Anything with Nothing: Vermon “Howie” Grant

Vermon "Howie" Grant - Sleepy (Dela Vega City), photo: Charles Campbell

Vermon “Howie” Grant – Sleepy (Dela Vega City), photo: Charles Campbell

Below is a short video interview with Howie, one of the ten artists in the Anything with Nothing exhibition. The video was produced with the kind assistance of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank.

A young artist from Lauriston near Spanish Town, Howie paints memorial murals and paintings advertising bars, hair salons, restaurants and the like. He has also done an extensive set of murals for a music studio based in De La Vega City. Although the majority of Howie’s memorial murals have been painted out Howie continues to do memorial commissions on cloth banners. He produces very accomplished drawings and airbrush paintings. For the exhibition he has produced three large portraits of people who have died in his community and a fourth painting of dancehall musicians Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel.

Howie - Shenice (2014, in exhibition)

Howie – Shenice (2014, in exhibition)

Howie told us: “I was born an artist but develop my skills after High School – mostly self-taught … My first commission was from the first school that I attended. Starting there it created a big market for all schools in the surrounding area. I did a lot of illustration art on schools, churches and business places. Conditions apply based on the nature of the job, so if it’s someone deceased I’ll do a dead mural and if it’s a school I’ll do some heroes and something to enhance the mind of the younger generation. I get a lot of commissions for murals of the deceased because every day a man die a baby born, so in the field of dead murals in Spanish Town…it has become a great market. That market never dies… Instead of making it out in public now I do it more on a personal level – I do it on banners that are portable, so it will last long…”

“I’ve been loved by all based on my work and the person that I am behind my talent. I did not know that art was that wide – it is so surprising, so amazing, how many kids out there, how many youths out there born with the talent and there is a space for everybody in the field of art and it’s so sad they choose different ways, some die before they truly achieve what God had send them here for. So you’ve got to search yourself to know who you are and what you stand for.”

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