I used to be an accomplished artist. I completed the above picture the week my mother died. If you notice, on the water tower, my mom's initial's are on it (MJB....Martha Jean Brame).
It took years to develop my style, I combined graffiti and anime to create my own stuff. I initially used just pen and ink to create my work. I later discovered that I enjoyed color, using watercolor pencils to create images. I would draw paint off of the pencil with a brush and then apply it to the paper. It helped me create tight lines. Below are examples.
Years ago, I went to Hardwire Tattoo (in downtown Wilmington, NC) to get some work done on me. The place is on front street. I was matched with a guy named Mike who was to do my work.
Anyone who has ever had a tattoo done knows you spend some time with your artist. It takes hours to get one done....you somewhat get to know them. While getting my work done, I mentioned my artwork, which brought about a conversation about what I did. I explained it and elaborated about my other projects (T-shirts, comic books, video, etc) and this particular artist stated that I should bring my work into Hardwire so he and everyone should see. I sat with Mike for hours...in several locations to complete my tattoo...a tribal piece on my left arm....which was drawn by another guy (because Mike didn't know what to do or how to do it...) who longer associates themselves with this particular shop....that guy was awesome, btw....Jason! Jason introduced me to honey infused whiskey one night.
Anyways, I had a catalog of artwork that I had created for years. A lot of it was framed and matted. Some of it was black and white ink work....a lot of it was watercolor stuff. It took me years to create. I can't even imagine how many hours it took me. Hundreds maybe?
During this time, most of my artwork was in storage. Admittedly, what I did artistically wasn't something you wanted to hang in your living room. It had it's home....t-shirts, skate boards, etc....it was advanced street art. I did not display it in my home. It was in storage. I did occasionally drag it out to show interested people....everyone liked it...even if they didn't, it was very good artistically. My most successful experience as a commercial artist was creating a calendar which featured a ton of my black and white work.
Again, while speaking with Mike about my work (and showing him examples on my phone.....technology!), he stressed I should show my work, maybe at Hardwire. I agreed that it was just collecting dust. I agreed to bring it up to the shop, Hardwire on Front Street, to show.
I brought a tub of artwork up to the shop a little later. Years of work in it, it was a giant plastic tub. Mike was impressed and took some for his tattoo booth. Later on, he admitted that he had my work hanging at his home. I was happy, as an artist to have people see my work.
Shortly afterwards, I got married. I was working a corporate job...working all the time.
Inherited a step daughter. One day, on a "daddy/daughter" trip, I took her to Hardwire. While there, I stepped in to see Mike. I asked about my artwork and he said he hadn't seen it. He kept a few pieces (which he hung in his booth.....one was a George Bush picture with skulls) but the rest he hadn't seen. He said, I believe, the shop owner took them and wanted to scan them to make flash work. I was cool with this....seemed cool to have someone have a tat of my work as an inspiration.
Fuck me for not following up.
Fast forward to a couple of years later and my marriage had ended. My personal life had changed. I never had time to follow up on my artwork as real life stuff had come up. My job changed, my life changed, etc....my stored artwork wasn't my biggest concern.
Sidenote: My ex wife and I (during this time) are still friends to this day.
I can honestly say that my artwork wasn't a huge concern of mine. It should have been but it wasn't.
Around February of this year, I wandered into Port City Vapor. Guess what I found? My art work. I find it ironic that the same guy who own Hardwire owns the same Vapor shop.
When I went into this shop, I discovered my artwork hanging everywhere but it was no longer in Hardwire but a Vape shop. I took pictures.
I'm curious as to whom the artist to the above picture is....really, Justin?
Regardless, I spoke with the guys at the shop...all were helpful and agreed to to contact their boss, Justin. It took a week or so but one day, while in the vape shop, I was able to make contact with Justin in regards to etting my artwork back.
The conversation went like this:
Me: I appreciate you keeping my artwork but I'd like to get it back
Him: I'm not sure what's going on with your life but get the fuck out of my shop.
Me: Hanging up
Apparently, Justin believes I'm a heroin addict who would suck a dick and give away everything for some kratom. A. Never been a heroin addict. B. Never gave my artwork away.
Never loan your art...get a signed contact.
Possession is 9 tenths of the law. They had possession of my art for a long period of time, there
forth, Justin owned it. I never gave it away, just agreed to to show it.
Justin is a thief. My art was stolen. It's a shame you aren't creative enough to make your own income...you simply steal shit.
Months later, someone I know went into the vape shop....the art was gone. Who knows where it is now. Regardless, it is stolen and lost.
All the above is true. I never gave my artwork to Hardwire, Justin or anyone else. I paid cash for any tattoo I ever had done at the shop on front street. If I had given up my artwork to a tattoo shop, I'd have a sleeve or two by now. It was stolen.