“I put my all into my work. With that mindset intact, you get 100% of me with every piece that I make.”
In this digital renaissance of artistic expression, it’s not hard to find someone creating something you’ve never seen before. We’ve all seen characters become colored in, portraits be painted, settings sketched with the thinnest ink ever known to man—but this has in no way limited the creativity that can be explored within these mediums. Nowadays, you have people painting portraits out of a plethora of different drawings; reimagining what the norms of “art” are in the present, and experimenting with what the norms can be in the future. The computer—probably the best “pencil” you could ever use—has given us artistic freedom like no other tool in the world, and some of the artists who have experimented with this tool have found all sorts of new mediums to explore and study to further progress their art.
Isn’t that the end goal for us all? We grow up to see our idols create their visions and bring us into their world, but some never assume that they can do the exact same thing. It doesn’t have to be done that exact same way, but the point is that it can be done. We all reflect pieces of ourselves within our work to format our identity for the future. Those who have been around the work long enough to notice the progression, after a certain amount of time, will feel that they know you as they know themselves. The digital renaissance has not only allowed us to showcase our work to more people, but grow with those people who can see it as time progresses—and truthfully, you could never meet one another in person. But solely because they’ve witnessed you in the presence of some of your greatest work, in a sense they’ve already met you. That natural encounter was built off the recognition of your work by people just like you through a global network of computers—this is cliche but I’m breaking it down for a reason.
One artist, in particular, I have noticed taking advantage of this digital renaissance is Virginia Beach native and graphic designer, Rashon—or Gvmini as many of his supporters would recognize. Rashon treats his computer like his own personal chemistry set, and what comes out of it is full-proof of that. From his psychedelic-style of graphic work to his ethereal sound of very limited production, Rashon does an amazing job of showing bits and pieces of his worldview within his larger-than-life pieces of work. His feelings, interests and ideas are all put together to create something that not only he, but others can resonate with as well. As an artist whose goal is to create work with a very similar feel, I was drawn to Rashon’s work like a moth to a burning house. It wasn’t too long before I too felt like a member of Gvminination, and knew that it was only a matter of time before I got the chance to sit down with him for a small discussion for Swidlife.
In the time since we sat down, Rashon has continued to release design after design with no intention of letting up—In our interview we spoke about his origins in art, the methodology of his work process, and a bit about what the future holds for him behind closed doors. Throughout the interview will also be pieces of Rashon’s work, feel free to click on them to observe more.
Who are you?
My name is Rashon aka Gvmini—I’m currently 18-years-old and I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I would say I’m a reflection of my work and vice versa; I’m a very visual person and a lot of my inspiration and ideas come from ethereal aspects of art. I’m a firm believer in always taking something to the next level and I feel that my art is an example of my nature to do that. As extravagant as everything looks, is how I see it through my eyes. I put my all into my work with that mindset intact so you get 100% of me with every piece that I make. That’s merely the surface level of who I am, but that art you see can show you more about me than I could ever tell you.
How would you define what it is you do?
I would generally categorize myself as an artist—it would be too confusing to stay tied to a subgenre or a category like that. I feel that encompasses everything that I do; as much as I work with graphic design, I also put my time into working on a plethora of other creative skills as well. It never just stops at one thing. I want to do it all so I never really limit myself to one medium or style at a time. I think the umbrella of being an “artist” speaks perfectly to that. I’m a multitasker if you will, just trying to find the time to expand in all of the different fields of art that I’d like to. A bit of a vague answer, but as short and explanatory as it needs to be.
Where did the name “Gvmini” come from?
When I was around 9-10 I was trying to think of a username that I could use for a very long time. I don’t think I was focusing on building up a brand name or an identity at that time, but I wanted something that defined me personally. Something I could use at any given moment without thinking too hard, and it made sense. So there I am brainstorming names when I start thinking about astrology signs. As I’m looking through them I find out that my sign is Gemini and I was instantly on board with it. I thought it was perfect, even with the “e” in it I didn’t switch it to the “v” until a friend recommended it maybe a few years later. It was the perfect decision because still to this day it’s me; as I’ve gotten older the name has resonated more with people and the meaner behind it has grown with me. Not to be cliche but I am Gvmini, I’m sure there can be others but there’s only one of me.
