Tayvion Johnson is a young, ambitious, multi-faceted artist. His art is a reflection of his individuality, his environment, and his life. His goal is to tell a story to open your eyes through his different characters and photographs that represent mixed emotions with a variety of different interpretations that appeal to all and every persons aesthetic.
1. How did you get to where you are as an artist?
Basically I started painting about five years ago. I started drawing at a young age of 14, drawing characters and long body like figures, making comic books and stories, sketching all day everyday by myself because most of my friends or people I was around didn’t draw. They either played sports or were into other activities. I was also into sports but also had a creative side to me and starting a line and painting for a living was my overall dream. I quit sports and decided to pursue my dreams of spreading my message "we all are slaves to society" worldwide through artists on stage, homies in the hood, and family and friends representing me and my message of being anti slaves and spreading a message to youth and people around the world that being yourself is dope.
I decided to focus more and more on my art and my craft designing unique one of a kind paintings which everyone loved. I then had the idea of turning my one of one paintings into one of a kind T-shirts that people could wear or hot girls would wear and flex my name or my brand. I started ironing on T- shirt designs and making one of a kind shirts. My first batch sold out and I made a decent amount of money. I then started to take the idea to paint one of these designs on a jean jacket and it looked so amazing! I did two amazing shoots in my first ever piece one with Peyton and one with Pressa Armani, an upcoming artist from Toronto. I had met him through some homies who lived upstairs and that was the start of my clothing line, building a connection with Pressa. He respected me wanting to spread my message through designing clothing.
2. Is your family supportive of your art?
My grandparents, Mom and family have supported me but all of what I have created is me alone. I had no help from my Mom or anyone. This movement was started by me and the dedication and dream that I had of starting a movement regardless of the people around me supporting me. You can't let the people around you stop your dreams.
My mom is my biggest supporter. We have our ups and downs but I love her so much. She would buy me art supplies when I was around 9 years old and I would draw comic books and doodle characters. She has supported me from the beginning of my art career.
Another huge one of my supporters who I consider family is my art teacher Euphemia Redden. She was the one of main reasons my brand is what it is today. She inspired me to pursue art and to be myself and to follow my dreams. She convinced me to follow my heart and to quit football which was taking up the majority of my time for around 12 years. That decision caused my dedication and hard work towards my goal and passion.
I also consider my Instagram followers and online fans my family, keeping me happy, giving me advice, and supporting my brand so I could have the many opportunities that I have today. They comment on each and every post, direct message me ideas and give instant feedback, connect through tagging me in photos of my artwork around the city. It's definitely a huge support in becoming who I am today and has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new set of responsibilities and problems and a lot of benefits, like connecting with fans, creators and different artists while growing the company worldwide.
I've talked to and worked with athletes like Otto Lewis and actors on big screen movies like Taylor Hickson and even encountered worldwide icons like ILOVEMAKONNEN. Social media is a big part of my brand but it's not the only way. Word of mouth, and people seeing 1/1 hand done clothing in my messy style, it's me, it's different than all the other designers in Vancouver and worldwide. It's Slave and I think that is why my brand has gotten so much recognition and has gotten me where I am now in the art world.
3. Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me is my emotions. When I feel down or upset I create pieces. Most likely my obsession with my message being spread “We are all slaves to society” to more people and the constant drive that I have a new project every day and that I am constantly growing and constantly coming up with new ideas, looks, shoots, collaborations, etc. I'm constantly thinking ahead, planning the future which is what keeps me motivated and constantly busy and “inspired” for the next task or collaboration or custom personalized piece.
Pressa Armani is a big inspiration of mine. We bumped heads about 2 years ago now at my apartment building. I had painted one of my first jean jackets and it was in a box sitting in my room. I had seen Pressa and a few of his homies who said he would love my artwork so I decided to knock on the door. We instantly connected. He knew who I was and was down for a photo shoot with the jean jacket that read “Money, Power, Respect”. That's what it’s all about, getting the money = changing our situation. The power = the fans, the supporters of your dreams. The respect = self respect, embracing yourself and your message. Pressa inspired me that day, saying that he fucked with my clothing and respected me and my line, my dream showing me that anyone can follow their dreams no matter what.
