Artist PRO.FILES: Zeph Farmby

Ladies and gentleman, it’s with great honor that I introduce to you all,  a personal friend, mentor, and fellow artist, Zeph Farmby.  Zeph is a Chicago-based artist/illustrator/designer/entrepreneur making waves throughout the Midwest with his artwork, who was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to give us an in-depth look into his creative process.  I first met Zeph in the summer of 2006 at an Art Hop in Kalamazoo, MI.  Shortly after meeting him, I got the chance to work with him on a mural project for the City of Kalamazoo.  Upon meeting and working with Zeph, I was struck by his vision.  His creative genius finds an application for everything; there’s nothing Zeph isn’t afraid to do.  And I feel like he’s only scratched the surface.

All great art comes from a source of inspiration. What do you consider to be your biggest source of inspiration?
“My inspirations come from lots of things…my surroundings, books, magazines, and other artists to name a few.”

As a kid, when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
“Well as a kid I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew was I enjoyed drawing. Back then I was heavily into comic books. At 12, I was introduced to Graffiti and that sparked the new interest in my life.”

You’re the creator of I Amaze Eyez. Tell us a little bit about what that is and how it got started.
“Yes in deed! The Creator/Founder of I-Amaze-Eyez. After graduating from college I began freelancing for a few small companies. After a few years, I partnered with one of my best friends to create a T-shirt line we named “Allister & Askew“. Allister & Askew grew over the next 3 years and we built a strong name throughout Chicago and the mid-west. Soon, I decided I wanted my own identity as a brand and company so I started “I-Amaze-Eyez” Studios. I Amaze Eyez, houses everything I do artistically (painting, graphic design, murals, apparel, etc).”

What do you hope your artwork does for people? Any particular message you’re trying send to your audience?
“I want to open the eyes and minds of the mass population so people can get a better understanding of all art forms. I also want to push the envelope with Graffiti to the forefront of popularity. My message is to stop following tradition and let loose! Let’s build on tradition and create new ones!!”

Now you grew up on the Southside of Chicago doing graffiti. Have your Chicago roots and/or graffiti background had any influence on your artwork?
“Yes, my upbringing has everything to do with my art. My older siblings were into Hip-Hop music and break dancing but not really graffiti. Graffiti was something that I chose to move toward.”

Any crazy stories from your graffiti days you can share with us?
“This story is from years ago. Me and my crew were waiting to catch the city bus outside of our high school. We were standing inside the Plexi glass bus booth when I happened to take notice that there weren’t any cops around.  Immediately, I pulled out my sand paper and etched (tagged) my name in the glass. It was huge! Back then I walked around with a book bag full of paints, markers, sand paper, and shoe polish just in case I wanted to bomb something. I finished my tag quick and my crew started to imitate me thinking they could do theirs just as fast. All of a sudden, the cops pulled up told them to “drop everything in your hands.” “We saw you just writing you name on the glass!” Of the 4 of us, 2 were busted for damaging public property. The police took them to the station for hours and both of their parents had to pick them up. My other friend and I didn’t even run, we just continued waiting for the bus. The other 2 didn’t snitch on me at all. Since they didn’t have anything to tag with on them, the police just took them to the station for questioning (I guess). They both called me later explaining what had happened. I still bring that up to them from time to time.”

Neighborhoods on Chicago ’s Southside have been getting a lot of media attention from the recent increase in youth violence. Is this something new to you? Has your artwork/success been affected by any of it?
“Chicago has always been a violent city but the media always makes more out of nothing. Even thought this isn’t new to me, the crime rate has risen in the last few years tremendously. This hasn’t affected my work or success but it does affect my family and friends causing them to not have as much freedom as I did growing up.”

You are known for your detailed paintings of hip hop artists and urban culture in general. You also regularly do graphic designs for clothing companies. Is there any other medium of artwork you’d someday like to explore?
“Most definitely! I’d like to explore more with sculptures. I tried it a couple times before and enjoyed it.. That’s one area I’d like to become more familiar with along with photography and tons of other things.”

I recently had the chance to check out your new website. Visitors can now regularly read your blog and twitter updates to stay updated with your current work and future projects. For an artist that likes to keep his plans “secret”, why the sudden change?
“Thanks for checking out the new and improved www.i-amaze-eyez.com site!  Yes, visitors can get up to the minute details of my current work and projects. I’m still the artist who keeps his personal art plans a secret. I never liked sharing my ideas before I execute them b/c I think that will jinx my ideas. I wanted to change things up a bit and give my audience more of my personality and get to know me via my web site. I also wanted to share more of my freelance experiences with my audience.”

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or future plans?
“I can, but the real question is, “Will I?” Ah- ha! I’m only joking. My future plans will be filled with more art shows, a new and improved studio space and location, and more branding for I Amaze Eyez at minimum! I have a few upcoming art shows in Chicago and Milwaukee museums starting January 2010. I’ll have new limited edition prints available through my website as well.”

If you could go anywhere in the world and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?
“If I could travel anywhere in the world and do anything, I’d go to Copenhagen to connect with some of the Graff Artists there and be a part of the (huge) movement. I’d also travel to Paris to launch my career in fashion and establish myself as an artist there.”

Thanks Zeph!  Check out more of his work at I-Amaze-Eyez or follow him on twitter @ZephFarmby.

Bendey

2 Responses to “Artist PRO.FILES: Zeph Farmby”

  1. Can you like via blog? 🙂 Like.

  2. Zeph’s a dope artist, and a good friend of mine. I’ve always been a big fan of his work, and it’s always dope to see his work being shared with more and more people.

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