Patoo Gamechangers | Kriston Banfield (Artist)

The dynamic Caribbean is animated by the ideas, emotions and actions of a core community of influential insiders. The Patoo Gamechangers, like Kriston Banfield of Trinidad & Tobago, are people who are shaping the Caribbean region from either within the region or in the Diaspora across all corners of the globe. They are passionate, diverse and interesting whether they are corporate, creative or entrepreneurial ventures. 

Name: Kriston Banfield
Instagram Handle: @kbanfield122
Age: 24
Profession:  Aspiring Visual Artist
Hometown: Santa Cruz, Trinidad and Tobago.
Now Lives: Santa Cruz.

Three words to describe your style?
“Africanesque”, spiritual and surreal.

Your personality type is?
I’d describe myself as laid back but I’m constantly searching for the next adventure, the next experience. Essentially I think I walk the line between introvert and extrovert, looking for times of solitude while wanting to meet new people and exist in the world.

Your greatest skill is?
My greatest skill, honestly I think my greatest skill is the ability to overcome setbacks both physical and mental and my ability to adapt.

How do you work?
Sometimes I’d see something, or think of a phrase and instantly the image of a piece gets in my head, from there the image is hashed out in a sketch book which I carry everywhere with me. I play around with composition for the most part in that book, trying to understand how the characters would fit within that frame, what else is in there, why the other things are in there, all these thoughts are part of that step. The final stage is actually working on the piece, which in itself is in a constant state of adjusting and correcting finding the image is always the most difficult part for me, what was sketched in the book somehow has changed to something else, sometimes the image starts ok and then goes to garbage. The painting just feels like a giant preliminary study until the final lines or dab of paint is put down, it’s there, when I step back I really see the painting and it’s story displayed fully.

What’s your Background?
I was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago in the valley of Santa Cruz.  When I was young I’d always be sketching or drawing something in my copy books, there was always an idea in my head that I needed to get out on paper.  Fast forward a few years, I attended Queen’s Royal College for secondary school and it was during that 5th-6th form period I really grew and decided that an artist in some form or fashion was what I was going to become. That was a really rough period, the jump from CSEC to CAPE was most drastic and Art was a subject that consumed so much time, there was always something to do, work to start, work to finish but I found myself revelling in the experience.  there was a more serious start to my career during my time at U.W.I St. Augustine. During the 2nd year I was chosen to partake in the Urban Heartbeat group mural project which spanned parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. the work done on the Grandstand of the Queen's Park Savannah really was an eye opener, never had I worked so large and in a group. After that project I still continue to do mural work on walls in and around my community. As time passes I've continued to hone my craft, keeping my focus on becoming a professional artist.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I think the most integral thing to the work of an artist would be confidence in oneself. Too often you find artists and people moving towards that field reaching a state of doubt where you’re asking yourself, “Am I really good enough? How good is this work?” and I think it’s in these moment we need to trust ourselves and our work. At the end of the day, everything we create comes from who we are, our lives, thoughts and experiences.

What role does the artist have in society?
An artist’s major role in society is to inspire thoughts and emotions, as simple and vague that sounds I believe it’s our most important task. We’re working to share our view on the world as WE see it, the work can speak of troubles or beauty but its major goal is to reach out and inspire a period of introspection in its viewers sparking thoughts and acting as a catalyst for changes of perception. Kara Walker has done exactly that in her career thus far, engaging rich discourse on the topics of race, sexuality and gender that’s digestible for almost anyone experiencing her work.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Compared to wouldn’t be the word I’d use here. Three artists I’d love to be on equal terms with in my career would be Trinibagonians: Wendell Mcshine, Christopher Cozier, Brianna McCarthy. Foreign artists: Jasmine Thomas Girvan, Chris Ofili, Wifredo Lam

What's your hidden talent?
I’m pretty good at cooking.

Who is the last person you texted?  
That would be one of my closest friends, an artist living and working in Haiti.

The person you admire most? 
To be honestly I have two people for this question. The first would be my mom, she taught me a lot of sacrifice and working hard for what you want, as well as having a strong mental fortitude in the roughest of times. I’ve seen her make nothing from something and it’s always amazing to me how she has this ability, I guess in a sense ever parent has that ability, some more than others.

The second person I admire would be the deceased father of a good friend of mine. Where my mom taught me about working hard, looking at him taught me about working smart and grasping for opportunities whole heartedly while trying not to take life too seriously. I think he’d always be my role model and an example of how I’d like to live my life.

Your favorite art work?
I really don’t have a favourite art work just yet just a lot of artists whose work I really look out for.

What’s your favorite app – facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, snapchat or periscope? 
It’s a tossup between Instagram and tumblr actually. They’re both like my visual arboretum, I’m constantly being assaulted by the visual arts there. Sometimes there are images so powerful it just inspires me to start working on a piece or I’d see another artist posting a WIP and I say to myself, “nah, you got to get up and do something”. There are just so many fragrant visuals on these sites (depending on who or what you follow) that it’s pretty hard to exist in a state of “do nothing”.

What do you dislike about your work?
I feel like my work isn't dynamic enough, isn’t crazy enough, isn’t telling the story in the way it’s played in my head, it’s still too safe. I know my work is still growing and evolving and as of recent I’ve working on coming out of any creative comfort zones that I’ve found myself and my work trapped in.

Should art be funded?
Hell yes! The arts have been our way of expression since before the time of colonialism. Being here in Trinidad and Tobago I could definitely tell you I think the arts here are insanely underfunded and to an extent not given the importance it holds for our society and culture. There are so many artists not reaching their full potential because of constraints of space and materials. If we were funded to some extent I think you’d see a larger wave of creatives coming out of Trinidad and Tobago and better yet the entire Caribbean region. 

What role does arts funding have?
Funding for the arts should cater to space, as in space to work in (studios) as well as more spaces for exhibiting, be it an art gallery or a theatre. The second should be in the form of grants, have artists apply for a grant to do a body of work in cases where they don’t have the start-up capital to undergo the venture. Essentially funding facilitates creation, building our arts as an industry.

Favorite hotel in the world? 
I don’t really have one to be honest. I’d prefer a nice little bungalow somewhere in nature.

Coffee or tea? 
Tea, definitely tea. Earl grey to be exact.

Favorite Port of Spain landmark? 
It’d either have to be Woodford Square, the Queen’s Park Savannah, the Brian Lara Promenade or, Charlotte Street. Really choose one over the other.

What’s your favourite curse word?
Hahaha! Mother C**t is my all-time favourite. When you hear that curse used in a heated argument it just sounds like poetry. Each person just has their personal flavour to the way it’s said and it just rolls off the tongue, it’s like the bitters of a cuss out.

The thing you most value? 
It’s not really a thing… but I’d have to say the connections and experiences I’ve had with certain people I’ve met along my journey. Some really, helped me to be the person I am right now.

The most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Understanding your worth and always being focused on increasing it. On one end people allow others to belittle them and take their importance away and on the other end there are people who think they’re worth the world. I think it’s important to sit down and OBJECTIVELY introspect and really understand your worth. It keeps you humble and keeps you motivated, especially as an (aspiring) artist.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Probably the full array of the psychic abilities, telekinesis, telepathy, pyro kinesis etc