. You’re about to help a lot of people with that one.

A: For a long time, I was very resistant to money. It changes you, your family, the people around you and the type of people it attracts. I’ve just seen a lot of negative things associated with it. That’s why I like to think of it as a tool. I like to live comfortably and there's nothing wrong with that. People like to think that you have to be living in poverty and shit in order to be real. I’m not subscribing to that.

Q: One of the books that I’m pushing on artists, “Art and Fear” by Ted Orland and David Bayles, I read early on while I was studying painting and drawing at LSU and it helped me out a lot with getting comfortable with my own work and whatnot. I still reference it from time to time. I’d say it’s like a handbook for me. Do you have any books that have helped guide you through your creativity?

A: “The Artist Way,” by Julia Cameron. It’s a bunch of tips, tools, and exercises to get through creative blocks. They have this thing they call morning pages where you write whatever’s in your head whether it be positive or negative. It doesn’t have to make any sense. It's all about dropping all of your baggage before taking on your day. That was a really cool tool for me to learn at the time because I was in a really negative headspace. It’s not as necessary for me now, but it’s still cool to do.

Q: Lets for a second acknowledge greatness as a habit that involves discipline and getting up and doing whatever we have to do rather than something that is thrust upon us everyday. So, if we’re defining our crafts as something that we’re trying to achieve greatness in, would you say that you have a routine that you tie into your daily life in order to get yourself into this necessary space?

A: I’m developing more of a routine now because I’m in a new location. Lately, it’s been about whatever the first call of the day is. Since I’m a creative director now, there’s all types of conference calls and things that I have to be a part of, which is new, but it’s forcing me to become more organized in my life.  One thing that I am doing, and I just set this time because it’s my number, is 22 minutes of meditation a day at least.

Q: Have you had a muse before?

A: Yes.

Q: Elaborate?

A: I've had a couple of muses. I like to surround myself with pretty things and that is just kind of a motivation for me to keep myself active. They may or may not be included in the art, but their presence is more of the muse part of it for me. I'm not just going to be sitting here looking at you the whole time, but beauty isn't limited to it being romantic either. Opening myself up to having people around shifts things a bit. I don't ever want to be stuck in one way of doing anything because then I can't grow.

Q: What's your most consistent source of inspiration?

A: A lot of my inspiration comes from moments in life. It could be watching a tv show, or seeing a butterfly on a branch or eating food. It can come from anywhere. Now it's more about trying to be anti-procrastination and not sitting on so many ideas. Whenever I have an idea that I'm really passionate about, my goal is to make a move on it immediately.

Q: Do you feel that you were made to do what you do?

A: Now I do. Things started going a lot smoother when I decided that I was and stopped being resistant to what I already am.

Q: Do you ever feel that you have to do this?

A: Yes. I know that because when I stopped, I tried to kill myself. I was so miserable and felt like I didn't have anything.

Q: I'm observing the way that artists of color are being looked at and how heavily people try to rely on us as the articulators of the Black experience, feeding the idea that our work isn't really interesting if it's not about that. Would you say that you're mostly making art for art's sake?

A: I don't always want to make something that people have to put a whole lot of thought into. It's not that I don't find myself politically inclined. I love political art, but I'd also like to show that as a Black artist, you don't only have to do that. There is space for beauty in art.

Q: That's definitely one of the main arguments right now.

A: There's so much other shit going on.

Q: Definitely. Even with my work I feel pressured sometimes to say something.

A: I have before, but why force it.

Q: Last question, how'd you get into modeling?

A: Accidentally. I've never thought of myself as a model. My cousin is a model and told me to try it. I started off with a fashion show and then I got into photoshoots and liked it a lot because I could be really creative and they didn't limit me in movement. I just didn't like the attention. It kind of toughened me up a bit because the fashion world is very brutal. If you're not secure in yourself, they'll rip you to pieces. It's all about your physical appearance. Your job is to be a hanger. I prefer to be behind the camera these days.

 

More from the artist:

dreprice.com

Dorthy RayComment