“The goal was to make a living from art… I just had to be creative with my movements.”— Vakseen
About Otha “Vakseen” Davis III
Our guest today is a multi-talented artist and music executive, Otha “Vakseen” Davis III (@vakseen). Vakseen’s work has been exhibited in museums and featured by major brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Bombay Sapphire Gin. He is also a diamond and multi-platinum music executive, producer, and songwriter.
Born to a military family in Athens, Georgia, and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Vakseen grew up artistically inclined, playing several instruments including the violin. He is best known for his vibrant acrylic portraits, including his “Vanity Pop” series that celebrates diversity, and the “Legends Only” series that celebrates pop and cultural icons.
Vakseen’s art has been described by one of his collectors as having the ability to set the stage for a much-needed therapy session that challenges one to get to the root of any issues hindering progress or living one’s best life. He believes that his art serves as his own antidote to maintaining sanity in the fast-paced entertainment industry.
Despite his success in the music industry, Vakseen has been an active contemporary realist painter since moving to Los Angeles in 2011. His work has been shown in countless gallery exhibitions and featured in over 100 print and online magazines worldwide.
Vakseen’s aim is to produce art that consistently ignites discussion, captivates the senses, and connects people with his culture. He hopes to inspire young creators, especially those who look like him, to know that their voice is powerful, it matters, and every single dream is possible.
- Maintaining High Standards: “I treat each piece as a one-of-one. And my only competition is myself. So that means that when I do this next painting, personally, I feel a little pressure like this has to be crazier than that last piece.”
- Creating with Purpose: “We’re given these gifts to create, to share, and once we share, and put it out into the universe, it’s important to take that energy and kind of live with it and pay attention.”
- Art Needs Marketing: “I wish I had known just the importance of marketing for an artist. You know, my first CD, we spent years putting this together. And then by the time we released it, I didn’t want to push that to anybody.”
- Perseverance: “There’s so much joy that comes with not knowing how to do something, figuring it out, and then making it happen. That kind of sums up the artist’s journey.”
- Standing Out: “It was just very important to have a distinct style, a distinct voice, something that people can recognize.”
Today’s Episode In Brief
- [2:31] Vakseen discusses his early love for art and his transition to music during his high school years, where he was part of a rap group that eventually became a duo.
- [5:18] He reflects on his achievements in the music industry, including having a diamond record, Billboard number one records and albums, and Platinum and gold plaques.
- [7:35] Brady Walker asks Vakseen about his relationship to creativity and collaboration in the music industry.
- [7:51] Vakseen attributes his success to his strong intuition, which has guided him throughout his career.
- [14:04] Vakseen acknowledges the challenges artists face and the lack of a one-size-fits-all guide to success.
- [17:35] Vakseen stated that consistency and growth are most important to him in his art. He discussed his journey into art, which began in earnest in 2012, after a career in music. He stressed the importance of a distinct style, which sets an artist apart from competition.
- [22:16] Vakseen shares his process of trying different things, putting his work out to the universe, and observing what resonates with people.
- [31:45] Vakseen explains the creative process behind the ‘Vanity Pop’ series.
- [37:42] Brady Walker asks Vakseen about the evolution of his artistic style and how it continues to change while maintaining a recognizable aesthetic.
- [41:25] Vakseen emphasizes the importance of consistent growth in his work, treating each piece as a unique creation, and always striving to outdo his previous pieces.
- [44:15] Vakseen discusses the joy of figuring things out as an artist, turning the impossible into possible, and how it is an essential part of the artist’s journey.
- [49:00] Vakseen shares his personal view that fulfillment in doing what he loves holds greater value than material wealth, urging artists to ask themselves similar questions about their own priorities.
- [56:19] Vakseen explains how he lost his love for music due to burnout and the pressures of creating commercial hits. He appreciates being able to enjoy music as a fan again.
- [59:44] Vakseen wishes he had known the importance of marketing for an artist at that age. He explains that he didn’t enjoy sales and struggled with promoting his work.