April Featured Artist Q&A:
Demetris “BAMR” Washington
Photo by Roy Brandys.
Vibrant. Bold. Impressive. These adjectives are merely understatements to describe the works of muralist, painter, and creative being Demetris “BAMR” Washington. Weaving together his faith, his love for his family and community, and the “messy thoughts in his head”, Demetris creates layered and detailed works that can barely be contained on their surfaces — be they canvas or 10 story buildings. It’s no wonder that his talents are sought after by the Sacramento Kings, The California Endowment, Downtown Sacramento Partnership and others. Yet despite his growing success, the artist stays humble, always learning from his imperfect self.
This month we connect with the down-to-earth man with larger-than-life masterpieces. Learn more about his story below.
1. You’ve lived up and down California but settled here in Sacramento. What keeps you here in the City of Trees? What do you love most about this town?
One thing is for sure, the food here is incredible! But seriously, though, I have lived in many of California’s major cities and I draw inspiration from each of them, but for the past five years, Sacramento has by far been the most influential on my works. To be one hundred percent honest, when I first came to Sacramento I saw that the art market wasn’t exactly operating on the same scale as other cities I had lived in. I felt like it would be easy to become a successful artist in cities that already had a successful art market, and instead, I wanted to truly challenge myself while at the same time being hopeful of bringing the world’s attention to the rest of the great talents that Sacramento is the host of.
2. Your nickname is “BAMR”, which stands for “Becoming A Man Righteously.” What do you believe are the qualities of a righteous man? And how do you strive to achieve this standard each day?
While the name is rooted in my Christian faith, it is actually something that I use to hold myself accountable on a day to day basis. No one alive has ever been perfect, and no one ever will be, but the name for me, is more of a challenge to be a better, stronger, and wiser version of myself every single day. I try to act in integrity and be as honest as possible with everyone that I meet so that I may be the best possible example of a man for my two sons to look up too. The name is really all about personal growth and focusing more on working out my own imperfections as opposed to always pointing out the flaws in everyone else.
Some of his more recent murals can be found on the walls of WAL (Warehouse Artist Lofts). Mural: Handz Have Life.
3. How would you describe your artistic style to someone who is blind?
Although I wouldn’t categorize myself as a graffiti artist, I would describe it as a mash-up of culture, color, life, and characters. I would describe it as all of the mess that runs through my head on a daily basis that ends up showing up beautifully through visual expression of multiple mediums.
4. We are pretty familiar with your Health Happens Here fruit mural for The California Endowment on 15th and K (it’s next to our office!). Why was it important for you to work on this project?
This project was by far the most challenging of my career thus far, simply because I had to get over my fear of heights to complete it. What I gained from it was far greater than any dollar amount. I walked away from it with the confidence that I could do it again if asked.
One of the largest murals in Sacramento is B.A.M.R.’s work for Health Happens Here.
(Video courtesy of the Health Happens Here YouTube channel.)
5. Along with murals and public art projects, you are skilled on canvas. Which painting scale do you like working on the most and why?
I started off with very small canvas paintings, but nowadays I really enjoy painting on a scale of a 30”x40” canvas. They are just big enough to freely express myself with yet small enough that transporting them isn’t a difficult task.
6. Starting a non-profit is something that you’d like to pursue in the future. What would be its overall mission?
I actually put out a video on YouTube almost two years ago now explaining exactly what it is that I would like to accomplish through my nonprofit. The main mission would be to create a larger platform for artists within our city to grow, while connecting everyone through art in one way or another. There are many opportunities for artists here as of lately, but often times I find that they can be quite biased in the selection process.
There are many forms of art here and each of them speaks to a certain demographic. My goal is to utilize each of them to bring people together from different corners of this city that otherwise would have no association with one another. In a sense, I would be attempting to do what the Sacramento Kings have been doing for Sacramento for years.
7. Who or what personally inspires you?
Hmm…oatmeal cookies are on the top of the list. Bring me oatmeal cookies and I can paint all night. Other than that, good conversation, time with my sons and family, and every now and then a good movie helps. Oh, and I can’t forget trips to the beach. I could never get tired of ocean waves washing up on my feet.
Demetris began his career selling drawings and small paintings in his neighborhood.
Painting: Heart of a Jigsaw, Mind of a Rubiks.
8. What do you like to do when you have free time?
I don’t really have much free time these days, but when I do, I like to daydream. I literally leave the planet when I daydream. It’s awesome.
9. List three things people may not know about you.
1) I was born on a military base that no longer exists (Fort Ord).
2) Other than visiting Reno, I’ve never been outside of California.
3) My first and only tattoo is on my knuckles and reads “(R/L)oyalty.” The first letter is designed to double as an R and an L.
10. What does the rest of 2015 have in store for you?
This year has already brought forth many opportunities and I look forward to the release of the artwork that I designed for Blue Moon’s Beer label this June, a few more murals, and finally getting out of California to see the world!
Keep up with “B.A.M.R”:
Sacramento365 Artist Profile
Facebook / Tumblr / Instagram
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.