James Vincent, nicknamed “Oak” because he’s 6-10, 260 pounds, has a softer side.
Vincent, a center on Georgia State’s basketball team, is also an artist who recognizes that he doesn’t fit the stereotypical profile of either an artist or a basketball player.
“It’s fun to see people’s surprise that I do art and that I’m this big and have an artsy side,” he said.
Vincent, a senior, is majoring in studio art and hopes to one day own a graphic design firm and/or work for Pixar or a video game company, where he would like to draw and conceptualize characters, something he said he does all the time. Aside from the uniqueness of his size, his major is unique as well. He’s believed to be one of three athletes at Georgia State majoring in something related to the arts.
“In 26 years of coaching, I’ve never had a player major in art,” coach Ron Hunter said. “There’s nothing about James that says art, but he loves it.”
The love began when he was 2 years old and finished the video game, “Sonic the Hedgehog,” on his Sega Genesis. He began drawing what he saw and eventually decided that was what he wanted to do for a living.
He thinks the skill may have come from his mom, who would help him on school projects before he got to Georgia State. His sister, Jasmine Ward, draws cartoons. She says the talent may have come from an uncle who paints billboards.
Vincent began to realize that he could turn it into a career during his first trip to a museum when he was in fourth grade. He thought he was looking at art made by children. As he read the plaques below the pieces, he realized that adults produced the paintings and sculptures.
“I thought if they can do this and get in a museum then there’s no telling what I can do,” he said. “That’s what got me doing more art.”
He began developing his drawing talent at Northside High School in Columbus and continued at Georgia State. He proudly shows off a poster that he made for Graphic Design 3000. The poster is for a concert in which bands play songs from video games. It features a black and green background in which pulse-like circles emanate from the title. At the bottom are famous characters from video games. He estimates it took him between 5-7 hours to complete. He got a B-plus.
Another one of his favorite pieces is more personal: a poster to celebrate he and his girlfriend’s one-year anniversary. In the corner is a picture of an elderly couple, looking up at a picture of he and his girlfriend. Connecting the two are poems. One is by Maya Angelou and is his girlfriend’s favorite. The other is a James Vincent original. Vincent was proud of the work, not because it made his girlfriend cry (though he was pleased that it did create such an emotional response), but because when he showed it to other people they clearly saw the message.
“I almost cried when I saw that,” Ward said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. It was just beautiful.”
And it’s something that he few knew he could do.
He admits that because of his size he doesn’t look like an artist. Because he plays basketball, most people assume that sports are his one and only interest.
He was carrying a project through a cafeteria at school when another student asked him what it was. He showed them. Perhaps confused or impressed or both, he said they asked if we was at Georgia State to get an education or there to play basketball.
“Both,” he answered.
He actually finds inspiration almost everywhere but in sports. When he’s playing basketball or practicing, he said he’s focused exclusively on that. He doesn’t go home and sketch anything that happened in a game, even something abstract that was sparked by a person or even a moment in the game.
Instead, he gets his inspiration from TV, or video games, or trips to the High Museum with his sister. Once he gets an idea, he either draws it free-hand or on a computer. Ward says she thinks it’s wonderful that her brother found a way to incorporate two things he loves to do: drawing and video games.
“I love how it’s made,” Vincent said. “I love the colors. I love the transition from a sketch to a finished piece.”
Favorite artist: Picasso
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu