Travis Spinks is a painter based in Brooklyn, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011. He works mainly in acrylics, with a practice spanning across fine art and reimagined clothing. Travis was heavily influenced by the skateboarding and graffiti culture of the Bay area, where he spent much of his time after college. Travis' paintings have been featured in shows and on celebrities across the country.
Tell us about your inspiration behind your collaborations with TAIKAN?TAIKAN's bags are incredibly functional and stylish, and I wanted to put a little extra flare into each one to make an already stellar product shine even more. I wanted each bag to be a centrepiece of any fit, and i think i achieved that.
Could you share some insights into the creative process of hand-painting each jacket? How do you approach the customization of different brands' garments?
When customizing different garments, I try to look at it in sections. I ask myself, will this be most effective covering the entire piece, or will it look best as an accent? My personal style is modest and subdued, so i try to take that into consideration with each piece that i work on. I know that not everyone wants something super flashy, so the color becomes a big part of it for me as well. I love working in black and white. I think it makes a piece shine without being too loud or clashing with other pieces someone might be wearing.
Your background includes exposure to skateboarding and graffiti culture. How have these influences shaped your artistic style and vision?I think I originally gravitated to those cultures because I like to be silly and not take myself too seriously. I feel like skateboarding and graffiti allows me to be kind of a goofball while still maintaining a personal identity that others can relate to. I try to incorporate that into my art and clothing work as best as I can.
Are there any other artists, painters, or photographers who have had a significant impact on your artistic journey and the way you approach your work?There are almost too many to name! I love work that is playful and skews norms while commenting on the crazy world we live in. That being said I love the work of fellow collaborator Father Figure (@goodsbyfatherfigure) the insane graphics of Henry Johnson (@henry_Jawnson) and the insatiable work ethic of Adam at Snack Skateboards (@maison_bonesaw @snackskateboards). As far as painters go, I'm a big fan of abstraction and playfulness. I love the work of painters like Julian Caridi (@jcaridi) Brock Saunders (@brocksaunders.cap) Sophie Crichton (@mindfuzzz) and Mario Ayala (@lostbros) to name a few. My favorite photographer is Dave Schubert (rip @daveschubertsf)
Your paintings have been featured in shows and worn by celebrities. Can you share some memorable moments or experiences related to these exhibitions and celebrity endorsements?The craziest moment I can remember is when Drake wore my jacket for a performance AND for the filming of his "Sticky" music video. It was a total surprise. I made a jacket for a a buddy of mine that resells clothes on grailed (@viadeiservi) thinking not much would come of it (this was at the beginning of my customizing career) and three months later I see Drake wearing the jacket i made for Via at a performance in Montreal. I was in such disbelief i didn’t even think it was my jacket. I tracked it down to my reseller friend and said I think you sold drake a jacket! He said yeah i sell to his stylist a lot, i just didn’t think it was for him. fast forward a year later and I’m making a large run of jackets for Drake's Nocta brand, so it goes without saying that its been a truly wild coincidental blessing!
How do you balance your work between fine art and reimagined clothing? Do you find that one aspect of your artistic practice influences the other?
I always wanted to be known as a fine artist, but my brain works where I get lots of inspiration all at once for a couple weeks, and then none for months. So making paintings was always a dream that seemed unattainable. Now that I’m making clothes and living a much more healthy lifestyle I feel like my creativity is flowing a lot more easily for paintings. Working a ton on customized clothing is incredibly fun but I’m most fulfilled when working on a painting I truly care about. I think having all the time with my airbrush in hand makes ideas come to me much more freely without me scrutinizing every aspect of the idea.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists and designers who want to explore new and unconventional avenues for their creative expression?
Just do whatever you want. Do not worry if people think it might be silly or not worth your time, because it is. I wasted a lot of my life being in my head and not executing because of the fear of failure (conversely the fear of success!) If you have an idea, don’t wait to execute. Be present and know that even if the end product isn’t what you want, it's not the end of the world. Keep going and something amazing will come to you.
In the world of fashion and art, trends often come and go. How do you stay innovative and true to your unique style in a constantly evolving industry?
I’m thankful that airbrushing has come to the forefront of art and fashion, i feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. Also, airbrushing is so versatile that it can be applied almost anywhere, i feel like a jack of all trades with one machine! As trends move forward, I do want to always evolve what I’m doing, I think working on paintings more has helped me flesh out the ideas i want to execute going forward.
Can you provide some insights into the role of Brooklyn, New York, in shaping your artistic identity and the art scene in which you operate?
I come from a place where it's a lot slower than New York. I grew up in Texas and lived in Oakland, CA where (at the time) it was easy to not make a ton of money and still be able to live a happy life. Here in New York it's competitive and incredibly expensive to live here. I feel like with the type of person i am, I need extreme external/societal pressure in order to succeed, and I don’t want to live in a place that’s incredibly tough to survive in if I’m not doing everything i can to succeed personally and financially. I want to prove that you can be the type of person i am and still succeed in such a tough place.
What can we expect to see from Travis E. Spinks in the near future in terms of upcoming projects or collaborations with other brands or artists?
I’m in a group show at Good Mother Gallery (@goodmothergallery) in December and have a small linen coming out with Urban Outfitters Europe in the very near future! Other than that I’m always looking for new opportunities to showcase my art. I’m super excited to share with everyone what i have coming up soon. Stay tuned!!
Find' Travis' custom curated Spotify Playlist here.