Lionel Thomas is a self-taught artist displaying a panel of paintings based on musical themes. We first found him on LinkedIn and immediately got intrigued; hence we decided to do this interview.
Lionel's colorful and vibrant art finds its roots in the dynamic vibes of those cities: Lille, France - or Lila as we know it in Spanish - and Garoua, Cameroon.
His Cameroonian and French roots give his artworks depth, the symbol of musical culture in constant movement.
Next, the interview, exclusively for Kimatika:
K: Tell us more about your background?
LT: I was born in Lille. I grew up in a smaller town called Garoua. The former is cold, known for its grey rain clouds, at the crossroads of London, Brussels, and Luxemburg. The latter is very warm, sunny, peaceful, and almost desertic. Such a coincidence that they are both located in the North region of their respective countries. I like to describe myself as "the child of the Norths."
K: When did you start this project?
LT: Last year, actually, about six months ago. It's still a young actor, but it had been pending for a long time, I had many stories to tell, and this was the right time. I have been drawing and painting since my childhood, but this was an epiphany after years of activity in corporate communication marketing and graphic design with my other former company: Kilifori
K: What kind of technique do you use?
LT: Oil painting is a realm of infinite possibilities. I use brush techniques mostly. I’m experimenting with impasto and glazing a lot. I'm a fan of knife techniques; They give my paintings that energy and look I’m searching for. I combine digital and traditional art to reach new heights and frontiers.
K: Tell us more about your sources of inspiration?
LT: I remember my childhood in Garoua, those long drawing sessions in our house's study room, impatiently waiting to run to my mum to show her my "masterpieces." I grew up watching Disney's classics: Bambi, Peter & The Wolf, Fantasia, and Song of The South... Also, Japanese animes. Reproducing what I saw was the game. I met "real" art in high school. It was cold, segmented, and dull. The passion came along with Vermeer, Lorrain, Turner, Martens, Picasso, and Basquiat. Their work blew me away.
K: And where did the idea of painting music come from?
LT: When I wasn't drawing, I listened to music in the living room. My dad is a huge music lover, he had a great vinyl and CD collection organized by genre and country; I could switch from Umm Kulthumm to The Jacksons' albums very quickly. Painting music comes naturally as I got exposed to tons of art covers. Furthermore, being able to express my feelings that way helps my artistic growth. Music is a vessel of emotions, and so is painting. I'm trying to transform the hearing experience into a visual one.
K: You are also a musician; tell us more about it.
LT: I am a multi-instrumentalist. I play the piano, the guitar (electric and acoustic), and drum machines. The saxophone came late to the mix, I can't resist that incredible sound. I'm a quick learner and have easy access to the instruments; It is a blessing.
K: And what kind of music do you listen to? What music is on while you're painting?
LT: I like the Blues, Soul, and Jazz music. At times, I'm into contemporary music: R&B and Hip-Hop. I was born in the 80s; therefore, that 90s vibe always hits home. I'm glad this analog trend is coming back in today's records.
K: The characters we see in your paintings, are they real musicians?
LT: No, they are just figures. I like to explore and contemplate my music and art idols from different angles. I redigest, compile their background, and deliver it raw to my audience: I can feel Basquiat's sadness and the tension of Miles' horn when Herbie messed a solo up. Something special and very unique comes out of this; the viewers can feel it as if they were actually there.
K: Tell me about your goals?
LT: I would like to have my gallery. I have a clear vision of my brand: a place where people can discover the combination of art and music. A creativity hub for other artists as well.
K: Do you plan to venture into other artistic expressions/topics?
LT: I will always be faithful and loyal to my values, education, core, and vision. There are things that I can't do. I have been asked to do nudes because I paint women or Star Wars paintings, but I had to pass. It is essential to "keep it real" when facing art. What kind of stories do I want to tell? I am a music painter. I will never make sociopolitical pieces, even commissioned. Music can handle social problems and tensions perfectly. For example, Marvin Gaye came up with "What's Going On" by observing the civil unrest in Detroit in the 60s while touring.
K: What are you most thankful for?
LT: Being an artist is not easy. It's an everyday struggle, full of rejections, letdowns, disappointments, and frustrations. But guess what? Over the hill is home. I enjoy the ride, I'm having fun and making great friends in the process. I thank God for giving me this opportunity to touch so many people around the world, from this little studio, with the vision and talent He gave me. It's a sad world we are living in. People deserve more happiness. Art will prevail.
K: Are there any upcoming showings?
LT: I do not have any scheduled exhibitions. I'm taking my time. Building up my catalog. However, amazing things will happen very soon. Stay tuned!
K: Can we buy your art? Do you do international shipping?
LT: Yes, my art is available in limited editions on my website: www.liothomas.art, which anyone can visit and follow on social media -to find hidden work and gems: Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to my newsletter to get in the loop. For shipping, I ship rolled-over canvas internationally on UPS ground and with fine art shippers and handlers.
K: Thank you very much for this interview!
LT: Thank you.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Thank Miss Stephanie Guerrero and Kimatika Music for making this interview possible. More stories are available on Lionel Thomas Art Studios blog; visit now.