How did you first become involved with your artwork? Did it start out in graphic design?
Art has always been involved with me since the moment I began my work. I have a grandmother who is an art collector and she’s always had that artistic impact on our family—plus I have an older brother who is an illustration artist. So it’s safe to say that at some point whether as a small boy or a grown man I was going to have some interaction with some art medium, whether life-changing or not. The shit was written [laughs] But I can fairly remember one of the more personal artistic moments I had with myself when I was around 11-12 and I was messing around with FL Studio on my family computer.
Of course with that access to FL came the ideas of what could come from it, so as soon as I understood it I was hooked—and that was like one of the first things I had ever really got into. As I said I had art around me constantly growing up but not in my hands, so right there at that moment, I felt the inspiration to be great that any artist would feel. The next thing I knew I was learning graphic design, trying out something new in a different spectrum of art rather than staying with music—from there I came to my senses with how I could get what I wanted and focused a little more attention on my graphic design work.
Did you go into graphic arts with the idea of becoming a jack of all trades? Was it a transition into another experimental field or did the artwork have a direct correlation with your music at the time?
Yeah, it was more of separate thoughts at that time. It’s funny I don’t remember even putting two-and-two together at the time I truly saw them as separate entities almost. What really got me into graphic art was Call of Duty. Around 12-13 I was really into it, I watched all the YouTubers and involved myself with the community cause it was something I really liked. This interest in COD led me to experiment with the community more than I expected to. From there I would say I got my “eye” but that wouldn’t really come in until I got a bit older and fell heavily in love with music. And of course, music had always been involved in my life but it wasn’t until I was finding my own music to listen to that I found a love like no other within it.
So I began to do a little bit of “homework” if you will and practiced on some very early designs of some of my favorite artists. At a certain point, I saw a lot of my peers move into higher levels of the same art field that I was in. That just gave me the courage I needed to make that big step into what I wanted. I felt I had already taken it, but that moment of “what do I wanna do?” Was the real first step that would change the course of my creative career.
Do you have any idols or inspiration as far as art in general?
Yeah, definitely people like Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator, Pharrell, Lil Wayne—I’m probably missing some people—but all those people have a very serious impact on my upbringing and just me as a regular person. Whenever I thought of art those were the people whose creations I thought of. I want my work to resonate with my supporters like how there’s did with me, whether now, or in the future.
You’ve been in this field for a very long time for someone of your younger age; Do you ever see that as an encouragement to keep working or maybe pressure to stop?
Ever since I was really young I had told myself that I wanted to make art, but I didn’t have a plan or anything. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and you bet I didn’t know when I was going to do it—but I was as sure as the sun sets that I was going to do it. That was the one thing that when I got into it I was like “I wanna do this forever.” Truthfully there was a point where—before I saw any kind of support or recognition—that I was really hard on myself and felt like my work was meaningless.
But what got me out of that was realizing how meaningless it was for me to compare myself to my peers. Just as you said, I was young in the field with them so the qualifications had already been met. I was just in my own head a little too deep. So after that moment I gained new confidence within myself and just turned up, once I let go of that weight that I perceived was on me I flew away. Everything started to work out just as I wanted, and that showed me “yeah, I can make a future out of this.” which just pushes me every day to become a better artist—and not just for myself but for those who enjoy my work too.
How do you find the motivation to create and post your art as much as you do?
I think it’s just natural for me I don’t know [laughs] sometimes I think something is wrong with me but then I see my peers doing the same thing so I’m like “ok, well you’re not crazy so… keep going.” But I will say that because I don’t force anything that I put out, I’m always looking towards the next drop. If I don’t have any ideas to make something then I just won’t. The most I’ll do is play around with Photoshop for a while but that’s all it is. Playing around.
But I think because I’m so comfortable with my work and how I make it I always feel the motivation to create something new. Sometimes I’ll even see the title of a song and come up with a great idea. The next thing I know, I’m on Pinterest getting a bit more inspiration before I move into Photoshop. Also seeing work from my peers, that’s another source of motivation I get as well. It’s nothing like seeing the people around you work and gain their deserved respect because it pushes you to do the same. You don’t want to sit around while everyone else has fun so you just end up working on your craft. However and wherever you get the chance to. I do have art blocks though, in fact, I just got out of one recently—but that was really just me taking a few days to reflect and rest. Over exhaustion is the enemy.
