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Art Simplicated – Exclusive Interview

L. NuNuu Sekou: What was your first “artistic” love?

Alicia Cobb: Rainbows. I’ve always been attracted to colors, vivid, bright colors. As a child, rainbows were all I would draw. I remember seeing them in puddles after it rained, In reflections from a piece of glass, & in my imagination. I always thought; “how cool is it that rainbows follow me everywhere” They’ve been following me since before I was born.

I was born to be an artist. I have paint running through my veins. My children are my biggest inspiration.

L. NuNuu Sekou: Did/do your parents foster and encourage your artistic abilities or did you have to find that drive from within as a child?

Alicia Cobb: I really had to find the drive from within. My parents split up when I was very young and art was one of my escapes from the sadness that came with their divorce. I did have a few teachers that saw my gift very early on. They were crucial to helping me find my place in this world. My parents are both still alive & well & extremely supportive of what I do now. I could not ask for better support than the people I am surrounded by now.

L. NuNuu Sekou: How have you managed to stay motivated and driven? So many people out there have to find the drive from within, just as you did, and fail at maintaining it for whatever reason(s). What has kept you all these years?

Alicia Cobb: I was born to be an artist. I have paint running through my veins. My children are my biggest inspiration. I want them to see for themselves that they can do what they love & find happiness in it. I also have an entire army behind me literally…My ancestors follow me everywhere I go, they are my guardian angels & advisers. I know that may sound crazy to some people but it’s true. I keep going because they couldn’t. My ancestors lived in a time of survival, not dreams. I have the ability to honor their memories & legacies by doing what they couldn’t, following a dream. I am also surrounded by the strongest, most inspirational people known to man. Just blessed and eternally grateful.

L. NuNuu Sekou: How did you venture into ‘body painting’? Who was your first victim…I mean subject?
Alicia Cobb: I was a face painter and loved the feeling of the brush on the smooth surface of the skin. The most amazing part was the transformation though; watching children become something outside of themselves.

I thought it would be amazing to paint an entire body and watch it transform as well. I ventured into body painting by divine intervention in 2009. I mentioned to my friend Ajani Housen, a photographer that I would like to paint a full body, at the time I had never seen anybody painting other than Sports Illustrated bathing suits. I wasn’t really interested in painting bathing suits onto women. I wanted to utilize the human body as canvas & create art, a masterpiece if you will.

I think the human body is beautiful & fascinating because of its curves & contours. A piece of art in itself. The thought of bright colors & bold designs seemed like a great idea. My first victim…I mean subject was a beautiful young lady by the name of Lalli Clarice Wells. She truly loved the idea of becoming art. I had nothing more than small paint brushes, a few application sponges, some brightly colored face & body paint make ups, & a very vague concept of what I was going to do. So for more than seven hours, I stood & painted Lalli, my friend Ajani was there to document it all in photos. She was a trooper & I learned so much in that experience.

I do what I do because I love it. I believe that it is what I am meant to do.

L. NuNuu Sekou: If you could paint ANYBODY…who would you select and why?

Alicia Cobb: I’m not sure that I have a specific person I’d like to paint. I think that my ideal human canvas is someone with a story to tell. I love when people call me for personal projects & they already have a concept in mind. Bringing it to life for them is an amazing feeling.

I think I would love to paint an older woman or man with wrinkles, & scars, & stretch marks or a person who struggles to see the beauty in their own body. When I paint people they are often fully exposed which is a vulnerable place to be. Once I apply colors, & designs they see themselves in a different way. There is a transformation that occurs, a certain confidence & it’s amazing to watch. I think the human body is so beautiful, adding paint is like a makeover of sorts. So I guess the short answer would be; anyone who wants the experience & can stand or sit still long enough to have it done.

L. NuNuu Sekou: You recently participated in a body painting event in NYC. How was that experience for you? What do you feel you brought to the event and what were a few of your take-aways that will enhance your gift?

Alicia Cobb: I recently participated in an event in NYC called New York City Body Painting Day. It was an inaugural event so I will always be able to say I was part of the first one! It was an amazing experience to be honest. So many mixed emotions from excitement to nervousness but the most prominent was gratitude.

I just started body painting in 2009 so I am fairly new to the game. I was invited by my most influential mentor, a fine body artist by the name of Craig Tracy. I first saw his work in 2009 right after I did my first body painting and discovered that there were actually other people out there that were doing it too. I think that grace, perseverance and luck are what brought me to that event and if you would have asked me five years ago, I would have never participated because I would have been too scared.

I took away so much from that day that has changed both me and my gift for the better; the most important were.

1. I can do anything I really put my mind to.
2. Never pass up an opportunity that my spirit tells me I need to take advantage of.
3. I am worthy of every blessing that comes to me.

L. NuNuu Sekou: Awesome! I believe that the “take-aways” are very important. Do you have any advice for those who are just discovering body painting and want to get involved?

Alicia Cobb: My advice to those just discovering body painting or any new venture is to embrace it, learn as much as you can and most important enjoy the journey. Discovering body art, or should I say body art discovering me has been one of the most rewarding things in my life. It is transformative, expressive and healing in every sense of the word.

I think that anything you pursue actively must be pursued with passion and I am a very passionate person.

L. NuNuu Sekou: Wow. I have seen your work progress amazingly over the years and have even had the honor of being one of your models. I believe your attention to detail and creativity when it comes to your style and photo shoot concepts sets you a step above many. What do you feel sets you apart from other body painters/artists?

Alicia Cobb: Thank you and an amazing canvas you were! I have honestly never thought about what sets me apart from other body painters and artists. I do what I do because I love it. I believe that it is what I am meant to do. I recently entered an application to my first body painting competition ever. I don’t know if I’ll get in but I’m hopeful. I think that anything you pursue actively must be pursued with passion and I am a very passionate person.

L. NuNuu Sekou: Well, there you have it! Please let me know WHEN your application is accepted. It’s a beautiful thing when your passion discovers you. I wish you the absolute best in everything you do. You are a phenomenal artist and I look forward to seeing your progression over the years. One last thing…How can our readers contact you and view your?

Alicia Cobb: I love that “WHEN” and I accept your putting that into the universe for me. I have a web site where my work can be viewed www.artsimplicated.com. I also have an art page on Facebook which is “Art Simplicated” Follow me on Twitter @artsimplicated1 and I am currently starting a blog on Tumblr. If you just want to drop me a line, inquire about services and pricing or simply say hello my email address is artsimplicated@gmail.com

About L. NuNuu

L. Nunuu is poet, writer, actress, host and spoken word artist who has has performed at local venues such as the Bushnell and out-of-state at Organix Soul in Springfield, MA and The Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City.
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