Dimonde Hale is a 25 year-old artist, living in Columbus, OH. His work, which includes paintings, graphic designs and video, is full of vibrancy and emotion. Below is an interview with Dimonde, as he touches on subjects of identity, place, and creativity.
How did you get into art?
I had a fascination for visual story telling. I've always had an interest in the stories and assumptions we make purely from visual evidence. The ways we assume whether someone is rich or poor, content or depressed, strong or weak, etc.. So my love of art stems from wanting to construct and manipulate those scenarios to tell a meaningful story. There is a power in our physical surroundings that can affect our mood directly. We like to think we have no control over it but we do. It's called architecture. It's called design. It's called art. I believe it's my purpose to be apart of that special group and share my stories and vision.
How has your identity shaped your work?
My identity has shaped my work and the direction of my art tremendously, but not in the ways people would assume. I’m a black male from inner city Columbus, Ohio. I went to public school and we didn’t have much money. That tells you so much about me, and nothing about me at the same time. I am so much more than where I come from and have been shaped by my experiences as an athlete, as an artist, as a student, as a son etc.. What’s truly shared between me and other black males (and other minorities) are the assumptions that are made about us. Much of my latest artwork aims to force people to see our humanity, our likeness, our emotions.
What obstacles have you faced due to your identity?
The biggest obstacle I have faced due to my identity is self-confidence. Art is already a very entrepreneurial pursuit in its nature. When you are a business and a brand as an artist, you have to stand for something real, something tangible that people want to support. But when you are a minority or part of a historically disenfranchised group and your work reflects that, it can sometimes make people uncomfortable. As an artist and a minority, you are forced to decide to what degree your work reflects your belief and background. To what degree are you prepared to create something that offends? In my opinion art that doesn’t reflect true sentiments, no matter how offensive or unpopular they are, can be hollow and lacking authenticity. So I had to develop the confidence to say this is my style, this is my art, this is who I am and if you don’t like it, maybe my work isn’t for you. That’s hard to do when you want to sell art. You want everyone to like your art, but when you are of an unpopular or irrelative experience, it’s impossible. I had to learn to be okay with that. It’s more important to be true to yourself and your style.
What fuels your creativity?
Nothing sparks my creativity more than being surrounded and fed by other passionate people. I believe we were all blessed with a need to create. When I see other people in their element and thriving in their craft, I naturally strive to be a better artist. It’s hard to be around someone who’s truly passionate and not catch the bug. I feel sorry for people who just float through life but aren’t really passionate about anything. A man who lacks passion or the drive to create either goes his entire life with a hole in his soul, or he latches on to another man’s creation and attempts to take credit for the fruits of someone else’s passion. I’ve seen it in action, and it’s sad. But in a nutshell, passion for positivity and creating encouraging environments has always fueled my creativity.
What do you like about the Columbus art scene?
The Columbus art scene is incredible right now and it’s actually expanding. Most people know about the richness of the art here. There’s the Wexner Center, Columbus Art Museum, all the galleries in the Short North, and pockets of artists in Clintonville. What’s amazing about the art scene here is there is a niche for almost every kind of artist. We don’t only pay attention to painters, we have events and communities for fashion designers and poets and dancers. Our city has a very inclusive art community and there are never a lack of events.
What advice do you have for other artists?
My advice to other artists is : get your work out and don’t be afraid to offend. I think we can be so focused on pleasing others with our work, that our work doesn’t please us. There are people everywhere that will appreciate what you do. They will find you and tell you to your face, but not if your art isn’t true and not unless you get it out there. Columbus is the perfect place to do it.
Do you have any new work you'd like to showcase?
I have a new body of work called “Return to Royalty.” This is focused on people of color, but it’s meant to provide self-esteem, and encouragement for us to return to holding ourselves and each other to higher standards. Standards for the way we raise our families, choose our lovers, treat each other, the way we dress, how we spend our money as consumers, and how we acknowledge God. I create work that I would hang up myself. What my soul is hungry for lately is self-esteem. They serve as a daily reminder that we are being watched. There is a story on my skin and in my features whether I like it or not. My art is my attempt to dive deeper into that story and perhaps change the course of its negative points.
What do you want to accomplish with your work?
I want nothing more than for my work to be a confidence builder and expand people's perspective. I want art that people will hang to remind themselves that they are powerful. Remind people that they matter and what they once viewed as a weakness (their race, gender, sexuality, flaws, history) is in fact what makes them strong. I want my art to remind people of the cities and vistas they were born and bred in, and the influence it has had on them. Galleries need more work like that. Our streets, homes and businesses need more imagery like that. I hope to continue a movement of meaningful art that penetrates our personalities and our values. My work should be a power source on the wall, like a beautiful outlet that people can plug into with their eyes and be instantly energized.
If I can accomplish that with my work, I will be doing what I was made to do. That's all anyone can ask of themselves.
To check out more of Dimonde's work - click below for his website!