Would you say that’s how you finish your creations? How do you know when something has met your artistic requirements and can be considered a “finished piece”?
I would say I give the piece a very hard staredown until I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. If there are no flaws and no spaces for anything else to be added, my brain will tell me it’s enough. I don’t really have a central stopping point, it’s more of a feeling. Honestly, that question is a very big part of my creative process; when I make something I normally get my idea put together pretty fast, but the extra amount of time comes from me looking at what else needs to be added. Sometimes I’ll get a new idea in the middle of making something and rebuild from there or save an idea for later. I don’t like to forcefully finish things in one sitting, if I can see more things to do I’ll get it done no matter how long it takes.
Your method of releasing your artwork resonates with a musical artist dropping an album, or even a photographer posting their most recent photoshoot. And your supporters show that same support with every release you have.
—How would you say your support system & methods of marketing your work has built over time?
I pull inspiration from other styles of art and how that’s released to the people. Just as you said, I try to make my graphic design releases almost like I’m dropping music or something similar. I take the ideas of promotion from people who make music or movies and how those commercials bring us to the product. Now I don’t say that to say I treat my marketing like commercials, but I treat it exactly as I should if it had a commercial—if that makes sense. When I post it’s like midnight and you’re waiting for an album, because you are. I would say my work tells a story more or less see rather than hearing like you would with real music.
Also, with that is trying to reach the core group of people who really do enjoy my work, I wanna make sure that anyone who enjoys my work can see it however possible. When you have people who really enjoy your work, the more you interact with them, you build a relationship with them. It makes them feel as if they’re a part of the working process, again because they are. I wouldn’t post without some of the reception I see from my supporters and that just pushes me to make better work to enjoy. Everything needs a core to it, and my supporters and my friends are my core. I’m very grateful for them.
Knowing that you have such a loyal, ever-growing fanbase do you ever feel pressured when it comes to releasing your new work to them?
I wouldn’t say it’s pressure, but more motivation. I was discussing this with myself while working on this new piece I’m going to drop—and it just hits back at the idea of how I finish my work. The motivation that I get to work keeps me going, it keeps my eyes peeled for the flaws and the errors in my work that may lead to its downfall. Knowing what I’m dealing with on the supportive end I always make sure that I release 10/10 work. Especially with the way people are now, the internet has made people very fickle so what was cool yesterday could be terrible today. But I firmly believe if you’re putting in 100% with everything you do, that won’t matter as much because no matter the numbers, someone will like it. If it looks good to me, I know it’ll look great to them. That’s just how I’ve always played it, the moment I start to feel any pressure I just remember that motivation and continue to work hard.
I’ve seen recently that you were doing a little bit of early promotion for the clothing brand you’ve been working on, before some problems with the initial creation/release process. For those that don’t know—due to —What are the details behind LUVR BOY?
I’ll do this without spoiling too much of it, but the idea came just from the word itself; like the word itself meant a lot to me. When I wrote it down on paper I just felt like it was the perfect description of me. It gave me the same feeling I had when looking for “Gvmini” you know? It was something common that everyone could feel, but when it came to me it was completely different. It was another example of showcasing my perspective on my own world. Not the one other people could see as I do. So at that moment, I was like “I have to do something with this.”
The very same day, I had that idea I went home, wrote it down and it’s been stuck with me ever since then. So even if it didn’t come that very next day, week, month, or year, because it stuck with me so deep I knew it was going to happen. And I still know that it will [laughs] I want it to be a very serious brand; I don’t want to rush my process with it because I want it to have genuine meaning and a genuine rise to the top. Just as how someone would look at a lot of these big-name streetwear brands we have today, you know? I want it to be important, I want it to be remembered. I’m going to begin more of the starting process with the pieces soon, I’m not gonna sit around because somethings didn’t come together but I know I don’t have to rush myself because of the vision I have for it. I’ve seen it already in my future so I just have to put the pieces where they need to go and just be patient.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve made?
