When Jimmy Banks, an artist and Duke Facilities employee, learned that the Duke Arts Annex was throwing a Mural Durham festival in 2016, he asked if he could paint an interior mural. Annex visitors can still see his work over two years later. In Fall 2018, student Sheridan Wilbur sat down with Banks to learn a bit more about his creative practice over many illustrations and paintings he brought to share.
What’s a normal day for you?
I work full-time doing electric work [for Duke Facilities] in the day and I do security work a couple nights a week and on the weekend. I draw in the morning. I draw at break, I draw at lunch time, I draw at night. I love drawing people and I take inspiration from movies. This drawing is from Tyler Perry’s Haves and Have Nots. The Tyler Perry crew followed me on Instagram and they liked my photos!
Do you take suggestions or does most of your art come from you?
Most of my art comes from me, but sometimes somebody wants for me to draw something. I'll draw it. I create a lot of portraits and landscape. I have [a mural] in the Arts Annex—I did that in three hours.
Do you sell your art?
Yeah, I sell. I do portraits for people (commission work). I’ve also worked on some children's books.
Where do you get your inspiration?
The old masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Norman Rockwell. There were a couple of artists that came to the NC Museum of Art that were awesome and I follow them on Instagram. I add a lot of things that are out of my imagination, too.
Do you have any plans in the future for your art?
Yes. I plan to hopefully get a gallery and a restaurant combination. I love to cook. For five years, starting in 11th grade, I was the head cook for Gardner's Barbecue in Rocky Mountain. I worked for Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner. He was our Governor for a year, Jim Gardner. I was his head cook. He cosigned my first loan, which was a car for a thousand dollars.
Did someone teach you to paint?
No. I just painted all the time when I was little. Once, I did an oil painting of the Last Supper. My momma gave me a paint by number set, so that's how I learned how to oil paint. That helped me learn how to blend.
Were you ever interested in pursuing art in a formal education?
Oh, yes. Eventually yes. I aspire to grow, and to eventually teach art. I was going to do it for one of the arts and crafts stores. You can sign up and teach at those places. Once, I even got a call from Hollywood.
You got a call from Hollywood?
Yeah. It was with this company called Raw. They're based out of Hollywood, and they sponsor art shows all over the world. I had submitted some art. It got approved, and then I had to build a webpage, and then I had to sell 20 tickets for $22.00 in four months. I had to do a GoFundMe page to help. I raised $400.00. Both Diana Ross and El DeBarge donated the cost of a ticket.
What do you think draws you so much to artwork?
I like inspiring people. I like to see people’s expressions when I give them their artwork. Sometimes I just surprise people and give them art as a gift. That's all.
Do you feel like you would ever want to pursue art full-time?
Oh, yes. Eventually I would love to do art full-time. It would be great to have a gallery.
What does art mean to you?
Art is just something that feeds the soul. It's relaxing and it's something that you can give back. Yep. That's what art means to me.