Delfin Finley {E} Artist Feature

Interview by Christina Diaz

Painting for a little over a year, 19 year-old artist Delfin Finley has always been immersed in a creative environment. Born and raised in the City of Angels his mom and Dad were both fashion designers and ran their business in their home. Delfin grew up watching his parents designing clothing, catering to their custom clients and attending Fashion Shows where they presented their lines. Creativity runs in his blood.

Delfin’s weekends are filled with visiting local galleries and hanging out with fellow artists, either in their studios or teaming up for one-of-a-kind collaborations. He says, “I have been seriously painting just a little over a year now. I work and go to school most week days. When I’m not painting, I am usually just thinking about how badly I want to paint.” Keep reading to learn a little more about this fascinating up coming artist!

{E}: What got you interested in art?
DF:  I have always drawn since I can remember. In middle school and high school I was really invested in graffiti, it’s all I would think about. Towards the end of high school my interest in art really escalated. I was raised with fashion as a back drop for my childhood, and even though I really appreciate and admire what my folks do for a living, I definitely gravitated towards street art. After seeing my brother Kohshin go through art school around that same time, and seeing how much it helped him improve really made me want to pursue my interest further. I am obsessed with Renaissance Art… taking in a masterpiece at a local museum can hold my attention for hours on end. I am captivated by the huge scale, lighting, mastery of color and the timeless beauty of these amazing pieces.

{E}: Were you artistic as a child? 
DF: In school, I always got in trouble for doodling instead of taking notes. I would draw on anything I got my hands on, it didn’t matter what it was… skateboards, tables, shoes, walls, notebooks, clothes, basically anything. When I was younger, my biggest interest was football, for some odd reason I was obsessed with the Miami Hurricanes. Little did I know at the time that my eldest brother, Azzedine, would end up graduating from the University of Miami, many years later. I always drew my favorite players like Willis Mcgahee and Ed Reed, instead of actually playing on a team. I was definitely known as artistic, since day one. Because I drew mostly athletes, I was admired and considered one of the cool kids, since everyone loved who I chose to draw. I also became a big fan of Basketball and drew many a basketball players, like Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. It was also pretty cool, when my parents started designing clothing for some of the biggest athletes in the NBA. I was able to meet my favorite players watch them play from courtside seats. My love for clothing started going hand in hand with my art.

{E}: Tell me about your art. How would you describe it? 
DF: I paint people in their most honest and vulnerable state. I like to bring pieces of the background into the contours of the figure, and have pieces of the figure fragment off into the background because I believe everyone is one with their surroundings in some way or form. I feel that my pieces capture my current emotions and mood. There is a sense of melancholy on some of my first pieces that really transfix the viewer, and a story is born within the person taking in the experience of my piece. I love how people tend to create a story behind the profile of a girl I have painted and this story usually unveils more about the viewer than the piece itself, or me, for that matter. It really is a wonderful experience to take this journey of discovery with the people viewing my work.

{E}: What inspires you?
DF: My yearning of higher fulfillment with my work and wanting to be better the next time is what inspires me as an artist. I believe my best painting is always my next painting. This is truly my motto and my driving force. I have gotten to the point to where I am excited to prepare the next canvas….allowing myself to be inspired to capture the beautiful moment in my next piece.

{E}: Where do you get ideas for your artwork?
DF: I get inspired by the shadow of the girl walking down the street, graffiti on a brick wall, to a conversation with a friend at a burger stand. I never turn off my Artist’s eye and my mind rarely strays far from creating a new piece…where would the light come from, what background would look good, what is this moment about, is it time to capture the moment? The process for a piece starts weeks before my brush even touches the canvas.

{E}: What are your favorite mediums and why? Is there a medium you enjoy over the other? 
DF: I really like drawing with ballpoint pen because there is no eraser to fall back on. You really have to make every markcount and try to work around your mistakes. I would have to say my favorite medium is definitely oil paint. The amount of versatility and different effects you can achieve are infinite. I always like to try and experiment with new mediums. Especially working at an art store, I am always surrounded by an endless amount of art supplies, it is kind of hard not to be intrigued by new mediums.

{E}: Discuss the process you go through to create a piece.
DF: When I am ready to make a new painting I usually think about how I have been feeling that week or an event that has happened in my life. Then I draw up a couple of thumbnails to see what would work best for what I am trying to communicate. I then take some photos for reference, once I have found a photo I think would work well in a painting I just go for it. I don’t really know what the finished product is going to look like. My actions are mostly based upon the feeling at that moment. I don’t really like to do 1,000 thumbnails and color studies because by the time that is all done, I have exhausted the idea already and it is no longer interesting for me.

{E}: How do you title a piece?
DF: I like to use titles to trigger an emotional feeling from the viewer. I think about certain stories or memories from my own life and use those events as titles. It could be a little misleading for the viewer, but that’s totally fine. To make the painting their own, they have to search for something they can relate with.

{E}: What does your family think about your career choice?
DF: Both of my parents come from a creative background and have always been my biggest supporters in everything I have ever wanted to do. They have both embraced my brother’s and my art with enthusiasm and great joy. If you visit either of their homes, our work is proudly covering every available wall space. Each piece that I have finished has quickly been hung up somewhere in our home. Without exception, my mom is heartbroken every time one of our pieces is sold and brought down from the wall, and yet the pain is quickly replaced by pride and excitement for each successful transaction.

{E}: Tell us about your current projects or anything else you’d like to promote.
DF: I am currently working on paintings for multiple group shows in 2014. I cant wait to show the world what I have in store!

Check out more of his artwork at and follow him on Instagram @delfinley

Delfin Finley {E} Artist Feature