The reply from Arthur Norman Jr when I asked him what were three things that he wanted people to know about him who may be reading about him for the first time. I got the chance to ask the artist behind what is arguably the most controversial cover to date, a few questions about his art, experiences and the meaning behind the cover.
Arthur Norman Jr (born in Dayton but raised in Columbus) has been an artist his entire life although he didn’t always take it seriously. He is talented in various areas of art including, graphic work, illustration and branding. He also does mixed media work that includes painting and drawing. He believes that his mixed media work is what he does most effortlessly and allows him to open up more creatively and inspires his graphic design work.
Arthur is a senior at CCAD and while he has been there he created a community art program for K-5th graders. He also works at an early learning center and was given the opportunity to facilitate an art class with a small group of kids for 8 weeks. The class was so successful that after meeting with the center Director and the class was turned into an entire program.
This past summer in collaboration with the center Director, Arthur launched the “Local Exploration Camp: Us and the Arts” The program focuses on children exploring the world around them from nature and fashion to liberal arts and learning to view it as art.
One moment that he highlights as a defining moment during his college career is when he decided to take a semester off in the middle of his junior year. He felt confined by the structure from school and wanted to take a step back to reassess. During his time off he was able to freely create which helped him feel reenergized and changed his perspective towards his classes and projects that he works on. When asked about his creative process:
“It depends on the project but I have to feel it and it usually requires a lot of experimentation and exploration. I need free reign though. This is what I struggle with the most about being in school. Mostly my process is being able to figure out the parameters of the project and then deciding to create in and around it.”
Designing The FPM Cover
The moment that brought this interview to fruition: the cover! I wanted to know what message the cover was meant to convey and what he wanted readers to take from it. Arthur says that it is the most provocative piece he has done but is something that comes from a personal place in his life.
He had gotten closely involved with the Black Lives Matter movement and spent a lot of time learning about racial injustices. As a result, he spent a lot of time angry and was extremely sensitive to everything white people said and did.
“My anger became a burden and it separated me from being able to work towards the problems I saw.” He went on to say:
“To me, Fuck You, for the cover is more about saying fuck fear, fuck the systems that are set up to tear us down, fuck the distractions and fuck everything that is trying to prevent me from being great. I no longer will allow these systems to paralyze me from accomplishing my purpose. Fear suffocates confidence and progress. It really is mental and if we allow these things to separate us from one another then we will never have the conversations needed for change.”
Arthur is an artist with a message and through his art wants to create opportunities for children to create. As a child, he was told there is no money in art and that it wasn’t worth pursuing.
“I want children to grow up being inspired to use whatever they’re great at to create opportunities not only themselves but for others.”