What’s going on man, introduce yourself to the people
What’s up everyone, my name is Armani Howard. I’m a 22-year-old skateboarder and artist from Chicago.
How was life growing up?
Growing up was cool, all due to my mom. We grew up in an intense neighborhood, Roseland to be specific. I’ve experienced and seen things at certain ages I probably shouldn’t have, but because of the household I was in, none of that mattered. My mom always made things better and easier for me.
At what age did you begin to witness your creative talents?
My first creative endeavors came from cooking. When my Grandma came here from Thailand, she took a lot of jobs cooking at Hotels. Her cooking in the house got me excited to want to cook. Around 10-11 years old I was cooking non-stop. Following cooking, I started getting into skating, which eventually would change my life for the better. This guy moved into my neighborhood and randomly just gave me a skateboard. Within that same week, he moved out of the neighborhood and I never saw him again. As I look back on it, its crazy to think just how much this stranger ended up changing my life. Since then, I dedicated my life to skating, everything revolved around skateboarding. One day at school, I found out about an after school program called “After School Matters” and one of the programs focused on Skateboard design, in which the skateboard was used as the canvas. A guy, now friend, named Jourdon Gullett taught that class, and his class became my first introduction to understanding the art world. His work and what he introduced to me was mind blowing, and after that class I became hooked on painting, it was like a drug, I began painting every day. That summer I dedicated every day to painting, and I wouldn’t leave my house until I did 3 paintings and 1 illustration a day. I’m very thankful for the instructors at After School Matters, having great instructors kept me wanting to create art.
When did you first link up with the guys over at Uprise?
I met the guys at Uprise through my instructor at After School Matters. The program I was in was skate related, and so after every class we would go skate. One day as we were skating, I was telling my professor that I had a bogus board at the time and suggested I go get a new one. One day we met up after class, and he took me over to Uprise. I’ve went there before but not like this I remember as soon as I walked in, the shop captivated me. The guys were so nice and were very relatable. I ended up getting an Uprise board for my first real skateboard. After that moment, I would just keep going back, and going back, eventually the friendship turned into a family.
Talk to us on how you became Adidas Brand Ambassador
Uprise made this opportunity possible. Uriah Ruta, the founder of Uprise would always have brands to come to the shop and showcase their new merchandise. Every time I was there, I would dissect the clothing and comment on what I liked and disliked. One day, Thom, the Adidas Midwest Rep came by to show Uriah the new gear. As Thom was showing Uriah, I began commenting like usual on what I liked and didn’t like. A couple days later Thom mentioned to Uriah that he wanted me to be the ambassador for Adidas at the shop. I was stoked, I figured this would be a great opportunity because I love Adidas; I wear the brand, represent it, and uphold it. While at the same time, being able to be the voice for the shop to the brand.
Explain the reasoning behind switching up hands to paint some pieces
All of my work is based on kids that exist in a world without adults. Anytime you do anything with your opposite hand, its an exercise. For me, to paint with my opposite hand, it’s like the most natural side of me. I’m embracing it. The adult thing in this situation would for me to try to control the situation, where as the kid in me is allowing it to just flow and take over.
Recently you were in a gallery show Channel__. How did that show go for you?
Channel was one of my greatest shows. People came up to me that night and understood my work and where it came from. As an artist to have your work displayed and understood is a dream come true. Channel was one of those moments for me. I was able to see many people embrace the work for what it was. This was the first show that I displayed the variety of work I had. I did around 15 pieces for this show, and it really pushed me to want to have a solo show in the future. After this show, I began to realize more and more about whom I was as an artist.
One of my favorite pieces in your show was “Tight Spaces (Timeout). Tell me a little bit of the concept behind this piece
A lot of my work is influenced by mental blockage, and mental disorders. Tight Space is a reflection of what every person, no matter of color or age goes through at one point in time. This piece challenges the idea of depression, anxiety, confusion, and how you address it at a young age. Throughout my career, this has easily become one of my favorite pieces because it was the most reflective of myself, the most transparent.
After being in a couple of gallery shows now, how important are galleries to artists?
They’re definitely important depending on what direction you’re trying to go. I’ve been able to display work in galleries and places that aren’t. Galleries do help artists, but the most important part of shows is the networking that you do while there.
Do you think it’s important for artists to create with a purpose?
Yes. 100%. Any purposeless work is misguided it’s unimportant. People could say that its organic to make decisions off of instinct, that’s fine, but it still doesn’t translate to making something without reason. Creating without reason leads to no purpose. It’s an oxymoron but it’s organically thought out haha.
What’s your purpose behind creating your art?
I make my work to inspire those to live your life to the fullest you could live it. To not allow yourself to be trapped within this warped reality we live in. The purpose of my art is to show how much this beautiful world can give you, to show how much every human being can give you. My work is always in progress, striving to be better.
With your artwork being so deep, how often do you get stuck in creative block?
I actually don’t. Surprisingly. I’m inspired by life, and life alone has endless amounts of inspiration. I will always find inspiration by the things around me.
Are you content with sticking with painting, or do you feel like eventually you’ll transition into digital?
My work bleeds into every medium. In 2017 you will begin to see more digital work from me, Graphic Design, Illustrations, Sculptures, Sound pieces, just a lot more.
Out of all the pieces you’ve created, which one means the most to you?
The piece that means the most to me is the one I just hung up in my roommate’s room. Its called “Now That You’re Home (Fero)”. Fero means home, but more so like a comfortable space. My roommate inspired the creation of this piece; he wanted me to begin to introduce backgrounds, and to question my world of things. This piece encapsulates all of that. I eventually put it in his room because he inspired me to make this, while allowing me to push myself a little further. “Word Is Bond” is another one of my favorite pieces.
(Now That You’re Home (Fero)
(Word is Bond)
Who are some modern artists that influence you?
Man, there are so many, my roommates, my friends. Aside from the cheesy esque answers Andrew Hem, Sainer, Andrew Schoultz, Audrey Kawaski, and David Cho.
When it’s all said and done how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a happy guy that enjoyed life and everyone around me. I love all things around me, and what this world has given me, whether that is negative or positive. I took the most from this world and begun to enjoy the things around me and learned to not take things for granted. That’s what I want people to remember me by.
Written By: Nicholas Rud