Andre Trenier is a New York based multidisciplinary artist. Born in the Bronx, art has always been a fixture in his life. His passion for the arts has led to a multitude of experiences across two continents.
Trenier is a graduate of the 1998 class from the University of Arts, Philadelphia. His career has been on an upward trajectory since then, with his first major gig was doing illustrations for the album Voodoo released by R&B artist D’Angelo in the late nineties. The illustration for the album ended up becoming a promotional posters rather than the album cover due to some pushback from the corporate side over nudity. “My brother provided me with the opportunity through his record label,” Trenier explained. Trenier has always known being an artist was always something he’d end up doing. However, the D’Angelo gig was the catalyst he needed to consider taking his art practice more seriously.
Drawing inspiration from his mother and brother alike, Trenier is able to create from a place of love which is evident in his work. Through this love he found reassurance in himself as a person and an artist. “My mom and brother taught me that I could find success in non-conventional ways,” he said. Trenier takes pride in being a Black artist and cultural innovator. This pride is translated through public art murals, giving communities a reason to get outside and explore their neighborhood.
Black artists represent their community’s creativity on a global scale that can’t be imitated or duplicated. “Being a Black artist is representation, and being a Black artists I feel there’s a responsibility on the representation I put out.” Trenier said. Art thrives off of originality and dies with imitation. “I try to be genuine to myself… sometimes it works, sometimes it does not,” he added. The authenticity Trenier believes in comes from his lived experience. His murals are an attempt to show human connection in a way that is easy to understand. His aim is to create a balance of interpersonal and cross-cultural connections through public art projects.
Art thrives off of originality and dies with imitation. “I try to be genuine to myself… sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.”
Trenier’s use of portraits in his murals is not new. His first mural was of his deceased friend in 2003. That portrait was dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of his friend – a beloved community member. Combining the use of figurative and abstraction art styles to create murals allows the community to see and celebrate themselves in ways that are not feasible in institutions. “My murals start off as abstract ideas that turn into figurative art murals,” he said. Sticking to abstract murals leaves too much to the imagination. Incorporating abstract elements into a piece as a whole shows the range in skills an artist brings to their practice. “I [gear] towards figures and portraits… I find something lacking if I do abstract,” he added. “Abstract works takes longer for me to come to a finish, whereas a portrait I know when it’s done. Abstract can be something I work on for years.”
“My favorite way to begin things in my personal work, is completely abstract, let the paint do what it does, and then building the realistic elements from there.
Trenier’s doesn’t stay stagnant, rather than be confined to New York, he has taken opportunities to participate in art battles in both the U.S and Europe. Trenier has competed in art battles in France, Spain and New York. Sean Bono is considered a pioneer in the scene and is responsible for bringing the stage worldwide through artbattle.com with the help of Simon Plashkes and Chris Pimberton. Art battles usually happen when two artists collaborate on one piece and the audience then votes for their favorite. However, this format has been known to change at the discretion of the host. These battles have paved the way for Trenier to build community while doing what they love. “Art battles are fun…I don’t [necessarily] like working alone,” he said.“The battles helped me because at the time I was struggling to get into a practice of doing pieces efficiently… working in the battles helped me work fast and polish it over the next couple days. It turned a handicap for me into a strength.”
“The battles helped me because at the time I was struggling to get into a practice of doing pieces efficiently… working in the battles helped me work fast and polish it over the next couple days. It turned a handicap for me into a strength.”
What attracted Trenier to art battles was the comradery. Working alongside others in a competition that brings a new audience to his work along with an occasional cash prize. Art battles were always considered a “win-win” situation for Trenier. “I like competition… [the art battles] forced me to not overthink things,” he said. The environment provided by art battles allowed Trenier to view his art making process differently. Ultimately speeding up his art making process by inviting new ideas and work flows into his life through the comradery gained from his involvement in art battles.
Trenier’s art practice is a testament to the power of creativity and family. Both are the perfect recipe for a content life as an artist. From the streets of New York to the main stage at art battles around the world – Trenier is prepared to share his worldly creative practice with his community. Doing so brings his life full circle and makes life a little sweeter. The changes in technology have brought his career to new heights and increased visibility.