I recently met up with the very talented and tuned in Mr Cain The Abyss to talk about art, the universe and Hip Hop!
We both exhibited at Highlight Nation’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ 90’s exhibition in 2018, and I’ve been following his journey on Instagram & YouTube since discovering his work at their Tupac exhibition in 2017; so of course I jumped at the opportunity to interview this talented young man.
Let’s start with your journey into the art realm.…where did it begin?
Cain- I feel like I’ve always been in it! Ever since I can remember, I’ve been trying to manifest my ideas into reality, on paper, canvas, anything I can get my hands on!
One of my earliest memories is about the age of 4 or 5 years old, I used to sit and cry because I couldn’t always draw things how I wanted them to look, so I’d obsessively keep drawing something and not move until I got it right!
I feel I need to use my hands to express what’s in my mind visually, some people say they get artist’s block, I feel I’m the opposite, for me I have so many ideas, I feel I won’t manifest them all in this lifetime! But as long as I can be in flow and get the majority out, I’ll be happy, and to inspire others to be creative too would be great.
Who or what is your influence?
Cain- My influences…Salvador Dali, Alex Grey…psychedelic, otherworldly ethereal type of art really grabs me.
At the same time, I can appreciate different forms of art like a Michael Angelo type of painting, it’s something I’m trying to do now, fuse that absurd spiritual, surreal element with a more traditional format to see what I can create.
I have inspirations all over the place, the greatest & most recent being, Nipsey Hussle, pushing for ownership and owning your empire — building things vertically, that’s how I want to be; playing life on my terms.
Let’s talk about spirituality and manifesting, you have your YouTube channel featuring lots of videos about manifesting.…you’re so young to have found this gift, where does the drive for that come from!?
Cain- Honestly…my ancestors who have done all the work before me. I feel their spirit inside me. I can feel them! I have voices in my head (I know it sounds crazy) whispering & telling me what to do, and every time I’ve gone against my intuition, I see why I shouldn’t have. Your DNA is a memory bank, we just have to tap into that inner compass and live by it, amazing things can happen for you. Really my main goal is to know myself.
It seems to come naturally to you, so you’re in a plus place.….
Cain- I think it’s come naturally to me because I’ve stayed in touch with my childhood.…I’m an artist right now and when I was a child, that’s what my play was. You’re subconsciously guided (in this society) to let go of what you played with, people say to you ‘it’s time to grow up’
Yes! “art’s not a job!”
Cain- exactly! be stubborn, cling onto your childlike self, children are in tune, they’re our template. Look at older people, they age backwards mentally — despite the physical, they become more playful and open, more accepting of being in the moment. We are constantly trained to think for the future and out of the present moment. All that power is in you now, and that’s my motivation… accessing that power NOW!
Tell us about the workshops I saw you recently did with primary school children
Cain- I definitely want to do more …today’s kids are light years ahead! The workshop I did was called ‘The Imagination workshop, I centred it around the idea that everything in your reality has come from someone’s imagination. I asked them; ‘Look around the room everyone, what’s the common thing connecting what you see’.…the answer was, that everything in the room came from someone’s mind first, they were like “WOW!”, it helped the children realise that they too have this power…they can make everything they want.
We then made a collective collage, called the ‘Power Word Galaxy’, where the children (years 4&5) contributed their choice of power words, in the middle it said I AM…and children added to it… I am positive, spiritual, happy, blessed etc.
The idea was to inspire the next generation to aspire to be great. I believe the people that come before have to do the work to clear the way, so the next generation have less to shed
This is great, opening their minds to what they can become, especially with the way media is portraying young people, you could be the one person visited their school and inspired the next…
So, I’ve seen your temporary tattoos on Instagram, your style is very suited to tattoo art, what’s the process?!
