Arianna finds zodiac inspiration
Distracted in church, Arianna Simmons started drawing.
Her stick figures caught the attention of the artist Robert Bassett, who was seated in the pew behind. He gave the seven-year-old encouragement, and tips on how to improve.
Ultimately, it proved a stepping stone on her path. Arianna is one of four artists who will show their work in Four Four One, an exhibit that will have a virtual opening at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art next Friday.
It’s the first time the 23-year-old will share her drawings in a public display.
“I’m a little nervous about all the questions people might ask me but it’s not really in person so…,” she laughed.
Among her offerings will be a work-in-progress – a handful of portraits which include her take on each of the 12 zodiac signs.
“I grew up going to a Christian church but I never felt like it was the vibe for me. I don’t really like being told what to do or being told what to believe in. As I got older I started to do some research on what it means to be more spiritual than religious and I found that the information really resonated with me. I know that I am a very complex being, made up of many different characteristics, so astrology is particularly appealing to me. What I find most interesting about the zodiac signs is how we can all be made up of the same elements yet also bring our own uniqueness out into the world.
“I’m working on a series of zodiac signs right now. Twelve different people came to me and offered their faces for me to draw. I kind of just draw them in the style that I usually have and then I add my personal take on what the different signs are about. That’s something I was going to show [as part of 441] but it’s not really finished. I just have a few pieces to show.”
That Arianna had a talent for drawing people became evident to her mother once she put Robert Bassett’s tips in place. Her portraits are usually commissions which the full-time artist completes in graphite. Instagram has helped move her business forward.
“It’s always been a very peaceful thing for me to do,” she said of her portraiture. “I enjoy doing commissions but I really want to take my art to a different direction. I feel it’s very realistic right now and it’s kind of boring me to just draw everything I see. I like to use my imagination too with it.”
Her exhibit with Masterworks will include a self-portrait as well as a drawing of Nipsey Hussle, the American rapper and entrepreneur who died in 2019, age 33.
“I didn’t start listening to his music until after he passed away. His album Victory Lap spoke clearly to me,” Arianna said. “I was immediately inspired by his perseverance to overcome obstacles while also being an inspiration to the people close to him.
“When I’m drawing I feel range of emotions. Sometimes I’m happy and other times I’ll just cry but seeing the piece of art come together slowly brings all those emotions into one and I feel hope. I think it’s important to stay true to self and use criticism as a means to grow and reflect on what really matters.”
Largely self-taught, Arianna majored in business in university. She switched to art but then “I figured out it was not working for me”.
“My style is very much being free and not really following rules and it wasn’t the right vibe for me in school but I did learn some cool tips in one of the classes,” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic brought lots of opportunity; she’s thankful for the work.
“A lot of people come to me, especially around the holidays, or if they want a Mother’s Day gift or a Father’s Day gift, and I’ll just draw a family member for them. And then you have those people that just want to support, that just get anything drawn. But usually it’s just of people’s faces.
“I’ve been very thankful for that but I want to gear towards having my own art and selling it on my website and have a shop going,” she said.
As far as inspiration she takes hers from Nispey Hussle and “a lot of people who have passed away” who share her vision and outlook on life.
“The power to live a sustainable life is within us. I’m not saying anything’s wrong with a 9 to 5 but it’s not really necessary to have that in order to live comfortably.
“I want to take my art and be full-time with that and I’m really inspired by people that literally live in their purpose and their talents and make a lifestyle out of it. So that’s kind of what I want to do and inspire people to do.”