So I was scrolling around on social media as I do all too often, and noticed a gorgeous illustration that I instantly resinated with. I was surprised and utterly delighted when I read a comment by someone who said she had found the artwork in her area. As in she found it... Like, on a bench. As I kept scrolling through the comments, I noticed more and more people were finding different pieces by this artist around their city! I had to reach out to this anonymous artist that was planting these beautiful artworks and ask them what they're doing! Here's what the Phantom Artist had to say.
Tell us in your words what the Phantom Art Project is and how it came about.
Phantom Art Project came about on a random day when I was thinking the world was a bit messed up and that more positive energy needed to be put out there. To contribute some of that positive energy, I had to use whatever talents I had - and that was art. The drops would be my random acts of kindness. And because I wanted it to be about the why and not about the who, I kept it anonymous.
What are some of the responses you’ve had from the people that find your art?
Since the project started, there have been two groups of people who find my art. The first group - and who I had in mind when the project launched - is made up of random passers-by who stumble across the art. They take the art yet I have not had any interaction with those people. They don’t reach out and they don’t post. I really don’t know what happens to them or the art.
The second group - who came as a surprise to me - have found out about the project on social media and have turned it into a kind of scavenger hunt. It’s fun but I don’t know how to feel about it yet where the direction of the project is concerned, but it’s a thrill for them to score a piece.. I think a part of the thrill is that they feel that this is something of value, which I’m happy about. Part of the project is that no one piece is dropped more than once. There is only one of its kind. So you if you miss it, you lose. So there is some FOMO happening.
Do you ever hide art in other cities around the world, or just in your town? Where do you live by the way?
Well I'd love to get to the point of dropping them in different places all over the world. For now however, it's just in my country Trinidad and Tobago, which consists of two islands in the Caribbean. So I do my best to drop them all over the islands not just in my town.
Do you feel attached at all to the work you give away?
Not really. Not attached. I do put a lot of myself in it and giving that away is like sharing myself with others and that’s ok.
Do you feel you have a responsibility to share your art with the world?
I have a responsibility to do right in the world. Art is what I was given. It is my tool to do whatever good I can.
Do you intend for others to “see” and “feel” what you “see” and “feel” in your art? In other words, do you want others to get what you are saying with your art?
Absolutely not. I have my own understanding of why it is I’m creating each piece. I have my own message but at the end of the day it’s open to interpretation.
Sometimes someone on Instagram will DM me how much a piece has spoken to them. What they think this art means - what they see in it. Sometimes they see something in it that I totally would not have seen. It makes me see my own art in a different way.
Has your upbringing influenced your artwork or project?
Growing up, I was always a sensitive child. I noticed a lot and felt a lot too and I would always give you as much as I could. So in a sense that is reflected in this project. But the themes of my art are influenced by life and my experiences.
Is there a piece you’re most proud of? Why?
There are pieces that I like, but I am always looking to outdo myself with the next one. It’s always, on to the next one.
Are your artistic abilities a gift? Or something you earned?
I think we’re all gifted. So, by default, yes, it’s a gift. But you definitely have to earn the level to which you carry the gift. That honing of the skill… that you earn.
What is one thing that you want to get really good at creatively?
Seeing better. Distilling images into shapes and colours, shadows and highlights so that I can take what is in my head and be able to construct it on the canvas.
What does it mean to be original or unique when referring to art?
Just tell your own stories. There is no unique or original idea, but you can tell any idea in your own style. Just do you. Draw inspiration, don’t copy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given or could give to a young artist on the rise?
I heard somewhere that you should support your art, don’t force your art to support you. So advice I would give is to be practical. Do your art but don’t rely on the art to feed you. When you depend on your art to support you financially, money plays a greater role in your artistic decisions. You can start thinking about what people will buy rather than what you have to say.
Where else can we find your art, online or in person?
I’m building my website, so that’s coming soon. For now, Instagram and Facebook as @phantomartproject
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren was born in London, but grew up in Canada where she received her degrees with distinction in Fine Arts and Education. Now she's back, she continues her work in creative arts by making art and teaching it, while developing opportunities for early career artists by creating and running the online platform Dark Yellow Dot.