Discollins the Artist Talks Appreciation for the Female Form, Early Childhood, and What He Learned from Janet Jackson
[as originally published on thehypemagazine.com]
Discollins is a contemporary artist know for his fine art that depicts the female form as well as his works of art with a geometric and mosaic feel. He draws inspiration from a life rich in experience and his appreciation for culture – be it history, architecture, fashion, the culinary world, anatomy, or any of life’s many fascinating facets. Born in Jamaica, Discollins was adopted as a child and raised in Europe and Canada. At the early age of 17, he first discovered his passion for the arts; but for financial reasons, he focused more on working his way into the more immediately lucrative career of modeling. Working with such iconic brands as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Coca-Cola, Jaguar, and Target, Discollins (known at the time as Fox Hall), became so in demand that he wound up sharing the screen one-on-one with the legendary Janet Jackson for her love ballad “Any Time, Any Place,” as well as Toni Braxton in her video for “Let It Flow.” We caught up with Discollins to discuss art, his early years, and more.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?
Someone very special in my life gave me a book of Modigliani many years ago. She inspired me to paint more after seeing some of the first art pieces earlier in my career and my life. I love art – I don’t do it for glamour or money. I do it for the love of it. I want people to connect to my art. I’m trying to leave a little bit of my existence on this earth. With art, I think you can do that.
Can you talk about the time where you had to make money in other avenues, until you were able to an artist full-time?
I left home at the young age of 13. With that came a lot of struggles. At one point in my life, I had no place to live. I spent 8 months sleeping in a Laundromat in the back of a dryer to keep warm. I ultimately got into modeling, which was very lucrative. It was the main source of income for many years.
What intrigued you about depicting the female form when first began your career?
Other than the geometric shapes, the female form is something I started drawing at the very beginning of my career. I take great pleasure in doing so. Women are powerful. And so is the female form. Women are the source of life itself – and there’s an inherent aesthetic there. I’ve heard it said that men are the head of the household, but women are the neck. Without the neck, the head doesn’t mean anything.
In the past, you have worked with iconic brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Coca-Cola, Jaguar, Sketchers, Seiko, and Target, to name a few. Can you share any interesting anecdotes from working with those companies in a creative capacity?
I remember the Sketchers campaign. It was their first one, and it was big. Worldwide. I did it with Brooke Burke who was just starting out at the time. We were the “Sketchers couple.” We had a lot of fun doing that together.
You had the opportunity to share the stage with music and entertainment royalty Janet Jackson in her music video Any Time, Any Place. Can share with us what that was like working with Ms. Jackson?
I’ve long admired Janet as a pop-culture icon. Getting to work with her was great. Initially, it was a little surreal. But she’s so sweet that we quickly got very comfortable with each other.
If you had to pick just one of your favorite one-of-kind furniture pieces, what it be and why?
It would have to be a table. Because it can be created in so many different shapes, styles, colors, finished. It seems limitless in what you can do with them.
Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?
I am working with my art advisor Esthella Provas on putting together an art show at a Los Angeles art gallery. Esthella is very well respected in the art world, and really knows her stuff.
Are there any other contemporary artists you have on your radar?
Yes, for sure. I’m proud to work in a time with such contemporaries as Retna, whose work I admire. I know him – we even did a painting together when he was first getting started. In fact, I actually own his first painting. I also like Damien Hirst. He’s one of my favorites. His work is amazing.
Can we expect any new pieces this year?
Yes, absolutely. I am working on a new series now. More to come!
Is there any advice that you like to share with people that might want to follow in your footsteps?
Whatever form of art you choose, make sure you love it. If you truly and deeply love it, others will love it as well. Follow your dreams.
You, like many others, have benefitted from fine art departments. Have you thought of partnering with any other organizations to help keep those programs alive around the country in schools?
Yes, if I were given the opportunity, I would love to partner with such an organization. Art is one of the best forms of freedom and expression. I’m an advocate for having schools incorporate more art in their programs.
Is there a particular philanthropic organization you support?
Yes, definitely. I’m a big supporter of UNICEF and have been for many years now. As a child, I was adopted. When I ran away, the only organization that helped me was UNICEF. They fed me and helped me in so many other ways. They are very close to my heart.