Today we’d like to introduce you to Ortie Rainford Jr.
Ortie, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Carson, CA. I’m first generation Jamaican-American. My mother was born in Savannah La Mar, JA and my father were born in Kingston, JA. They came to the states in the 70’s. My father was a civil structural engineer. My mother worked at the Braille Institute and later progressed into being an Immigration Inspector. I’ve always be artistic since I was a child. I guess it was due to the fact that my father was an engineer. I would draw Care Bears and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As time progress, I was introduced to comics. The very first comic that really opened my eyes was Spawn and ever since then I was hooked. Two of the comic illustrators that I’ve been heavily influenced by was Todd McFarlene and Sam Kieth, artist for the comic, The Maxx. As I got older, anime became integrated into my life.
Record of the Lodoss War was the very first anime that gave me raw, and gritty feel of how art in action could really spark your creativity in the most epic way. A few of the other anime’s’ that added a spark of creativity and abstractness was Dragon ball, Ronin Warriors, and Sailor Moon. I can’t lie. Even though that show was like Power Rangers with woman, it was an awesome anime. I attended a private school, Gardena Valley Christian School, a large majority of my life, so I was protected from a lot of the things that would affect the innocence of my eyes but going home it was different in Carson. There were gangs spread in the city of Carson. I had to find out the hard way once I left this semi-utopia school and was welcomed to Carson High School, home of the Colts. There is was introduced to the real categories of life: women, gangs, drugs, and just life in general. With maturity, grows curiosity and I definitely had my experiences. I would in turn trade that creativity with Track and Field to escape the problems of maturity. My home was built with both my mother and father for the first fifteen years of my life. Later, my parents separated and it began the reality aspect of my life which forced me to grow up even faster than I wanted to. Again, within that separation came rebelliousness. Many of my friends were writers, graffiti artists, as you would put in the art world. I would later try to dabble in the arts and such. I wasn’t heavy out there. I was heavily influenced by the writers. They would have me do my characters in their black books. Later, I would find my own “black book” and create more like my visual journal with all my crazy characters and such. It was never really a consistent place where I would create like I am now.
The very focal point in my life where things drastically changed was when I came home and found my father dead from a brain aneurysm. It like that scene in the Lion King when Mufasa was killed by the wildebeest and Simba was trying to wake him up but couldn’t. I think on that day a huge part of me died as well. I still was growing as a man and trying to find myself in the full understanding of life. I graduated high school and a month later joined the military. As fast as I had joined the military, I ended up going Iraq just as fast. The experience itself was traumatic to say the least. I definitely came home like I was institutionalized. While I was overseas, I picked the pen back up and began creating like a therapy for my now discovered PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Art has been my therapy for these conditions. I’ve been painting serious for the past six years.
My art work has been featured in the NOHO Gallery for a Black History Month Art Show in 2012 with famous artist, Otha, “Vakseen” Davis III and many other great artists. I’ve been a local artist in Long Beach for 2 years on at the now, Headquarters Shop, which use to Top Sekoms with owner, Jaime Sanchez. He’s created a great outlet for local artist to display their work, as well as, make them a brand. Even though I’ve had such great outlets to create, my biggest challenge had been to remedy these conditions that riddled me from the military. I still find it hard to function in society. I would take on the night jobs to have less interaction with people. Whenever, I’m around people or society in general, I have to have my sketchbook, my music, and headphones to separate myself mentally, you could say I’m a weirdo. It’s my quirk shall you say. For me to survive, I would work warehouse jobs that would be specifically the grave shift. I got tired of doing the heavy laborious work in the warehouses and I started doing security with at DIRECTV in Long Beach. While I was outside at night in the guard shack, I would bring watercolor paper and my watercolor set and brushes to stay up. In the process, I retaught myself how to paint. Night after night while on the job, I would exercise the opportunity to paint.
I would start posting every photo I did on Instagram and it was a very consistent process because I would start a piece and complete it the same night. The growth of my journey as an artist, lead me to move to Florida to get away from a toxic relationship and reconnect with myself. It has also given me great opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined. Rapper, writer, and tattoo artist, IkabodVeins had introduced me to illustrator, animator, Teflonsean, Bruno, manager/entrepreneur, rapper, Da$h, and, brother/manager of H’z Global, Stevie Skytel from New Jersey which we built a great rapport. I was graced with the opportunity to make Da$h’s Loose Skrew album cover which evolved into a music claymation video for “As If You Ain’t Know” made by art William J, Childs from London. It definitely placed a great milestone in my life doing something like that for someone so big. Organically while I’ve been out here in Florida, YordanSucks and myself have collaborated on a many piece given the synergy of our work. Furthermore, in my career as an artist, Glayson Leroy, head of the Galera Collective, has integrated myself with the Infamous LMA/GDC Crew.
The collective consists of Bulks, Ripes, Venom, Jerz, Lobs, Chnk, Dome, Ohlo, 3ways and now myself. I fall into the collective because of my aesthetic of my art. TeflonSean has been an integral figure in my art career by just giving me insight and strength in the growth of my craft and getting me into the gallery at CasaMondoMiami and getting my art featured in this previous years Art Basel at the Made by Slaves show. I’m looking to put on more artists like myself and further my career as an artist. I just seek to have my artwork in galleries all over Miami, Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My art is inspired by anime, fine arts, comics, and graffiti. I’m self-taught in various mediums from watercolor, gouache, acrylic, spray paint, digital (illustrator and photoshop) and newly discovered, wood painting. My art consists of characters from movies that resonated with me into my present life now; as well as, controversial figures. I like to spark the thought of “why did he create this?” or “why did he choose to paint this person?” My art is a part of my subconscious. It definitely depicts a lot of my emotions. Like Erykah Badu said, “Now keep in mind I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit. So y’all be nice about it, alright.”
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
I think that current state of art is definitely in need of the pure emotion aspect of art. It’s become more copy and paste type art. You some pieces that art original and you have so many renditions that are too cliché. Yes, we want to immortalize Biggie, 2PAC, and Bob Marley, but what about the other rappers and that have been forgotten? I think it’s easy for artists to thrive through social media platform, but hard because people can just screenshot your work and make reprints of your work and job rob you of your emotion so it creates a little bit of a barrier when you’re trying to show the world your work. I think that society needs to be open to all aspects of the art and actually artists because we all come from different backgrounds. In some areas that are pretentious, there is a little bit of a stigma to be accepted with open arms because of judgement. My advice is for these places, as well as artist, leave the ego at home.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can find my work on Instagram @ortie02. Feel free to contact me on Instagram. Message me or email at email@example.com. I may have a rough exterior, but I love people and is always willing to show love 25/8.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: ortie02