Raw talent is hard to come by. It’s not only about being crafty or useful with a pencil, pen, paper, canvas, paint or any other mediums one might use, it’s also about having that ‘eye’ and being able to create something that will not only capture the human interest but the heart as well. An artist who truly does it simply for the love of it is something that everyone says they do, but is sometimes rarely felt through their work or how they project themselves. When you combine the two, well then you have yourself a recipe for creative greatness that is truly hard to come by.
Browsing through the news feed I came across some awesome portraits of some local artists here in San Jose and immediately thought, ‘Damn those are sick…” I thought that they had been drawn by another local artist and was pleasantly surprised when I learned that it was an artist from the East Coast who was here on a visit.
Her humbleness is humbling. Her talent is amazing. She is quick to respond and grateful in every sense of the word. With no professional training or schooling everything she does is natural. It feels good to support people of this nature & I felt inclined to feature her here with a few questions about herself, her work, and why she does what she does. Hailing from Boston, Mimi was here on pleasure. Her love for the Jabbawockees and the Bangerz brought her to this side of the country. Manager at a corporate bank by day, artist at heart, Jabbawockee fan for life, I am proud that she found so much love in our city.
-State your name & date for the record….
Mimi Thomes 06/18/12
-When did you start drawing?
I can remember drawing on classwork in 1st Grade. I also remember drawing at home all the time: snow scenes, Disney characters, fashion designing, nature, etc. But I was eleven years old and in sixth grade when the Art teacher showed us how to draw faces. That’s when I really started “DRAWING”. I remember running home from school on that very day and asking my sister to pose for me. Then I did a self portrait. And then I started drawing my friends. It just grew from there.
-What are your favorite mediums to use?
My favorite medium is black pencil. I have done portraits and projects in oil, craypas, markers, watercolor, colored pencils, ink and even crayons! But I love to use black pencil!
-Do you have any children?
No. But I helped raise my niece Tayla. She is now thirteen. I taught her how to draw a portrait when she was six. She is very artistic, too. In fact, the Thomes side of the family is very talented when it comes to painting, sculpting, sketching and crafts.
-What brought you to the bay that week?
In a word: Bangerz! Actually, it was much more than just that. Not only did I want to experience the Bangerz doing their thing live and in person, I wanted to meet all of the talented San Jose people I looked up to and admired from afar. I wanted to get a hug from each of them especially the ones I had already drawn. I had never been to California before (except to land at Fresno Airport to drive out to Las Vegas back in August.) My friend Sarai was supposed to go with me but something came up and she couldn’t make it. I had my heart set on going and so I went alone to San Jose for eleven days. It was the best decision I ever made and the best vacation I ever had! I expected to go to about three clubs and maybe meet about ten people. I ended up going to five shows including the Lion’s Den and the Ego Crushen show. I also met over FORTY of the people I wanted to meet! It was truly a dream! I met deejays and rappers and promoters. All from San Jose!
-Did you have a particular method for choosing the people you chose to draw or was it random?
Back in February 2011, I decided I had to meet the Jabbawockeez in Vegas. Had to! I bought two meet and greet tickets and wanted to do something special for them because they do so much for their fans. I decided to draw two portraits each of all seven of them. I had 18 days to draw 14 portraits. And on top of that, I hadn’t picked up a pencil in about 5 years! But I pulled it off and the Jabbawockeez were so appreciative! They hung the portraits up on their mirrors at their stations in their dressing room at the Monte Carlo Casino in Las Vegas at their MUS.I.C. show. The portraits I did for the Jabbawockeez appear in their twenty minute webisode they released called JABBAWOCKEEZ BEHIND THE MASK: ABDC SEASON 6 FINALE….although I believe it was not on purpose! Hahaha Fast forward to December 2011. I am a fan of the Specialist Music Group’s Ustream show “The Lion’s Den”. Don Prahfit mentioned to me on the show one night that he had seen some artwork at the Jabbawockeez show and that he found out it was my work! I was in shock! Don mentioned it would be cool to be drawn by me. So, in January 2012, I surprised him with his portrait. I had made my New Year’s Resolution to do at least one portrait a week in 2012. Don was my first. So of course I did DJ Ace Ramos and Robert Nasty Knock Castaneda’s portraits next. Once all of SMG was drawn, I wanted to do Randy W1shOne Bernal’s portrait, as he was also in the SMG chatroom as well as a featured deejay on the show. I followed him up with all six of the Bangerz. Made sense. Then the wonderful James Mak of Joysco contacted me and wanted to do an ad for me. Once that happened, I got some requests. But I already had a list of San Jose people I wanted to celebrate, honor and thank for their great work, accomplishments and contributions. The initial twelve portrait subjects were all indirectly related in some fashion to the Jabbawockeez and it then became a SAN JOSE thing!
-Who are some artists that have inspired you in the past? What about today?
