For Artists, it is not all roses and accolades that will be encountered on the journey but rather a less than fair share of trial and uncertainty. Below, 26 year old Saint Lucian artist Gilroy Hippolyte recounts his path from a young boy sketching the walls of his childhood home to his current experiences as a rising Saint Lucian Artist.
In terms of your work as an Artist, what has most of your attention right now? Is there anything that you are particularly excited about?
Let’s start off with EINC started off by Mind Of Xavier. I think “Exposure Is Not Currency” is an opinion, a voice, a struggle that all artists face. Most artists give up on their talents and gifts because we simply cannot survive on it and EINC exaggerates on just that.
There’s a project that I started working on with the talented Gideon Ambrose (GNAN Photography) surrounding a piece of mine that I completed in 2013 called “Devine Destruction” and hasn’t been released to the public to this day. I consider it to be one of my masterpieces and didn’t want to just post the picture on social media like I do with most of my work. Always used to tell those who have seen it that the world isn’t ready for this piece (lol) whenever they would pressure me to release it. If all goes well for this project. The video release will be completed before the year is done and I will finally share it with the world.
My most recent project “I Am GilroyH” is one that I’m looking forward to and have already built up so much hype for it before its actual release. Being the kind of introvert that I am, I was very comfortable with my work being known and not me as the artist as weird as it might sound because I feel very uneasy being in the public eye. However (learnt the hard way) to make it as an artist the public is all you have. You have to get out there, you have to interact with people in order to expand your market, and you have to be known in order to grow as not only an artist but as an entrepreneur.
So it’s a transition that I’m working on bit by bit and this project is my way of doing that. My family and friends ohh boy they’ve tried so hard to get me out that whole “in your bubble” thing and I love them for that (no matter how annoying it used to feel). Really thankful and blessed to have that kind of support even with my stubborn self when it came to stepping out of my comfort zone and I understand it now that I just have to let go and “get out there”.
The “I Am GilroyH” project is going to do just that because, I will be showing up at random locations on the island setting up my easel and doing what I do best…Art. Thinking of releasing clues as to where I may show up via social media, be it my Twitter, Facebook or even Snapchat just to have everyone involved in this. I will be taking in different elements from my surroundings and infusing it into my abstract art form and all of these paintings will become part of my new collection entitled “My Island Home”. Really excited about this project and can already see its potential for not only myself but for Saint Lucia and other artists who may just need that kind of motivation to not give up on what they love.
You have been doing this for so many years, what would you say pushes you to continue with your Art so consistently?
There are actually different reasons for me pushing myself to continue…trying to be an inspiration to others especially those younger than myself to show them that even if it’s difficult and people tell you otherwise that you should always believe in yourself and do what makes you happy, do what makes you feel complete.
For my Family and not just those related by blood but the friends who became family as well. They have been with me throughout this from the beginning. From me as a child drawing on everything in the house to me being stubborn turning down jobs because it had nothing to with Art. To me leaving jobs because I felt limited and stifled as an artist and wanting that freedom to create whenever I felt like it. It’s been tough, really tough. I won’t say there were not times when it felt useless doing this because at the end of the day, bills had to be paid, mouths to feed.
But they’ve always had my back, supporting and encouraging me telling me that a door will open some way somehow…I just had to keep pushing. It’s given me that drive, that mentality to overlook everything. Even after suffering a life changing injury from my previous job which has now put so many limitations on my life, my mobility, what I am able to do and not do now these people still encourage me to focus on my happiness even with these limitations and everything else will just fall into place when you work hard enough for it pray and continue to trust in God.
On a more personal level….I made a promise to dear friend, a brother in art I would always say…Lyndel George…..Rest In Peace. He was also an artist, a remarkable one at that. I’ve known him from Infant School….we even attended Saint Mary’s College together where the real rivalry in Art started along with Brandon Bodley which brought us so much closer forming a brotherhood. Even after we left school when I started up a movement called Artists United, Lyndel was one of the first people to show his support and be there for that movement because we wanted to make Art something again amongst the youth and on this island. I promised him that I would continue to push art for as long as I can for not just myself but for him as well since he was taken from this life at such a young age….That we would continue to paint our futures together because we shared so many views on things art related. Even EINC reminds me of Lyndel because I can just hear him saying it “Poor people fed up!”
