NaturalBorn Studios, Creative Publishing
Hidden America. (Published, 2020)
The Hidden America Hardcover Book demonstrates how artist Lakeem Wilson gives activism a visual voice.
"The vision behind my Hidden America Book was to Capture The Culture from my personal lenses and illustrate hidden histories of America through the traditional medium of painting."
Lakeem's artwork serves as a powerful agent in affecting social discourse on hidden issues encompassing social justice, power, visual literacy, and urban black culture.
Organized by Natural Studios Creative Publishing, this book gives art collectors, fellows, and social communities a unique insight to Lakeem's current painting catalogue and life biography. The themes shown in this book open up dialogue within the contemporary art world and cultural narratives of today.
The NaturalBorn Illustrated
The NaturalBorn Illustrated project is a series of editorial style illustrations. Each illustration represents a concept or style that I am continually building on. This series is inspired by major illustrated publishing companies such as The New Yorker, MAD Magazines, and Juxtapoz Magazines but from my own unique perspective that gives a predominant voice to black culture and narratives.
I hand draw these original illustrations in my sketchbook, then scan, clean up and modify them using Photoshop or Illustrator. Occasionally I use these original illustrations to create looping animations.
Fine Art | Paintings
Each painting I create is concept driven and reflects a certain moral solution that I seek to speak on in society. My art practice takes on social commentary, and critiquing perceptions of black culture. Stereotypes and myths are challenged in my work; I create a dialogue between the ideas of race, identity, social climates, and conscious thinking by addressing visual literacy in the form of cultural portraits. My work challenges the notion of social norms—making room for urban intellectuals of color who are not included in this definition.
I start with a concept that speaks to a specific narrative or idea that I want to portray, the process concludes with using acrylic paint and occasionally mixed mediums, I block out silhouette outlines of the figure or object with gradually adding shadows and highlights and adjusting midtones to achieve a realistic quality. I often approach my paintings in an illustrative manner in order to tell a story through supporting symbols and elements.
My fascination with storytelling, character design, concept art and storyboarding attracted my interest in animation. Unlike illustration and painting, animation allows me to bring artwork to life by giving it movement, personality, and a bigger purpose. I started with making short looping animation and gifs, and now my animation practice is evolving into traditional and puppet style animation for sequences, and will eventually incorporate short films. The animation process gives me the freedom to imagine a world beyond the surface of paper and canvas and provides me with a platform to strengthen my digital art practices and explore conversations through keyframes.
I use creative softwares such as Photoshop, Animate CC, Storyboard Pro, as well as traditional hand drawing to map out storyboards and panels for a narrative I want to tell. From there I explore worlds and backgrounds that will set the tone for the story, and then I design characters to live in these worlds. Frame by frame I give my characters a cycle of action so that I can create seamless looping animations.
Sequential & Concept Art
I create sequence and concept designs with a production team in mind. My Storyboards serves the purpose of helping authors / writers, creative groups and teams to produce a vision for how their commercial, short film, graphic novels, children books, or creative concepts can come to life through sequential illustrations. The Storyboards I produce give clarity the ways that background and characters can function together for optimal story telling. The Character Design process gives me the freedom to produce personal and client based characters that includes dynamic action scenes, and expressive, unique personalities. My characters are created in a manner that can easily be edited and modified by creative teams and pipe line productions.
I use creative softwares such as Photoshop, Animate CC, Storyboard Pro, as well as traditional hand drawing to map out storyboards and panels for a narrative I want to tell. From there I explore worlds and backgrounds that will set the tone for the story, and then I design characters to live in these worlds. I use a Huion Cintique Drawing tablet to execute my character design and storyboard projects.
Art has given me knowledge of self. I extract the wisdom from my life experiences and embed them uniquely into each painting, illustration, and drawing that I create. My understanding of the world is reflected in the concepts of my creative process. When I immerse myself in culture, it brings me a freedom of expression that connects me to an unlimited source. I’ve grown to realize that I have the power to evoke change through my art, and help bring clarity to how people see the world. My creative voice allows me to bring a sense of equilibrium to activism and cultural empowerment. My influence and determination stems from my cultural roots growing up in South Dallas, Texas, an urban environment that against all odds showed me how even negative circumstances can produce a powerful will to be the change you want to see.
Early community mentors, family members and teachers motivated me to hone my creative gifts and continue traveling in a good orderly direction. I constantly analyze and destroy bad habits and unproductive mindsets in order to build on my innate skills and abilities as an artist, illustrator, and entrepreneur. I am the founder of NaturalBorn Studios, a full service creative brand that allows me to help individuals and companies bring their artistic endeavors to life. Art is the common denominator, and my ultimate goal is to create an impact and legacy so that my art can live in a never ending cipher.