Michael Anthony Ingram is not only a Digital artist living in Washington DC, he’s a retired university professor, social change activist, Founder and Executive Director of an award-nominated nonprofit organization in Washington DC, a blog talk show producer and host, a life coach, motivational speaker, educational consultant and noted spoken word poet.
From New-York City, where he’ll soon showcase his artworks, Michael Anthony Ingram accepted to reply several questions about his artistic universe and his projects.
Digital Artist Michael Anthony Ingram Interview:
I want to be known as someone who tried to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Welcome to Michael Anthony Ingram, please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in digital art?
I am a retired university professor and a poet of some renown. Originally hailed from the great state of North Carolina, I currently live in Washington DC. I have always had an interest in the visual arts, but never thought about pursuing it as an avocation.
When I founded the nonprofit organization, The DC Poetry Project (DCPP) in 2011, I was constantly designing flyers for our events. These flyers were often beyond the call of duty regarding presentation. I added extra colors and depth to the flyers to help stand out from the norm. I wanted the flyers to “live out loud” like the poets who performed their works at our events. So I crafted many of the flyers from artistic designs and images that I found online (in the public domain). I used digital art software to manipulate the images to create DCPP flyers. Over the years I made hundreds of flyers.
In late 2016, I started to dabble with photo-manipulations for other projects. These photo-manipulations were both of representational pictures and non-representational objects. Although I am a self-trained artist, I attempt to thread my intuition with the study of the aesthetic qualities of emotionalism, imitationalism, and formalism throughout my work. I recently completed an ADOBE Photoshop course to learn new techniques.
Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?
Initially, I was spurred on and encouraged by Facebook friends and family including Tonia Cowans, Chris Dooley, Drew Jones, Gene Newburg and Iwan Taylor. These individuals, as well as many others, championed my efforts. Every day I would create a new design and post it on Facebook. I’m sure that my friends tired of seeing the many different images and designs that I posted. I received critical feedback and advice on ways to make each image better. I greatly appreciate all who helped me develop my skill level.
Your artworks seem beyond reality, is your art style inspired by any real-life situations?
Real life episodes often inspire my work. For example, a trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo inspired the Peacock Series (1 – 12). The peacocks strutted in a proud and regal fashion. I studied the peacocks and worked to craft the representational series based on the colors of the tail fans. I also took some liberties to imagine peacocks from an abstract expressionistic perspective.
What would you say to people who wonder if digital art is really art?
Many question the legitimacy of digital art. Some scoff at the nature of the design. Even I on occasion ask myself whether my work fits in with traditional art forms. Digital art is viewed a new media because the medium is computer based. There are times that I feel that I have not paid my dues. I do not use real canvases, paints or oils. My canvas is virtual, and software programs serve as the paint and brush. Still, I focus on the outcome rather than the process because no one can contest the beauty and richness of the end-product.
Thus my overarching goal is to escape beyond the bounds of traditional forms of painting and to free myself from the rules of conservatism. I would say to people who wonder if digital art is really art that it’s the computer generation and art is ever changing.
Your manipulations stand out in incredible quality and technique. What are the most important factors in creating a digital art work?
A number of important factors need consideration during the digital art process. These factors include color, layering, tone and hue/saturation. I think that the most important factor is composition. The structure of the image includes framing and negative space, rhythm, and contrast. The elements are critical because without them there is neither rhyme or reason for the final product. The focus is off, and the image loses its relevance. Digital art should tell a story without composition the story never begins.
Michael Anthony Ingram, what role do you want to have in society as an Artist?
As an artist, whether it’s through my digital paintings or poetry I want to be known as someone who tried to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I want people to understand why self-expression is so important for growth and development. Self-expression is also critical to bounce back from adversity. The following verse from my poem “Today I Think I’ll Echo…” attest to my beliefs about the power of resilience:
“Today, I think I’ll echo the color of the grass,
Because like the grass,
because like the grass my color and life are rich.
So rich the weeds can’t touch me.
you might step on me, cut me, cause me to fall,
just give me a minute
and I’ll get up and stand just as tall!”
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a Jazz Series that will pay homage to the incredible work of photographer William Gottlieb. Gottlieb photographed some of the world’s most famous jazz artists including Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, and Billie Holiday I want to reimagine his work through a semi-abstract set of digital paintings and image manipulations.
Is artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Yes, artistic life can be very lonely. I think the quote by Brad Greek best explains an artist’s life: “I create better when I’m alone. Not just alone – as no one around – but lonely… My soul is in my art and only there will you see it.” I try to counteract the loneliness by sharing my work with other artists, as well as other important people in my life.
Could you tell us a few words about your exhibitions in NYC and New Jersey?
I am excited about these upcoming exhibits. The first show will be held in New York City on September 14, 2017. Conception Art will sponsor the pop-up event. Conception Art is an award-winning and globally known contemporary art initiative. The primary focus of the pop-up is to assist emerging artists to connect with other artists and to find patrons for their work.
The second exhibit will be held in Metuchen, New Jersey from September 23, 2017 – December 31, 2017, at Nails in the Wall, the Gallery at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The theme of the exhibition is God in the Abstract. Three of my lesser known works will be shown during the show. There were over 300 applicants for the competition. The exhibition will feature thirty artists. I am particularly proud of this display because it allowed me an opportunity to express my love for God in color, shape space rather than a discernable picture.
Thanks again, Michael Anthony Ingram, for the opportunity to interview you for Creativinn! Are there any final thoughts or words of advice you have for our readers?
Creativinn is a fantastic site! It provides artists with an incredible forum to share their work. I commend everyone who works at Creativinn. I also hope that the interview will spur others to create new dreams, climb different mountains and above all else BE happy.