Who is Antonio James?
Antonio James, better known as Del Antonio, is a painter, illustrator, and poet based out of Miami, Florida. As an artist, his diverse body of work ranges from celebrations of black musicians, and their contributions to pop culture; to darker and more symbolic expressions reflecting the contemporary struggle to improve both the black and LGBTQ conditions in the United States. We sat down with Antonio to find out more about the man, his personal history, and where he finds the inspiration behind many of his works.
EBAN: Firstly, where are you from? Have you always resided in Miami?
Antonio: I was actually born in Memphis, Tennessee, but I then later moved to Miami, Florida.
EBAN: What motivated you start painting? Were you always interested in the arts, or did you transition into them later in life?
Antonio: It wasn’t until my grandmother passed away that I became motivated to paint. She was my best friend, my world. When I lost her painting was the only thing that comforted me and brought me peace. I’ve always been into the arts. As a kid I was always dancing. I danced at home, at every school event, and I was even apart of a battle dancing group when I was younger. I also used to write songs, and I’ve always drawn things growing up.
I became interested in poetry during my high school years. I currently have six poetry books published which you can find on my site LovedOut.com. I’m also a published illustrator of a children’s book. I’ve done very little acting. Earlier this year I had the honor to be apart of a web series. Art runs through my soul!
EBAN: How did you get your start as a painter?
Antonio: One day I decided to draw someone I was dating, and said I would turn it into a painting. It came out really nice, and I was surprised. Yet, I didn’t think I was really interested in becoming a painter. I did a few other pieces just for fun and posted them on social media. They got a lot of positive responses. Yet, even then I left the art of painting alone. When my grandmother passed in 2014 I picked up a paint brush and I begin to create magic. Ever since then, I have taking painting very seriously!
EBAN: Where do you find inspiration for new works of art?
Antonio: I love music! So sometimes my inspiration comes from music and musical artists, but most of it comes from emotions!
EBAN: What role do you think art has in our society?
Antonio: It’s a voice. It’s a friend. Most of all though, it is therapy and healing.
EBAN: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
Antonio: I think it does both. Art imitates life. It recaps life experiences and moments. However art also creates ideas for new experiences, and moments which can inspire life.
EBAN: What ideas or concepts do you try capture or demonstrate through your work?
Antonio: I like to show mostly the duality of strength and vulnerability. Most of my art you will see both.
EBAN: Does race play a role in your work, and if so what role?
Antonio: Some of my art more recently has been visual expressions of the Black Lives Matter movement. I also do a lot of paintings of black music icons because of the influence they have had on the community in which I grew up.
EBAN: Any advice for younger artists who are just getting started?
Antonio: The only important advice I can give someone who is just starting is get to know yourself, and your style. Don’t limit your expressions! If you’ve always drawn pictures of dogs, but wanted to draw a cat, but were unsure about it, because you had always drawn dogs. Forget that! Draw the cat anyway, don’t be afraid to explore yourself artistically.
EBAN: Do you use a particular style or have a particular technique?
Antonio: I don’t actually. I never really plan for the art to come out any particular way. I just do it.
EBAN: Where can people find more of your work?
Antonio: www.LovedOut.com as well as my Instagram page loved_out.
EBAN: Antonio, thank you so much for your time.
Antonio: You’re welcome.