I know seeing a piece through to the end can be a natural as well as satisfying process, but I also know it can be grueling. Can you describe what it feels like for you when you have successfully 'finished' another piece? (Although I've heard a few Artists say you never really finish a piece, there's always something you can add to it or change?)
I always call my pieces my babies, my children…being able to bring one into existence is feeling that can’t really be explained. Seeing a blank canvas now brimming with life in most cases not even knowing how it would turn out so it’s even more shocking when you see that finished piece. But you then look at your work and see what can be improved what you could do better in the next piece…where your strengths and weaknesses are especially when you compare it to similar work of other artists. You can look back at your previous work and see the level of growth with is always a rewarding feeling.
I thought this was a beautiful piece; for me personally there's the familiarity of the Pitons which happens to trigger an almost emotional response and the colors are also hypnotic.
Can you share your thoughts on this piece with us?
This is where the “My Island Home” collection started off. I initially did this piece as a gift for someone who lives in Canada. She was in love with my “Galaxy Art Style” but also was very in love with Saint Lucia and really enjoyed when we took her sailing at my previous place of employment during her vacation so she asked if I could combine the two and create something for her. I didn’t know what it would be or how it would turn out when I first started but then later on realized that whenever someone saw artwork like that they automatically knew that I was the one who did it. When I released the photograph of this piece people instantly fell in love with it and found that it was so unique compared to the usual paintings of the pitons. They started asking if they could have the piece or if I had any copies of it or any like that. It symbolizes the beginning of that collection for me.
I thought about having you talk about your 'favourite' painting but then realized that that might be the equivalent to asking a parent to choose their favourite child. So, which one of your projects would you say is the most memorable thus far? And, why?
Most memorable piece thus far would have to be Devine Destruction hands down because I had to go through a path of personal development not only in my artwork (figuring out my style) but as an individual and the way I approached life. It represents a level of growth to me as a person and I always talk about it as being the key to life itself.
I had to figure out this piece, what it meant what it was trying to show me as it came together bit by bit over the months unlike my other pieces which would start and finish in one sitting. Even after Devine Destruction was finished being able to explain what it meant required a deeper understanding of not just the piece but myself and life. The rest I can’t talk about (>_<) we will just have to wait for its release.
Who are some of your favourite artists? (Not limited to Painters)
This one is hard to pinpoint because I appreciate any artist that faces the challenges whatever they may be…based on their circumstances and still continue to push for what they love, developing their skill or craft and making a name for themselves. Especially our artists here right in Saint Lucia young and old, those who have made a name for themselves and those still trying to do just that. I have a respect and appreciation for them all because I too know what it is like being an artist, in any form here in Saint Lucia.
Ive been called the Picasso and Van Gogh of this generation before and consider that to be an honor because I want my artwork to have that kind of historical impact and to be known worldwide like the works of these great artists.
What do you do when you are not painting?
I’m constantly bombarded with ideas for projects and concepts for new pieces. I spend most of my time just taking in nature, in the presence of good company. Doing whatever I can to keep my balance because whenever I don’t feel balanced I cannot create.
If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Right off the bat I would say the United States, visit my Dad in Wisconsin, to gain access to a more accepting market for my artwork and access to a wider variety of art supplies. But…I wouldn’t know where to start because I want to travel the world to continue my “I Am GilroyH Project” and create an abstract piece from everywhere I visit. Let’s go with travelling all of Europe for starters.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not an Artist?
I wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t be Gilroy. I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else although I grew up around watersports because of my father and have a love for the ocean overall so maybe there. (Still can’t imagine it)
Share a quote that means a lot to you.
“Art is my life and my life is my Art” by GilroyH
Links available below to follow Gilroy's Journey