Black Artist Profile: Kevin A. Williams WAK

Black Artist Profile: Kevin A. Williams WAK

Kevin A. Williams is an artist on a mission, but his is no solo trip: He wants to take you on the journey, too.  His destination is a place where more African-Americans

 will appreciate, own and even create fine art that honors their rich heritage and hope filled destiny. So far, tens of thousands of people have willingly followed Williams to that vista – including talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, and actor comedian Bernie Mac.  From celebrity homes to small businesses, corporate offices and women’s spas, Williams’ original and lithograph artwork hangs from coast to coast.

In fact, his collection of 50 lithograph prints – created under the “WAK Artistry” signature – is the most widely circulated urban fine arts series in the nation.  Diverse in their themes, the art is painted by Williams in mixed mediums, and then produced as lithographs in various limited – and broad – edition quantities.  Williams also creates a number of commissioned works annually.

“I could do the wine-and-cheese events, but is that my calling?” I believe that my calling is more to the masses, to introduce them to art in a quality, creative, positive way.  If they evolve into people who love art, and then start to collect art, I want it to be because something pure in my work caught their attention.  If that has happened – if they’ve fallen for the pure message in my work – then my mission is accomplished.”

Velvet Influence

Dressed in jeans and a contemporary shirt, and sporting well-coiffed locks that graze his shoulders, Kevin Williams looks every bit the cutting-edge artist and entrepreneur whose busy day include juggling celebrity, retail and individual clients.  So, it’s surprising to hear this 21st century businessman reveal his old-school philosophy that is the inspiration behind his art.

“The velvet painting you saw in basements in the 70s…,” he oozes, as if he’s carefully revealing a secret.  “I can remember my parents and their basement parties, and the LPs, and the Afrocentric sculptures and all the blackness.”  His memories ring true for many, taking us all back to a time when kids peeked in on parents parties or finally got to see the Ohio Players “Sweet Sticky Thing” album cover, unfolded.

“The 70s seemed like a time of such sensuality and independence for black people to me,” he said.  “My early art definitely leans toward that sensuality touched with Greek mythology – a sort of ‘soul gothic’ inspired by black power and Michelangelo.” Williams says that the independence of Black people in the 70s that he so admired is right in line with the independence contemporary artists seek.  “Today, we have the freedom to create more expressive art that isn’t censored or restricted at all.”

The Most Amazing Gift

One of Williams’ most breathtaking pieces of work to date is “Anointed Gift,” the work commissioned by actor comedian Bernie Mac, as a gift for television personality Oprah Winfrey’s 50th birthday.  Commemorating her visit to and philanthropic work in South Africa.  The painting, which took three months to complete, challenges onlookers to see their gifts with clarity.  “People like Ms. Winfrey – people who have used their time on this Earth to help other – should look at this painting and, I hope, never again wonder why they were chosen to be influential or powerful.  I want them to understand that these are God’s gifts given to them to use.” Painting the work for Ms. Winfrey was, he says, “a spiritual experience.”

Natural Revolution

In addition to creating art, Williams also is Chief Executive Officer of WAKART, LLC, an urban fine art publishing company bases in Atlanta.  WAKART, LLC produces a diverse collection of original and lithograph prints for distribution to retailers and consumers nationally.  Williams’ line of WAK Artistry is the flagship line for WAKART, LLC, which will serve as an incubator for nearly a dozen artists specializing in urban fine arts.  In 2005, SoulVisions will support other types of new artists, from writers to filmmakers, says Williams.

“This company will grow to become larger than I am as an artist,” he says.  In the same way ‘Def Comedy Jam’ brought new talent to audience through the television show, WAKART, LLC introduces new artist to the marketplace and gives them the chance to cultivate their audience from a supportive base.”

Establishing his publishing company is the natural, next step for Williams, a Chicago native.  “People have called me a trendsetter in this industry, and that’s great.  What I did was reinvent art that inspired me.  Just like people who created hip-hop in the 80s now see it reinvented and expanded by new musicians, WAKART, LLC is my way of establishing a home for artists to reinvent and expand urban arts.  I want to create new art that will inspire us in the years to come.”

Williams currently resides in Atlanta.  For information on WAK Artistry, call 1-877-GET-SOUL (877-438-7685) or visit the Internet at

About WAK Artistry

The WAK Artistry line was launched in 1995, and began with as single print, “Taking Her Back.”  That sparked the creation of the five-work “Black Love” series which brought him wide acclaim, a 1997 commission from Motions, the hair-care company, to create “Standing Appointment,” (four women under the hair dryer) was created and is regarded the most popular art image in the hair care industry.  In 1998, WAK Artistry created “Cream of the Crop,” a collection of fraternity and sorority images and the next year marked WAK’s first appearance at the Essence Music Festival.  Recent years have included commissioned work for celebrities, such as televisions host and movie producer Oprah Winfrey and comedian Bernie Mac, as well as corporate clients.  He formed SoulVisions in May 2003.

Call-Out Quotes

“My work is inspired by life itself, so once a situation happens and I become consumed with it, and that consumption turns into obsession, and I can’t sleep, then it’s got to come out through my art.  My style is definitely emotional, not strategic.  That’s what has made it so embraced – the work is uncut.  If I’m going through an experience, I share it with the world, and nine out of ten times, someone else is going through the experience, too.  It’s like I’m opening myself up, admitting to my imperfections, my vices, my virtues, and from that comes my art.  When I share that art, it’s like a conversation I’m having with the world,” he says, adding that with his following, “We’re having a real good conservation right now…they’re feeling me.”



Pinky promise.


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