February 24, 2020
Find a Way, Finding Away
Voluptuous Nude Portraits
Moya is a Toronto born artist and Illustrator with a BDES from OCAD University. Being of mixed background Moya has a unique perspective on the world. With a large list of influences, his work explores many themes rooted in pop culture, the supernatural and the absurd. Subverting everything from simple daily interactions to social issues.
Showing a deep infatuation with form and character his art whether zines, comics, murals, editorial illustrations, sculptures or doodles often features the human body and its relationship with the world around it. Proficient in traditional painting and digital rendering, his painterly and loose style is easily identifiable and engaging. Regardless of the media he attempts to establish a relatable, humorous and critical forum for diverse audiences. Below is a conversation with Moya over text message.
Moya Garrison — Msingwana
Hey man how’s it going?
Ready to start this interview?
Sick! First of I am glad that you took the time out of your day to do this,
I really appreciate it. Okay lets kick this off!
How did you first get into drawing and illustrating?
I showed interest in it as a little kid, I’m an only child so
it was one of my favourite forms of entertainment.
My parents noticed and encouraged me to continue.
How did that come about? Did you have artistic
talent running in your family?
My family mostly consists of educators and academics.
My parents are musicians and teachers, arts and culture mean a lot to them
therefore it means a lot to me. I got really lucky growing up
with folks who recognized my potential and exposed me to a variety of influences.
My grandma can draw super well also haha
Haha that’s amazing!
Do you think you have a clear understanding of who you are?
Yeah for sure, I have for a long time
I guess it’s less of knowing who I am but more knowing
who I want to be and the logical steps to getting there.
“My family mostly consists of educators and academics… I got really lucky growing up…”
“At the end of the day it’s just relationships and trust,…”
You have worked with numerous people/brands such as
Badbadnotgood one of my favorite bands ever, lol
and adidas, hypebeast etc.
What’s the biggest lesson or take away that you have learned
from being in that more collaborative space,
and how did they inform your freelance practice or affect your work?
Probably that the client isn’t always right and that’s okay.
It’s fun to collaborate and at the end of the day I know my way around my skill,
creative approach and methods so I really like when clients recognize that
and give me the green light. That’s the area I thrive in.
It’s really important to maintain the integrity of their brand so I always have that in mind.
At the end of the day it’s just relationships and trust,
so after working with a good amount of brands and people
I’m starting to get the hang of giving and taking to a point where
both the client and I are happy with the final product.
Forgive me if that sounds really general.
No that makes perfect sense I feel like I go through this every other day trying to reach a compromise.
I am curious to know what the creative process with Badbadnotgood was like? How involved is the band in that process?
It was extremely easy.
Alex is a great friend,
so it was just a matter of him and I going back and forth in person for the most part.
I literally drew it at his place.
The band is very hands on with everything they do and close with their management.
They’re curious about and entertained by creative processes,
that’s probably why we get along so well!
Alex is the drummer! Sorry I didn’t specify
Can you also talk a little about the importance of
creating physical, long-lasting objects/paintings?
Do you remember the first thing that really stood out to you?
Yeah for sure.
From a personal place it’s a legacy,
it’s nice to hold onto something concrete in a world
that’s currently so consumed with convenience and temporary satisfaction.
I like doing things the harder longer way if it’s something I care about.
People get to sit with it and have time to ruminate and that’s special.
The first piece of art I remember?
Oo that’s a tough one
Could also be yours?
Off the top of my head it’s this really beautiful watercolour
that was in my grandfathers house depicting a pond and some rolling green hills.
I have no idea who it was by.
Yeah I remember being in Maine when I was probably 6-7
and painting a hummingbird feeding outside the window
and a bunch of Pokémon on postcards to send to my friends haha
Haha those were the days!
Do you see your creations or paintings as your babies?
I paint things I like so sometimes letting them go can hurt.
Especially if it’s not for what I think it’s worth.
But honestly that would be way to many kids 😅
“… It’s nice to hold onto something concrete in a world that’s currently so consumed with convenience and temporary satisfaction.”
“Yeah I remember … probably 6-7 and painting a humming bird feeding outside the window and a bunch of Pokémon on postcards to send to my friends haha.”
How important is representation in your work?
Very! My father is East African and my mom is American
so It’s important for me to reflect the black experience
from both those places in my work.
I believe all people of colour, gender and sexual orientation should feel good when looking at my work.
They are who I want to inspire and have a dialogue with.
Is that where the term “Only Human” comes from
or is that a past, present or future form of yourself?
“Only human” comes from the classic excuse “I’m only human”.
It’s a reminder to stay grounded and embrace the flaws or things that make us feel imperfect.
It’s a celebration of the human condition.
Every time I see you, you’re always in the best of moods, lol.
How do you balance being creatively productive
with maintaining a healthy mind/body?
Sometimes it’s not easy,
there are days where I spend hours just pacing around my room
trying to decide what to work on and prioritize.
Sometimes I can’t put a pencil or brush to paper for the life of me.
Other times I can’t stop working and I have immense clarity.
I don’t look at either of those states as being a bad thing,
it can be frustrating sometimes but it’s cool.
I spend a lot of time with my friends who are eccentric, funny and interesting
and I listen to my mind and body when they tell me what they need!
You’re a pretty positive person
and have a good sense of what your process is, and what you’re making.
Do you ever allow yourself to say, “This project is not working,”
and just abandon something,
or do you usually try to find a way to make it work?
I never bail on a whole project
but I definitely bail on a direction, idea or composition all the time.
If the concept is good on a personal project but it’s not working in the moment
I’ll just set it to the side and come back to it.
Okay last question.
If you were to hold a dinner party
and could only invite 3 people, who would they be?
Ugh that’s so difficult.
Bambii, Dave Chappelle and George Clinton? Lol
Haha nice eclectic mix of people.
Respect my boy!
“I believe all people of colour, gender and sexual orientation should feel good when looking at my work.”
Interview: Kwame Essien