Cain- I’ve never done any body art before now, I use sharpies, so the art stays for some time, and people get an idea of how it feels to have body art. What I do is I spend a few minutes talking to them and gauge their energy, and create something relevant to them, capturing their personality on their skin through imagery, which is what I like about how I work, I can create something that is meaningful. I actually spent some time talking to a girl, and for her tattoo, I drew two eagle heads, I didn’t tell her what I was doing, but when she saw it she was amazed as the two eagle heads appeared on her country’s flag, she had’t told me so it was a happy coincidence!
Would you think of becoming a tattoo artist?
Have you got any tattoos yourself?
Cain- Yes!!! One small one on my back! In Thailand when I was 18, I went out there to learn some authentic Muay Thai with Thai trainers, I stayed at a camp and trained twice a day for 6 days of the week!
I walked into a tattoo shop, out of curiosity, and got my mum’s name tattooed in Thai pattern using a bamboo stick, he then took me to a temple, and I had it activated and blessed which was great experience, I’d do it again.
I notice that you use the female form, and you have a lot of feminine energy in your artwork, why is this?
The past 5 years, I have been channeling my feminine energy, having grown up in a household full of women. You’re given a template of how a boy should be, and the outside influence of how boys are tough etc.…but I had that balance of all the loving, nurturing energy at home,
I feel there needs to be a guy out there (and there are lots out there my age now) that isn’t afraid to channel that energy
Watching my sister during her pregnancy and listening to the changes her body went through was amazing perspective, it makes you respect women more, not to be taken for granted or oppressed
The divine feminine is creative, the masculine is the energy of action, if you can tune into both these frequencies then anything is possible!
Do you plan your paintings, your art work, or do you see what flows out at the time?
Both, I have sketches at home that I download from my mind, then work on them further
There is an element of sitting with a brief and seeing what comes, I might plan, but still see what flows.
What’s your favourite medium?
I don’t have one really, I’m getting back into painting oh and I haven’t drawn on paper for a while. I’ve been doing quite a bit of digital work recently as I’ve taught myself to use a few design programmes over the past year and a half, so I’m practising my new skills.
I like to feel what I’m doing, so prefer doing hand rendered art, you do both, do you feel more connected when creating by hand rather than digitally?
It’s definitely different, translating the raw sensations in your body, the way you’re breathing, the way you blend the colours, your emotions translate directly into what you’re doing, that you don’t get when working digitally, where you can rub it out and blend things smoothly, and step backwards, but with brushstrokes you’re feeling the flow.
I get the purpose of digital, but I think of art as like journaling. In order to release your feelings from your brain you journal by writing it out by hand with a pen/pencil and that’s a process of release, I feel it’s the same with art, letting out your feelings, ideas etc.
Yes, when you think about it on deeper level, you’re literally sending immaterial energy from your mind, translated into electrical currents in your brain through your nervous system, out into a pen, using the ink onto paper making the paper gain weight. Your ideas manifest and literally gain weight whereas digitial you can wipe away errors without trace
Digital is very technical, so you can get caught up in that rather than the flow.
Your custom kicks.…..I’m sure those are done by hand!
I’m just trying new mediums.…I’d love to one day have my own collab with Nike or Adidas…putting it out into the universe, are you listening!?
I call them ‘The Abyss Leaps’, for my first design I drew out some ideas, used Pinterest to build on ideas I already had. The collaboration is with French Urban Streetwear brand, The Daömey Store, and I designed them for a raffle ticket winner!
That’s where it all starts though, something like that…
Let’s talk about that tee you’re wearing! Your Tupac painting, I remember from the Tupac exhibition that Highlight nation put on in Croydon a few years ago.…
They’re coming soon! I thought I’d get my work out there, and I realised that people like custom art on apparel, especially shoes. A lot of brands are on the hype beast wave and don’t feel exclusive anymore, if you can get your hands on some cool looking shit, done just for you, then the aesthetics are just next level!