4. You create art using a lot of different mediums. Is there one that your prefer over the other?
My all time favorite medium would have to be oil bars. They are basically oil paint compressed into a solid form almost like a stick of paint and you can rub them on canvas. They are so smooth, it's crazy. They can also be used on the street. Me and “The Grominator” a mentor who basically bought me at least $250 worth of oil bars and went out and did a full large street piece with multiple colours (pink, yellow, red, blue) it was a beautiful piece that only lasted about two days in total but the photos on social media were amazing. it's just dope to see someone post your art up not knowing who I am, @streettarts @Craige13 were the first to spot and post a photo of the $250 street piece which was dope, so oil bars are my favorite medium along with paint pens and spray paint which I use on almost everything from hoodies T-shirts, canvases, commission murals, snowboards...everything, and I paint everything so it works out perfectly. I instantly fell in love with the flair and the spraying of paint.
5. What's been your greatest art related accomplishment so far?
My greatest accomplishment this is a hard one. Well……… I don’t have one greatest accomplishment but I can name a few. Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. I was handed this award by Chip Wilson, owner of lululemon. This was a great honour for me. After the years I've spent building and designing my clothing line and it going unnoticed, this award was the start of my line going to the next level and was a huge accomplishment. My second biggest accomplishment is my art being published ….. yes published in a book. This happened May 17, 2018. I quit football because I wanted my mind to be free to relax, listen to music, and create 24/7. I started taking my art seriously, drawing designs on my laptop and sketching heavily and starting to post some of it up on my Instagram. Julia, a long time friend saw my art and instantly supported and loved it recognizing my developing talent and gave me the opportunity to be published in a book, fulfilling one of my life long dreams.
6. What kind of challenges have you faced as an artist?
Well there are many. One of my biggest challenges was being made fun of because of my art being kiddish and looking abstract. This affected me a lot, made me self-conscious and feeling like I was walking on eggshells, not being able to speak freely, dress freely, or be myself. I was hiding under an identity that pleased the people around me. I soon realized that this drawing and sketching is what I want to do for the rest of my life, spreading a positive message to the youth and the kids around me that you can be different. You don't have to sell drugs, rap, rob people. You can be whoever you want, don't let anyone stop you from following your dreams.
7. What's your dream gig?
My dream job would be creating one of one art pieces...drawings, magazine tear outs, clothing, etc and selling it to a group of supporters. Brainstorming and coming up with new videos and different forms of creatively presenting my artwork to my viewers and to the world through social media via my website or a book or magazine. Another dream job I WANT and am thinking about is going to school and becoming a animator and making animated SLAVE cartoons along with the comic book series of course, but even working on a movie or another company would be a honour and has always been a path or option of mine.
8. What's the best art-related advice you've ever received?
Well that would have to be from one of my uncles Troy Mazzuco. He told me that as a young artist starting to paint, you have to make as much art as you can, the more the better. From then on I was mass producing sketches all day every day, multiple different canvases throughout the week. Think of it as mass production. The more art you make, the more you grow, getting better etc. So I mass produced my work, growing and becoming more detailed and it's almost as if the faces and characters were in my head and I could draw new pieces easily and quickly and in my own unique way, so I think it definitely helped maintain my creativity at all times. I'm always taking on a new custom and working with different people all the time and this comes from the mass production aspect I was introduced to as a young artist.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists and creative?
Be yourself and express that through your art. As soon as you can freely be yourself people see and recognize that and instantly embrace your artwork for more than just art, but a lifestyle. That is where painting on clothing began. It's dope seeing the art but wearing the art is a completely different situation.
10. You've accomplished a lot as an artist and you're only 17. What's next for you?
What's next for me is wanting to give back more to our homeless, and the young artists wanting to become something. I have numerous campaigns that are in the works, one with the love ball brand. She gave me a number of T-shirts that I wore and did kind things in and after I painted the shirt and gave it to someone who needed it,and that person is now rocking a fresh one of a kind T- shirt- designed by me.