The work I make is all about highlighting beauty, culture, and style through the drawing and painting of figures, forms and faces of black women, which invoke a sense of presence and passion.
Illustrator and Painter Steven Mckenzie is a Bronx native and graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a BA in Fashion design and merchandising currently freelancing in New York City. Growing up, Steven was consumed by Japanese anime, and Hip-Hop culture, which have always been present throughout all of his work ranging from women, and their beauty, to short comics about everyday life.
Working with pencil, ink, paper, acrylic paint and wood, he seeks to honor and highlight the beauty of people and culture, as well as the process of his own mind through the execution of crisp, bold, shapely, even, orderly lines and contrasting colors. Steven has always been an artist and studied art throughout various fields like charcoal, watercolor, and airbrushing from his youth, and continues to be a student of art, taking commissions as well as personal and corporate jobs, from illustrations and graphic design to wall murals.
Over the years, he has gained experience and knowledge in production such as visual display and vinyl installation, in addition to working with heat press machines, screen printing, and tattooing. He has worked with companies such as Uniqlo and Imani Caribbean Restaurant as well as participated in RAW Artist, BX Art Factory, and Greenpoint Gallery Showcases. When he’s not making art you can find Steven roller skating, eating, or hanging out with friends soaking up inspiration for a new pieces.
The work I make is all about highlighting beauty, culture, and style through the drawing and painting of figures, forms and faces of black women, which invoke a sense of presence and passion. Black women, black culture, history, Japanese anime and manga, and hip-hop are major influences present throughout my work, whether incorporated via hair, wardrobing, personal style, colors, or pose.
By focusing on the form through drawing with pencil and ink on paper, you get to see the alluring shapes, and distinctive curves while maintaining a feminine charm, while creating with acrylic on wood invokes a sense of boldness through contrasting colors and patterns, dynamic focal subject placement, and strong outlines. Through my love for anime, hip-hop, and black culture, I seek to create a space for people of color to find themselves in art, and bring a black presence to the manga genre and art scene.
I want black people to feel seen in my work, and for people to see a type of beauty they may have overlooked or undervalued, at the same time being exposed to a cool style not represented in the mainstream art scene.
I have always worked on conveying my message through pencil and ink on paper, or acrylic paint and paint markers on a smooth wooden surface. I begin each piece with a clean sheet of paper or a fresh sheet of birch. I create a template of what I envision, pulling inspiration from memory, magazines, internet sources, social media, outside, and books. After I have a clean outline and an understanding of my figure I begin to outline my piece so it boldly stands out from my background. After bringing attention to the form I paint or draw thinner lines to define details and shape of the figure. These mediums have allowed me to create the crisp, intricate lines which define my work and gave birth to my style. Lines allow you to shape and contain whatever you want to capture; they are the division between inside and out. They provide distinction, clarity, balance, feeling, and presence—all components found in all my work.
In addition to my studio work, I have created wall murals for Imani Caribbean Restaurant and Clark Atlanta University, designed logos for several emerging companies, sold commissioned work, and participated in RAW Artist, Pancakes and Booze, BXArt Factory showcases, and exhibited pieces at public art festivals and carnivals across the U.S.