If you mean painters or portrait artists and creative craftsmen then I would say my uncles and my grandmother. Today, all types of artists inspire me. Rappers like Rey Resurreccion and Don Prahfit and Noah Deeakili and Jeremy Oneself Davinci. Artists like Ratha Nou and Jordan Hu and James Mak and Jon Cruz. Music makers and deejays like The Bangerz, W1shOne, DJ Eternal, DJ Ace, DJ Quixslvr, Brotha Reese, Will Leeyum etc. Photographers like Robert Castaneda and Mark Sebastian and Sthanlee Mirador. Poets like Dandiggity Le. Writers like Aileen Christabel and Dante Scott. And of course, dancers like the Jabbawockeez, especially Rainen Paguio, Bboy Lancer, Eranetik Supreme, Flexum, Mike Song, etc. The cool thing also is that many of these people I named cross over into other categories. Like W1shOne is also a dancer and choreographer and teacher and he makes music! BBoy Lancer is a published poet, too. Rainen sings and plays guitar and acts. DJ Quixslver (Myke Agellon) also dances. And Noah can draw, also! Something must be in the water out here in California, especially in the Bay area!
-What is your day job?
I am the Assistant Manager of Loan Operations at a bank in Boston. Drawing is just a hobby.
-Noticed you are ‘obsessed’ with the Jabbawockeez. Can you give me some history on that?
Fell in love with the Jabbawockeez in 2008 while watching them on America’s Best Dance Crew. The funny thing is that they were up against a crew from Boston! But they drew me in and the minute Rainen started talking about Gary Kendell and the brotherhood the fellas shared I was hooked forever. It wasn’t until 2010 when I actually purchased a computer that I really started to idolize the Jabbawockeez. I discovered YouTube and watched about a thousand videos of them. I began to annoy my home friends on Facebook as I “Liked” and “Favorited” the videos, not to mention SHARING the videos! A couple of people complained and so I formed my own Jabbawockeez Fanz Group Page on Facebook. I now have 145 DIE HARD fans in my group. (Not everyone can join!)
-Whats your favorite kind of music?
I love a lot of different types of music! My favorite is Classic Rock, especially The Rolling Stones! But I love the Bangerz and hip hop and dubstep, too. I love 80′s music and soul music! And funk! Otis Redding, Al Green, Prince, Led Zeppelin, Eminem, Beatles, Beastie Boys, Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Pink Floyd, U2, Notorious B.I.G, Donna Summer, etc…. Lately, I have been listening to Rey Resurreccion, SubRen, Jeremy Oneself Davinci and Don Prahfit!
-How long does it take you to finish a portrait?
It takes me at least six hours to do one portrait. If I am pressed for time, I can do a portrait in an hour and a half, however, you can tell! The portraits I did back in February 2011 were all done in about an hour and a half to two hours each and they were also done at all hours of the night. I would work all day at the bank until about 7pm and then eat dinner, help my niece with homework and then tackle a portrait. Like I said, I virtually had 18 days to do 14 portraits. If you then look in July and August 2011, you can tell that I spent more time on each of the seven Gee One portraits. I spent three hours on each one and I spent about five hours on the Jabbawockeez profile line-up piece. Finally, when you look at the ones I did in 2012, you can tell I spent much more time on them. I had no pressure. I took my time. I also took my time selecting the picture I wanted to do. I would go to their Facebook pages and “stroll” through their albums and “like” several pics so they wouldn’t be able to figure out that they were my next subject nor which photo I had selected. In some cases, such as Dandiggity’s and Rey Resurreccion’s pics, I watched their videos and screenshot a cell! Rey’s is from his Hometown video and Danny’s is from one of his video blogs.
-How do people typically respond when they find out you have drawn them?
Humbled. Excited! In disbelief. Grateful. Elated! None of them have been “typical” reactions. That’s part of the joy I get out of doing this San Jose series of portraits. The best part is when I throw out a Facebook “sneak peek” of the portrait I am working on at that moment. I will maybe just show the hair or just the hat or maybe one eye and say SNEAK PEEK #1 of so and so. I tag them. Then I sit back and watch for a few minutes and see what happens. One said “WOW! Mimi is drawing ME!!” Another said “Please don’t do me ugly!” Hahaha Some just said “Oh shiiiiiit!” When the portrait is finally done and tagged and labeled and shared, I am in a state of excitement because I know it makes them happy! And I am so glad to do it! Each of these people gave me pleasure in some way, shape or form and I wanted to reciprocate and honor them in the only tangible way I knew how from across the country! I have to admit, if it wasn’t for Facebook and Ustream and the Jabbawockeez and the Bangerz, my life would not be what it is right now! I am finally living! For the past twenty years, I have been taking care of family members and working my ass off and neglecting myself in the process! I was not living a life! But now my life has changed in a positive way and I am excited to meet more talented San Jose people in the not so distant future and to see more of California. But most importantly, to revisit those I did meet in May. They told me I am family and an honorary member of San Jose! I love them all!
-I noticed that you were just interviewed for your job… How did that one compare to this one?
This interview is much more suitable because you gave me room to explain myself and to ramble on and they wanted me to be as minimal as possible! That is just simply not my style! Hahaha I want to thank you so much for this opportunity to share my recent experience in The Bay area and to shed some light on why I am doing this series of portraits! There’s many more to come and most of them are from San Jose.
-In 10 words or less – or more – describe yourself & where you want to go with your art.
I would say that I am caring, giving, positive, uplifting, supportive, kind, funny, clumsy, friendly, and newly adventurous! I’m not sure where I want to go with my art or where I will end up with my art. But right now, at this moment, I am enjoying the ride through San Jose!
San Jose thanks you Mimi. Keep doing what you’re doing girl…
Mimi Thomes can be found on the Facebook.