My Name is Fir$t Born I am 18 years old I am a creator, and I was born March 22 1997 in Detroit Michigan. I was raised on the Westside of Detroit I have been here my whole life. Growing up I was the typical kid in Detroit running around on whatever block I played on (Washburn) with my cousins and friends. My childhood was very interesting looking back on it half of it was being a kid on Washburn going to the convenience store up the block drinking those little Hug juices. During that time my creative side wasn’t exactly out even though I did draw on my bedroom wall when I was like five which is my earliest drawing memory. By the time I moved to the Joy Rd neighborhood staying on blocks like Prest, Hubbell etc. my creativeness was coming out. I wasn’t riding bikes around the hood with my friends anymore. In 4th grade these kids were sitting at a table drawing and telling jokes about each other and they said “Damon come sit with us bro we drawing and cracking on each other” so I joined them and ever since that day I have been drawing ritually and will roast the shit out of you. By age 11 I was a damn hermit barely going outside I would just be on the computer looking up pictures of The Boondocks. A show that really inspired me with my personal work at a young age which was filled with knowledge that went over my head back then but I can fully grasp now. That time period will always have a place in my heart. It was a very essential and legendary time as an artist to this day I think back to my 12 year old days.
Over the years just about every artist I have come across digitally or in real life has inspired me. I have always been inspired by other artist work ethic. From creatives like Tyler The Creator (tbh he has a place in every unique black kid heart), Flying Lotus, The Underachievers, Aaron Mcgruder, Washed Out, Vince Staples, Zik Ozo, Toro y Moi, BrandVisions, Basquiat, Metro Zu, Lesean Thomas, Lano Brown, Ackeem Salmon, Austen Brantley, Bones, NRK Pyramids, Lupe Fiasco. I see my art taking me very far, people always tell me I’m ‘‘going to be famous’’ and I never deny it.
My first solo art show was titled Evolve. Many of the pieces I made had a similar theme based around progression of the mind and using that unique mind to make something no one else can. It was a pretty interesting time I was in the 11th grade my work ethic back then was another inspiring point in my journey as an artist. I would walk around school with big ass pieces of wood I was drawing on that I found in my grandmothers attic. The whole art show thing was a field to me even though I knew what it was because I would always play this song by Luckaleannn called Art Show which I added in the mix for the show. I had it at Undgrd Studios which I was a intern at for a while and my nigga Trumaine said I could have the space that day to do my thing with because he knew I wasn’t taking the average route as an artist. I wanted to pursue being a freelance artist. I was really proud of myself because it was the start of something big it was just a crawl and I’m still crawling. Everybody who came was impressed and shit I was too.
I chose the name First Born because I am a natural born leader. I am the oldest child on both my mom and dad’s side (I may have a 19 year old sister or brother on my dad’s side. I remember my mom telling me my dad was fucking an older lady when she was pregnant with me). I am the first born in my family the way I am, like I have no relatives who I can relate to and think like me expect for my mother. The name means something to my mother. She got pregnant with me on purpose when she was 15, our birthdays are three days apart her’s March 19th and mine is March 22nd. A good name is worth more than gold and we all are looking for our identity… well people like me. With the little knowledge I’ve known I know better to be walking around with the name Damon Thomas. It was time for a change because this is a time in my life where my art is going to progress and get more attention. I feel my art is too powerful to be made by someone named Damon Thomas the name doesn’t really roll off the tongue smoothly. The name doesn’t really fit me, anybody who knows what I dress like would know I have a very unique appearance and seeing my art side by side goes together but when the name Damon Thomas is next to it it’s “oh I was expecting something different”. It was just something I could use because I didn’t want my real last name out there. I remember my mom saying “you gone curse yo self with that damn name you don’t want to be no Thomas”.
I sell my art because I have a style and message you can’t get anywhere else. I’m entering manhood and I need wealth and relationships. Visual art is in everything around us so why not sell it? My basement is running out of room to put my art, anybody who went to school with me in 11th grade knows I don’t work on little ass 9x12s I got pieces that are 9×12 to paintings on 6 foot doors . Should art have a price to it? I mean shit yeah sometimes I want to say no because of style stealing motherfuckers who do art just for the money because they can’t tap into their calling. That feeling you get when you sell a piece is like FUCK YEAH BITCH! Which is deep because its dopamine being released when that person hands you the money. The art can be enjoyed by someone else you may hate it but Tameka from the Ann Arbor Art Fairwill love it and get her own message and feeling.
The Detroit art scene is very interesting it’s definitely had a boost in the couple years with the help of the Grand River Creative Corridor and other beautification projects. I wouldn’t even say it’s new, I mean this is Detroit this is where Motown was born. The scene is supportive in terms of coming to a show of yours or whatever but a lot of these young people don’t BUY THE ART. I have a lot of pros and cons with the Detroit art scene. You see a lot of the same shit as Trumaine White of Undgrd Studios said “they come in look at the art ahhh nice go outside smoke a pack of cigarettes” he was basically saying half these shows aren’t shit it’s never really an experience going to some shows blah blah blah. While you’re outside you’ll see some homeless people because 10 times out of 10 the show will be in Midtown, Corktown or an area similar. Hearing that from Trumaine made me realize the scene I don’t really want to get caught up into. I definitely would say my art represents my environment and the people I encounter in Detroit and I think it’s obvious my characters I draw you’d see someone similar looking going into a liquor store here it’s just how my subconscious processes the information around me.
Detroit makes me wonder: a lot of pretty ass murals but down the street from the murals I see a park of homeless people who have been here all their life while you got artists from all over the world saying they fuck with Detroit. That’s why they are doing a mural here but damn man fuck a mural what about the street full of homeless people? I know colors have an effect on people’s moods and all but that’s not gonna help them they probably can’t even see what’s being painted. Detroit is changing right in front of our eyes I came across an article saying it’s the new Brooklyn. I’ve been told Downtown is being rebuilt for these new white people all the ones you see walking downtown can’t even give a homeless man or woman a few dollars and they’ve only been living in Detroit for a couple months. A homeless man I came across while passing out business cards for my design company (noirxviiii.com) went on a short rant about the new Detroit he said they just pushing the blacks out and moving these white people in and they have a guilt which is why they can’t even look the homeless people in the eye or even give them a few dollars. THE POVERTY OF DETROIT IS BEING IGNORED 39% OF THE RESIDENTS ARE IN POVERTY. This new Detroit isn’t all positive like these journalists are making it seem. They are working hard as fuck on that new rail and shit for the Red Wings but it’s a fucking rail and I never seen any black people who are hardcore hockey fans in Detroit that shit don’t matter man. Detroit has a growing biking community so am I the only person with a bike in Detroit who has rode from Midtown to the “hood”? The street texture transition is fucking sad it goes from smooth to glass and cracked cement with dead dogs on the side of the road. Detroit has special people but that special is just another example of the Capitalist country this shit is all about money and power it’s in the hands of the people to make what they feel is right because Dan Gilbert And Mike Ilitch don’t care about us. Only downtown is progressing the eastside and Westside hoods need the same shit as midtown and downtown.