Hey! Thank you so much for visiting my bio page! This might be a little long so I apologize in advance… but here goes…
My name is Justin Copeland. I was born on April 18th, 1995 in Baltimore, Maryland. Growing up, art was my world! I first took drawing "seriously" in the 1st grade when I saw a kid drawing cartoon characters in an after school program I used to attend. I was amazed and I would look over his shoulder every chance I got! It's like a switch just went off in me and I was drawing all the time. At the time there were VHS videos and later, DVDs and I would pause the movies I was watching so that I could draw the scenes and characters. I was in my own world all the time and cartoons just had a way of inspiring me to keep improving every day and I developed dreams of creating my own cartoons one day.
In school, teachers would tell my mom how I rarely seemed attentive in class and how I was always looking out the windows. In truth, school didn't interest me much and academics just wasn’t my strength. I just wanted to draw all the time so art was my favorite subject.
I remember in Elementary school, my art teacher at the time told my mom that I was really gifted in art at such an early age. It's still hard to explain how good that made me feel. I was finally good at something. The other boys in my class were good at sports and they had all the fancy shoes and clothes but I had art and I was finally recognized for it. For the first time, I felt so cool!
School was a struggle for me and honestly, I barely made it through high school… I needed a little more help then the other kids and my learning style was much different than teachers assumed… it was hard for me to stay focused at the time. I took a huge break from drawing around 7th grade and didn't get back into it until around the 10th or 11th grade… Middle school was tough on me and I guess I wasn't really feeling inspired at the time with everything going on like… (bullying, bad grades, insecurities, girls) the list goes on and I still don’t talk about a lot of the things that happened around that time…
In high school, I started drawing again but not as much as I used to. The adults would tell me that drawing would never make me any money in life and that I needed to choose a "good" job. Something to do for a living. I was also inspired by music at the time and learned to play guitar in the 10th grade so I didn't really have much time on my hands to draw.
When High School hit, I started feeling the pressure of needing to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. To this day I still can’t understand why young people are expected to know that with just 18 years of experience on this planet. I was told that art would never make me any money and that the only artists who make money are the dead ones… I was told that I needed a job with a little more security, jobs that were in the STEM field. I was just told that art wasn’t enough… so I started feeling like I wasn’t enough… since art was the only thing I’ve ever been good at... (All this sounds a little gloomy but I promise it gets better lol)
Later on, in high school, I met a group of friends who were interested in the same things as me. This was the first time in my life where I didn’t have to hide the fact that I played video games, watched anime, and liked to draw anime characters. We even liked the same kind of music at the time, rock, metal, screamo… stuff like that… that kind of music really inspired me back then. I had a lot going on in my head and that kind of music helped me figure out a little of what was happening to me. It was raw and expressive and something I really needed at the time to get me through the days.
It was also a little hard being black and listening to that kind of music at the time. People would tease me and call me an oreo, emo, and other names like that. Some would say I’m not “all the way black”. Some would even question my sexuality because I wore skinny jeans and tight-fitting clothes... Music was my art of choice at that time… I still believe music is the most powerful art form. With music, I could express exactly what I was feeling in that phase of my life even more so than drawing… I learned to play guitar and for the last 2 years of high school, I was mostly making songs.
Now that I look back, I understand why the kids like me usually flocked to rock music and anime and we get called weird and all types of names… those kids are usually artistically inclined and so we’re really sensitive and emotionally intelligent. It’s hard to find your way when the majority of the people in the world are the exact opposite of you. Those people often have more forceful personalities and are able to voice themselves and to be heard… but from day one your dreams were under attack. You were told you needed to grow up and that artists don’t offer anything to the world. You’re basically told that you aren’t enough…
If you’re one of those kids reading this, I hope this makes you feel seen and understood. There are so many people who have been in your place and they are changing the world with their art. You are enough… you’ve always been enough... If you’re an adult who has dreams that were shot down, I want you to know that it’s never too late to revisit those dreams.
Well, fast forward lol, I graduated high school in 2013, and I started my art business in January of 2016. I had zero knowledge of starting a business and there were so many people who doubted me. I doubted myself often and there were many times where I wanted to quit but I stuck with it. I still haven’t taken the college route (college is super cool though if that’s what you want to do), I’ve spent 10s of thousands of dollars trying to figure out this art dream and none of that money is wasted because I’m living my truth and I’m changing lives in my own way. I’ve never had anything figured out before I will because I just keep going and that’s all you have to do…
I get to draw beautiful black people every day. Because we’re beautiful and WE inspire me lol. My art is just about me expressing what I like and what I believe in. I believe in loving yourself and finding peace within yourself. I believe in appreciating the people who really matter to us. I believe in growth... and yeah my art is just me. All of my thoughts. My voice. My likes. My dislikes. Me. So thank you for liking ME enough to read this far. I really appreciate you and I hope that you can live your dream too if you aren’t already.
I have dreams of creating my cartoons in the future and making music and some other things I haven’t discovered yet and I can’t wait for you to see! <3