I would say all arts in general are equally important and there will always be a professional way of doing any of them.
About Whit by Whit:
-My name is Whit Ramsey
-I play drums
-I have two bands: The Villetown Mountain Army Brigade and The Empty Handed Painters
-Most of my work consists of charcoal or oil paint.
-I am working on my bachelors degree in fine arts with a concentration on Drawing and Paintings
-I’m from Jackson, MS
AH: I first listened to your band The Villetown Mountain Army Brigade at Big Sleepy’s in Mississippi last summer. My friends in Men and Mountains and Headwires were finishing up a tour and I tagged along to that show. I always find it interesting that no matter where the show is, there are always people willing to come out and support local music. Tell me a little about your band.
WR: With The Villetown Mountain Army Brigade (VMAB), Nick Maloney and I branched off from another band we are in to form VMAB. It started as a joke and to fill a spot needed on a bill at a local neighborhood art and music street festival. We wrote and recorded 5 songs in 2 days. We played all of those songs plus a handful of covers at the gig. Over that summer of ’14 we continued writing and have been releasing music ever since. Overall we have 3 EP’s and 1 full-length LP and are currently writing new material. We still take the band light hearted and solely want to have fun but we were both surprised with the decent amount of positive reactions to the band, so we felt compelled to keep it going. Band practice is also extremely easy to coordinate just being two people, especially being a part of another band together.
AH: Tell me a bit about the music community where you live
WR: I’m originally from Jackson, MS but I’ve lived in Hattiesburg, MS for about 2 years now. Both cities however have a heart for music. Growing up in Jackson, I was always surrounded by local music. My brother introduced me to the entire thing when I was about 12 years old and I haven’t stopped being involved since. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I started playing music live. Jackson has definitely had its ups and downs with a thriving local music scene but there have always been a handful of people dedicated to keeping it going. What I’ve seen so far in Hattiesburg seems to be very similar to Jackson; there are always events going on weekly with lots of locals excited about music.
AH: Although I know you from your band, you are also an artist. I was surprised to find this out. I have seen some of your work and it is amazing. It really is. How did you get started in art? Has art always been apart of your life or did you pick it up along the way?
WR: I’ve always been interested in art since I was a little kid but it was more of a little hobby. I always took art classes all the way through high school and whatnot but when I decided on college, I realized with help from Tony Difatta, a Jackson artist that has known my family for a while, that I needed to pursue fine art as a career.
AH: Before I choose to major in studio art I was a social work major. I was always afraid that if I studied art that I wouldn’t have the same love for it. I was wrong. Now I am much happier. I really love being an art major. How has school impacted your feelings about art? Do you feel that an education is important when pursuing art? Is it possible to be successful without it? Tell me a bit about the art program at your university.
WR: This one will be a long answer. On the first day of class starting this major my professor, Jim Meade, told us to leave whatever ego we had before and whatever preconceptions we had about art and to leave all out in the hallway. I essentially started with a completely clean slate and I’ve learned more about visual arts than I would have ever imagine even exists. I absolutely feel like getting an education in art is necessary. I have definitely realized there are way too many preconceptions and bad habits that come with amateur artist. There is clearly so much to learn that you would never find with YouTube tutorials, yahoo answers, and crappy art books at Barnes and noble. I don’t know if it’s technically not possible to be successful pursuing art without an education from a university. But I do know that all successful and historically famous artists studied and worked under someone else who knew what they were talking about. I don’t think you can just be self taught. Our department at The University of Southern Mississippi is incredible. I’ve developed a good relationship with all of my professors, who have all been successful and noted for their work. I’m very proud of who my professors are and I feel very privileged to learn from them. The drawing and painting program heavily mirrors the ways of the great artists.
AH: What are your favorite mediums to work in? What do you love about them?
WR: I mainly use charcoal when it comes to drawing and oils when it comes to painting. However I’ve used other mediums depending on the different studies that I’m doing. I love the velvety tone of charcoal and the thick application of oil paint.
AH: What are your goals, ambitions, dreams, etc.?
WR: I aspired to continue a career in drawing and painting for the rest of my life. Professor Meade tells us that it takes about 10 years to really start to understand what art is about and it’s the years after those that start to really matter. And the 4 years of studying art is equivalent to putting training wheels on a bike.
AH: What inspires you the most? Do you pull from certain life events or people when creating? WR: I always draw from life, whether it be a live model, still life setups, etc.
AH: I find that my art is constantly going through transitions. I don’t realize it when it is happening, but looking back I can see how I am changing in subject matter, mediums, skill, etc. Do you see this in your art? Is there a certain thing(s) that have stayed constant? Tell me some of your feelings about artists and their transitions.
WR: There are definitely different styles of art when you look at the history of it all, but ultimately they are all solving the same visual problems. I can look back on my work from the past 2 years and easily tell that I’ve grown since day one. These years are definitely open to discovering more and more about solving visual problems. The only things that have stayed consistent in my work thus far is that I tend to lean more towards linear design and composition rather than tonal. However I have worked with both ways of thinking and I’m not gonna limit myself to one way or another. Aside from that, the only consistencies I’ve seen are just when I am doing a series of works that evolve around solving the same problem.
AH: Would you say that art is more important than music in your life? If yes, why do you think this is? What makes them different?
WR: I would say all arts in general are equally important and there will always be a professional way of doing any of them. I don’t know how to answer this. Music is essential for the ear and art is for the eyes? Hahaha I guess if it stimulates the senses then it’s cool.
AH: What advice can you give to people that want to pursue art, music, writing, etc. but may fear putting their work out there? How have you overcome this fear? What pushes you forward?
WR: Well I don’t know if any of what I’ve said is worth a damn for advice but I’ll tell you what I’ve done. I pursued music by always going to local shows and supporting the scene \m/ until I learned how to play a little bit myself, learning from other people. And with art, I full fledged recommend studying art in a university under someone who really knows what they’re talking about and have studying under worth while people.
AH: Do you do commissions? If someone is interested in purchasing some of your art how can they do that?
WR: Yeah! I don’t plan on selling my work done in class but I have done work for commission before and will always be open to it. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
AH: Any last words?
WR: am I dying?
Connect with Whit:
Record collection: @1705vinyl