Explore the artwork of Masu.
The artist plays a key role in a rather chaotic and noisy world. Some add fuel to it, stirring up emotion and revving up the masses; while others calm it down, acting as a softly spoken reminder to people that it’s okay to comfort your soul, take a step back and soak up a beautiful scene that makes you feel you good. Enter Masu.
“I express myself through colour”
This interview, in particular, is one of the most exciting yet: it’s the first feature of the 8 With An Artist series. Masu talks us through her inspirations, the big role that Kendrick Lamar and Hip Hop have played in her work, as well as how she has gotten to the point where she’s currently at: passionate and understanding of her craft…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Masu I’m Masu “Artbysu” McLemore, a 22 year old freelance female artist. I was born and raised in Inglewood, California.
What inspired you to begin painting?
Masu I started painting at 19 years old because I got bored with my black and white drawings. I first started with colored pencils, then pastels, then watercolor, and once I got the hang of acrylic I decided to challenge myself with oil paints and that’s when “artbysu” was truly born.
What is that you get inspiration from?
Masu When it comes to my art, music inspires me tremendously. I can’t create without a great album. This is the main reason why I paint musicians because I have such a great connection with their work that I translate their lyrics onto the canvas.
Was it difficult for you to find your own style?
Masu Finding my own style was extremely difficult especially now when you have access to any and every artist via social media. I got caught up in wanting my work to be seen so bad that I would copy other artists styles which isn’t something I’m proud of. But after really sitting back and straying away from social media I found it. I ended up finding my style doing a watermelon study in my sketchbook in class over a year ago. It wasn’t until a month ago where I felt comfortable enough to translate that to canvas and now painting is 10x’s easier for me.
Your artwork features many well-known Hip Hop figures. In what ways has Hip Hop influenced you personally?
Masu Hip Hop saved my life, as cliche as it may sound. I was going through a deep depression during the time “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar came out. I didn’t create any work for almost 5 months prior to that album coming out and literally that night I listened to it I was creating non-stop. It spoke to me in ways I can’t explain. Kendrick Lamar and the entire Black Hippy team has inspired my work tremendously. Also having a mother who is heavily into hip hop, I grew up listening to Digable Planets, Busta Rhymes, Common, NWA, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, you name it. Hip Hop is apart of me and that’s why I enjoy paying homage to those musicians that move me with their music.
What kind of opportunities are there for young artists in L.A.?
Masu There are opportunities everywhere. In L.A. there is always something to do and there are hundreds of people out here trying to make it. I’ve met plenty of people just through social media alone and I’ve built great friendships with them. It’s all about getting out of your shell, going out, and networking. You’re really on your own out here.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of going into the arts?
Masu The art world is more than just likes, retweets, and pleasing others. Art is about doing it for YOU because it makes you feel great. Don’t try to hop on the art bandwagon because it seems cool, because trust me like everything else it’s stressful. Create because it brings joy into your life, make what you want for YOU. Also put in those 10,000hours in order to perfect your craft.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve done?
Masu Currently, my newest painting “To Pimp A Butterfly” is my favorite. I really was in tune with this painting and everything was thought out and planned. Every brush stroke, every color, it was all intentional. I have a special connection with it because I’ve been wanting to paint it for months and now that it’s done it’s like my baby.
To view more Artbysu work go check her out on her newly revamped website. Also follow her on the socials – she’s everywhere!