I would say my favorite pieces right now would be some of my more recent pieces, maybe the “Flying or Crying” piece that I put out last week. That piece was special because I was going through a very tough art block for a long period of time. I was making pieces but they weren’t how I envisioned them—this one however came out way better than expected which was really great. That’s a hard question though because all of my new work ends up being my favorite piece. Maybe whatever I drop next week will be my favorite and so on and so forth, but that’s a great sign to me because that shows me I’m always getting better. I’m constantly upgrading my vision and my ideas without getting too far away from my initial idea. If my art in any way doesn’t meet those requirements it doesn’t become a favorite.
From the time that I’ve known you I’ve noticed you hold a prominent position in what some would call “Art Twitter”—How would you say you got involved with this community in its early stages?
I have friends that have been in that community for a very long time so when I started putting my work together it was very simple for me to get to know a lot of people within that same sphere of art on Twitter. It wasn’t like a club meeting or a vote-in, to be honest, it was just getting acquainted with people who did very similar things on the same platform. Networking grew to a massive collection of all types of creatives sharing their work on the internet.
Would you say it’s as easy to grow within that community as it seems?
It’s definitely a journey I wouldn’t say is the easiest thing to do, but if you’re genuine and move with purpose, it’s very easy to make friends in the right spaces. The bad perception of Art Twitter just comes from some of the cons that are brought with it. Some would say it’s cliquey while others would say it’s divided. Another issue is that a lot of the bigger artists within the community don’t support people of color within their own field of work and it’s a big problem. It’s a topic that people are becoming more aware of—due to artists who have experienced these scenarios of discrimination calling out and speaking up in tweets about it. Sometimes there is drama and clashing amongst other people for reasons unknown to me, but if you’re not involved with any of that and just doing what needs to be done—you’ll be perfectly fine. You’ll find the people for you just by being active, but it doesn’t start if you never take that first step.
What are your short-term goals for this year?
As of right now, art and graphic design are my current focus in everything that I’m doing. I have plans to incorporate everything else that I do behind the scenes but I’m laying down a foundation of sorts with my artwork. I don’t wanna be known as someone who does only one thing, but the way I go about introducing new things is all up to me. My end goal is being able to have something big happen within the design side of things—maybe a big placement with an artist or something along those lines. And with that will come the entryway into everything else that I do. I could do it all by myself but focusing on the art for the public while practicing with the new things in the shadows is great for my work. I’m doing more than I think I am because of my vague-ish end goal, but it’s more to be done so I continue to work until it becomes clear.
Are there any future projects you have lined up that we can talk about? Maybe further discuss future plans?
Well…. I do have some big stuff that I could be doing in the future that I don’t wanna speak too much about it at this very moment [laughs] but it’s some great work with people that I’ve worked with for a while now—I’d say over the past year—and they hit me with an idea so… We’re gonna see where things take us but not too much information now. Oh! I am trying to do some work with Matt OX soon, it’s not really set in stone or anything but we’ve been talking about working recently so I’m playing the waiting game until he needs me to play [laughs] but that’s kind of all I have to offer now. I’m gonna continue to drop my art as often as I do so that will keep people on their toes but the bigger projects will come out when they’re ready.
What would you say to anyone that is looking to you as a source of inspiration? What words do you have to leave for the rest of Gvminination?
I would just tell them that whatever they’re going through, probably will not even matter a full year from now. Don’t let anything stress you out, just take it all naturally and go with the flow. We all experience bumps in the road but it’s about how we get over them and not about them being there. That’s the road, you can’t really fix that. In fact, use whatever situation you’re in to motivate you to push yourself out of it. Use those same feelings that trapped you in whatever situation you’re in to get yourself out. I’m in somewhat of a situation myself and I’m working on getting myself out of it as we speak. Don’t get discouraged or give up on your ideas or your work; if that’s what you want to do then you’ll find success in it. At the end of the day, the obstacles you face are to make you a better artist and a better person.
To see more pieces of work from Gvmini you can follow him on his Twitter and Instagram where most of his work is posted. You can purchase Gvmini’s graphic work here. Also, make sure to visit his website www.gvmini.art to view the full collection of his work from the very beginning to the current styles he produces now.