I began with studying art back in LA as a young kid. I first went to art school when I was about 11 and went to big museums in Southern California. I grew up in South Central Los Angeles in the late 80’s and was very much a part of the environment that was driven by some of the defining elements of hip-hop: the violence, anti-social behavior, streets on fire. I was fortunate because my mother was very much focused on getting me, my twin brother, and other siblings out of the hood. On weekends I would go to art classes at a conservatory. After school, we were on lockdown. It was something I hated, obviously, but in the end it was a lifesaver. In art school, I just liked being able to make stuff look like other stuff. It made me feel important. Back then, it was basic apples and fruit and understanding light and shadow. From there I did the body and a lot of self-portraiture. So much of what I do now is a type of self-portraiture. As an undergrad at the Art Institute of San Francisco, I really honed in on the technical aspects of painting and being a masterful painter. And then at Yale it became much more about arguments surrounding identity, gender and sexuality, painting as a political act, questions of post-modernity, etc.