InLiquid member Gentry Pack fell in love with drawing at seven years old. His love for painting sparked when one day he painted an elephant and he saw it hanging on a wall. This was the first time he felt a rush of confidence. He feels this same rush of confidence after completing all of his paintings today. Pack uses painting as a way to express themes and messages that cross his mind. He feels that he can better express himself through his paintings rather than his words.
Jasmine Noble: Can you tell me about yourself?
Gentry Pack: Well to start, my name is Gentry Pack. A lot of people think G.PACK is some mysterious alias that I came up with, but in reality, it’s really just my government name. Both of my parents were in the military so I was used to seeing A.PACK and R.PACK dog-tags laying around the house. So it just made sense that one day I would be G.PACK. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about myself that isn’t already clear through my artwork. I’m a pretty shy guy.
JN: How did you get started with art?
GP: I started drawing when I was 7 years old. I was at my grandmother’s house, hanging with my older cousins. They were from Philly, so I thought they were 1,000 times cooler than I was and I wanted to do anything to be like them. Since this was back in the days before iPhones and Wifi and everything, we had to find ways to occupy ourselves.
At the time I happened to have a backpack of comic books, and one of my cousins grabbed one of them and just started drawing one of the characters on the front cover. He was the oldest and coolest one, so of course, I had to copy him and do the same thing.
I came back to Maryland the next day and from that day forward, I fell in love with drawing. I would draw almost every day. It could be anything from doodling in class trying to impress my friends, to writing and illustrating my own little books as a kid. Eventually, that childhood passion for drawing led to me developing the same type of passion for painting when I was in college.
JN: What is the most rewarding thing about being an artist?
GP: Being an artist is probably the most humble way to be a showoff. If you’re good at it, people will respect you instantly. They’ll think highly of you literally as soon as they see your work, which is nice because you don’t even really have to say anything, and I usually don’t enjoy talking a lot to random people.
JN: In your artist statement, you say that your art is inspired by uncomfortable experiences. Could you explain what your creative process feels like?
GP: In the beginning, painting was a catalyst for making me feel powerful again after a painful experience. However, over the years I’ve gotten a lot more soulful and spiritual with my painting approach. Each time before I paint, I try to make sure I have a clean and open space. I prefer as much sunlight as possible or a strong light source in general.
Before I even pick up a brush, I usually sit on the floor for about five to ten minutes and just close my eyes. I typically meditate for a few minutes, letting my thoughts slip out of my mind. Then, I say a prayer to myself. I thank God for the opportunity and privacy to create, then ask for divine guidance while I work. I do this every single session.
If I feel really fancy, maybe I’ll light a few candles. Painting can be very technical at times and require a strenuous amount of patience, so it’s good to mentally and emotionally flush everything out first. The last important key is always having some good music to really bump to.
JN: What draws you to painting as a medium?
GP: I discovered my love for painting when I was in college. I went through a weird phase and lost all of my confidence for some reason. I spent most days sleeping for ridiculous amounts, failed most of my classes, and genuinely just didn’t have much of a desire to live. I just felt weak, broke, and completely lost in the cycle.
But one day while I was home for winter break, I noticed a large canvas in my closet from an old high school art project. I had nothing better to do with my time, so immediately I just started painting over it with some leftover supplies and hung it in the middle of my wall. This was back when I would paint extremely fast, typically finishing paintings in one day.
It was a bizarre painting of an elephant. Not only because I felt like one, but because at the time I was too afraid to paint people. Once I stepped back to see the finished product hanging there, I felt the first rush of confidence flow back through me. I’ve basically had that same feeling from painting ever since.
JN: You describe yourself as quiet and sensitive to your surroundings, how do you translate this into your art?
GP: I feel like more often than not when I try to express myself or share something personal with another person, they hear what I’m saying but they don’t really feel what I’m trying to tell them. So instead, I just keep to myself and spend countless hours painting figures that best represent the themes and messages crossing my mind.
Often these messages include excessive amounts of profanity, aggression, sexual urges, addictions, displays of arrogance, conceptions of love, toxic masculine energy, etc. These vulgar topics contrast with my shy demeanor in a way that I feel sums me up in totality.
JN: What do you do when not creating art?
GP: Nowadays, I’m almost always creating art. I try to give as much of my time to painting as possible because I feel like it’s one of the only activities that will pay me back in the future. Also because it makes me feel like I’m a real person. But when I’m completely exhausted and just need a break from it all, I try to spend it with the people I love and homies I look up to.
They’re the ones that remind me literally how beautiful it can be just to be alive, which in return leads to the inspiration of topics and themes for future paintings so it’s a nice way to complete the cycle. I’m genuinely really thankful for all of the people that I have close to me right now.
JN: What are you looking forward to in the future?
GP: I honestly just can’t wait to be free from the workplace. I’m dying for the day that my paintings bring me to meet my financial dreams. I’m not looking to be anyone’s employee of the month, or celebrate 15 years with some company. I want to be my own company. I don’t need a supervisor, or a manager, or anything like that.
I just want to be fully free to explore my creativity for the rest of my life and fully lose myself in my artwork and let it consume me. I can genuinely feel that being an artist is the reason I was put on this Earth.