So rather than your canvases sitting there in a box, you’re getting it out there by putting it on tees, people are walking round showing your art and loving the fact that it’s Tupac, spreading a message to others.…
Yes, making an image reminding people of an energy they can resonate with, someone they connect with. Tupac had powerful message himself, similar to Nipsey, but Nip built on his ideas, with financial guidance giving massive game to us. Since he was martyred, people have become switched on, making his message immortal; when you sit in your power and share your message, it becomes immortal.
How does hip hop influence your art, with Tupac on your chest!
Yes genre wise I love the music, but to me it’s the whole culture that influences my art because it’s what I’ve grown up through.
It’s the message and determination coming from somewhere that doesn’t maybe look likely, or facilitate your dreams, but you can go through the storm and use your creativity and people around you to build something great. That whole spirit of hip hop, that transformative ‘boss he hell up!’ energy is what I’m on, it comes naturally to me. I feel like hip hop is that mentality now.
Hip Hop is biggest culture in the world right now. It’s not just music, it started with a majority of black people in urban areas, but now it can be seen in Japanese kids, or European kids in Croatia, the energy has been given to everyone
It’s the spirit of struggling into perseverance.
Yeah, the struggle and everyone’s individual struggles and survival is what gives us power and belief that we can get through.
Since Nip died, his message has been immortalized and we’ve woken up. We’re taking it back, we want ownership now, we’re moving away from the middle men to creating ways to control how we want to express our creativity.
Like Swizz Beatz who puts on ‘No Commission’ (literally) art exhibitions to support artists just to give them time to shine, supporting them because he’s in a position to do so. It’s your art form, why should other people cream the top off your talent?
Exactly!! We’re taking it back! Swizz Beatz is a legend!
It’s nice to see you people using the tools around them, like social media, as a resource to get shit done to make it happen. It’s about finding your reason why
Yeah if you want to make it happen you try, and if you fall down get back up and persevere
I advocate for looking inside; #DigDeepandDisplay is one of my main brand hashtags, to literally dig deep inside yourself to find your purpose, your reason why you want certain things, who you really are, you come out of that inward journey with more light and display it. It’s a constant thing, you don’t just do it once, it’s an excavation of finding who you are, shedding things you’ve been given, coming back out on top just a bit brighter, accumulating as much light as you can. You’re owning your style and expressing it.
Your name Cain The Abyss, is a play on words, and one might see where it might have come from!!.…where did it come from!?
One of my first handles on instagram was #Cainnabisart back when I first started smoking weed. I used to get a lot of ideas and downloads when high, mad visuals used to come to me. But I couldn’t remember who gave me that name and I wanted it to come from me, so I made up Cain the Abyss, which is similar.
I can’t help but being deep (abyss) when I talk to people, I know it sounds silly, but I often end up talking about the intricacies of life and the universe, and I just think fuck it, this is just who I am it’s me!
You don’t need to apologise, because you can teach people things, the right people will stick around and have that talk, and those that aren’t interested aren’t relevant to your journey.
True, those who like your light will be attracted to you, so you’ll attract the right people in your life-
I think it suits you well, looking at all you’ve done so far.… you’ll be seen as a source of inspiration
Yeh, a deep dark hole of endless ideas and energy!
So, you have your sharpie tattoos, your artwork going on, tees, custom kicks, workshops, YouTube channel, is there anything else you want to talk about?
I’m planning to do some bigger paintings, I’m not even trying now, I’m going Beastmode! I need to express my ideas more fluidly, get it out there, share it. I’d like to do some more workshops with children, host some art classes, if I can tie those in with spirituality and looking within, that would be great. I wish to connect with more creatives and get that creative buzz happening, just getting on your shit, that’s what I’m about and we’ll see where life takes me!
We could talk all day, so let’s wrap it up there before my word count maxes out!! thank you for your time Cain, it’s been a great conversation!
That was great, we out here building the creative scene people!
Follow @cain.the.abyss on instagram and YouTube channel Cain The Abyss to see his talent unfold.
Listen to the interview in full below
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