I was grateful to be able to sit down with a very talented artist. This Queens, NY based artist goes by the name of HallaModa (25), is a fashion designer, muralist, and graphic designer. What makes him so great is the way he uses the gift he was given, to perceive his emotions, his daily life and create beautiful imagery. Moda first started off painting jackets, using an assortment of hardware and eventually he learned to cut and sew clothing as well. He began creating art around the age of 8 first beginning with drawing up comics through the inspiration of Marvel as well as other cartoons.
“I started drawing around as young as 8, I drew “Dragon Ball Z” characters and “Pokémon” cards where I would trade them in school with my friends, you know basically what kids were into when they were young but never was it anything formal.”
Moda was inspired by art since he was young and since then his work has grown and improved.
Moda gives his work the name “The New Black”.
“I chose that name because it’s very popular amongst the time I was born in and it’s what I’m seeing around me, you know what we use in the common phase, for example, pointing something out as interesting or popular and so in that I say that I am “The New Black. The whole reason behind or what it’s about is the generation that were in and how were just looking for direction. I feel like for me, myself and the people that I’ve come across are longing for something, whether it be knowledge or just experience is just beyond our means and so I try to bring all that together into my work using those kind of experiences, those emotions to create beautiful imagery. I feel that overall “The New Black” is a reflection of our times, the youthfulness of us all.”
Moda’s talent is raw and descriptive. When he attended school it helped him to gain knowledge about the tools that he would come accustom to using when creating his work.
“I went to the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) for fashion merchandising. I had transferred from a SUNY after doing two semesters at Herkimer County Community College (HCCC). I took a few painting classes that helped me learn a few techniques. School helped me to learn what kind of tools I needed to improve my work. I would say my favorite tool to use besides my brushes and varieties of paint would be the IPad , I’m lucky enough to live in the age of technology where everything is in my hand, I do graphic design as well so I can explore and do research on something to inspire a piece, or use technology to help create it.”
Moda has partnered as an apprentice and has done work with female artists known as Jocelyn and Dollie of Culture Cocoa Art-house. Moda has been a part of a series of creating murals called “Hip Hop Legacy”, his first one was created on Hollis Avenue and 198th street which he collaborated with Jam Master Jay and Jocelyncreating a mural that featured rapper Run Dmcwho appeared to congratulate the artist on his work after it was finished. As of future upcoming projects, Moda will be beginning a new mural project dedicated to “A Tribe Called Quest”which will be created in Baisley, Queens, NY. .Also I have a class that I am not sure whether I am volunteering or being an instructor for kids learning to create art for murals.
“I am also doing tour merchandising for “Soul Group Universe” as well as collaboration with James Baron, a designer in Queens which I am excited about so I have a lot of art events coming up in the next few weeks.”
I asked Moda if he had any future goals that he has not yet accomplished and he said,
“I would like to get my art out there and have my business further thrive, I would like to give back to my community of Queens, I want to invest in school art programs, anything I can do to cause immediate difference within the community.”
Moda is not only a brilliant artist but an intriguing fashion designer as well. When I first encountered Moda he was dressed in all black wearing a heavy black leather jacket, a black shirt, black ripped jeans, a pink cap, and a gold chain. Moda explained to me, “My style has always consisted of a mixture of Goth/English Mod/Grime. I like to be comfy/relaxed yet expressive.”
His presence was warming and through our conversation I discovered many aspects about art that I was not even aware of. When I looked at his clothing, it’s not like anything I have ever seen in my life. Unique isn’t even half of the word I would use to describe his work. I felt as if I was at a “Yeezy Season 4”fashion show, by the way the clothing was cut and bleached. It gave me a unique urban experience. Instead of just basic colors that you would find upon the Yeezy clothing, the material would have a very descriptive, very meaningful piece of art upon it.
As far as Moda’s, “The New Black” he explained he is only creating one hundred of these pieces of long sleeve/short sleeve shirts because he feels that is when his masterpiece will truly be complete. In our discussion he also explained his views upon the fashion world and it reminded me of an interview Kanye West had with Jimmy Kimmel, it’s the way he goes into detail about how people use fashion to capitalize business and diminish the arts.
“I don’t like that there’s a lack of substance within the art world, I feel like everything is about trends and the next trends and the way they capitalize from it. Being able to express yourself is restricted; it’s very territorial, it’s like a club you can’t get in if you don’t fit their description or unless you have certain credentials. I feel that fashion as a whole isn’t just about that, anything can be in fashion, fashion can be anything, do anything, I feel like it is just ways to capitalize off of money, I don’t really see the true passion in certain things, I see that in the everyday regular streamline of fashion. I feel like art should make you feel something. However I am not disputing all designers, there are works that show exactly what I am talking about, sad thing is it’s not enough.”
I asked Moda what inspires his art and he responded to me that it was not only the people around him but music as well.
“I am part of a rap collective, shout out to my guys, “Soul Group Universe”and so music has a great impact on the work that I create especially rap music, I feel it is universal and very transitional and in that when I’m working and just listening to music the vibe is perfect, the flow is perfect I mean everything is just right. It depends what piece I’m working on is what music I’ll listen to, I listen to a lot of house, electronic, you know a variety of different works. As far as inspiration of people, I’ve been inspired by everyone I’ve grown up with, there’s no one in particular, the people I run into or I see every day are basically the people that push me to keep me going.”
This is the environment that helps Moda to create his work. As far as fashion beside his art he explained to me that each piece of fashion should be treated like each piece of art you would see at a gallery. “What inspires me to make them is well, the customer, each item is one that is unique of itself, what inspires each one in particular is the point at where I’m at in life, how I’m feeling at that current moment, what I wish to know, then it’s also about my customer as well, what I want to know about them to infiltrate that into my work.
I use their experience, it helps us to figure each other out, you know like they say “each one, teach one”, passing information of each other along. Maybe I want to know about your day, I want to know what you know and what you’ve learned, maybe you could teach me something and I use that knowledge to figure out exactly what I’m looking to do within my work, all experience comes through connections.”
I asked Moda, what is the best piece of advice he could give someone who wants to pursue art, maybe even as a career ?
“It’s hard out here for artists but there is always someone interested in art, without art the world would be lifeless so stick to what you feel is best that expresses you and continue with that consistency, believe in your work, have passion for it and you will go far”.
In our interview Moda explains the meaning behind his brand “The New Black” and how it reflects our generation, the youth and how we are looking for direction, longing for inspiration and knowledge through experience. He explains his love for art and how creating his work, his murals, his clothing is his way of not only making himself known but giving back to the community and making the world a brighter more artistic place to live in. One important thing I took from our interview is that we are all artists, whatever we are trying to pursue, our work is never truly completed.
“I feel as an artist, your work is never truly finished, you just tell yourself when you’re ready to stop, you should know when to just stop, you know when I’m painting some of these pieces, I treat my art like a learning experience, I stop when I feel that I don’t need to add anything else.”
Author, Junot Diaz explains that: “the whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” True artists never rush a masterpiece, art is never truly finished work but work we tend to continue to improve and perfect.
If you are looking to view/purchase a piece of Moda’s art you can go tohttp://theoldblack.bigcartel.com/ or Instagram @thenewblack
Article Written By: Hollie Kawall
Follow me on Instagram@Holidayseasonnnnn
Photos Courtesy of: Moda