In his 2008 book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” Malcolm Gladwell posited that it takes a good 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.
Young artist Christopher Minafo made a huge dent in that time by spending a whopping 60 hours painting a photo-real Beyoncé. He posted a video of the process and gained some social-media notoriety. Not only is he showcasing his talent, but Minafo’s stumbled upon a new genre of art.
Are artistic renditions of our selfie culture the next phase in expression? Will Instagram and Pinterest replace the Louvre or the Met museums? I took some time to talk to Minafo about his artistic style and his personal love letter to Mrs. Carter that did not involve Taylor Swift or Beck at all.
Christian Cintron: What prompted you to undertake this project?
Christopher Minafo: I had taken on this painting as a farewell to my teenage years. As an artist, my abilities have always been measured in comparison to my age. To me, it feels like there is a large divide between 19 and 20, and this was my last opportunity to show what I could make as a teen.
Beyoncé is one of the most-talented, hardest-working people on this planet. Her success is well-earned, and she has the most admirable work ethic I know of. This painting was a thank you for every time I’ve used her music as motivation to keep working.
Do you think artists need to engage more on social media to get their work out there?
I don’t think social media is for all artists. I like to make art that deals with people or objects in social media, so it make sense for me to use social media as a digital gallery. I want my art to reach as many people as possible, but not every artist has that same goal.
Do you think painting videos will become a new trend?
I would love to think that I could have that much influence in popularizing a whole genre of video, but they have existed for a while already. Who knows when they might become a trend?
You do a lot of photo-real portraits. What about this appeals to you? What do you think it has to say about art?
Photorealism is the type of art that still blows me away. I find that I can be moved by a concept in other forms of art, but I love to look at photorealistic work and question how that precision is even possible. Photorealism is a skill that can always be built upon, and as long as it still excites me, I can’t imagine not trying to improve it. Art is extremely individual, and photorealism may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve noticed that it is appreciated by a lot of people within and outside of the art community.
Have you gotten any offers for your Beyoncé painting?
No offers as of yet, but I haven’t really been trying to sell it. I would love for Beyoncé herself to have it, but until then, I am perfectly happy owning a 6-foot painting of Queen B — I like to make the art that I wish others were making.
If you could say something to Beyoncé what would it be?
If I could say anything to Beyoncé it might be, “B, can you pass the champagne to my side of the limo?” or “Your hair looks really great today!” But more seriously, I would thank her for always working hard and inspiring me to do the same. I know that it takes many tedious hours of practice to be great at what you do, and in my eye, she is, by far, the best at what she does. I would say all of this wearing a leather jacket and sitting on a motorcycle as to appear cooler, obviously.
What’s next for you?
In a perfect world, Beyoncé sees this and wants me to paint Blue Ivy every year to document how she looks growing up. More realistically, I’m always experimenting with new sizes and mediums, so its hard to predict what might catch my eye — though it’s a pretty safe bet it will involve pop culture!
To see more of Christopher Minafo’s artwork, check him out on Instagram.
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.