One of the hardest things to do in life is push through and follow your passions even when the cards are stack too high. But for a native Maryland Illustrator, that has become a challenge he’s grown to master defeating time and time again. If you have a strong passion and love for music you’ve surely encountered his artwork whether through a dope album cover, mixtape cover, or even just a sick social media post. Meet Bernard Rollins, an intergalactically positive artist with his sights on creating the next best thing. His work ethic is second to none and he’s always up for pushing himself to create thought-provoking artwork rooted around two of his passions: art and music.
Quick to find the humor in many situations Rollins can often be reflective and laugh at things that he’s experienced in life. In a way, it sort of makes him an even better artist and can be seen in many of his social media and/or blog post. Here’s a snippet of him sharing his experience about not getting a pair of Nike Air Raids to go back to school in.
“The Nike Air Raid came out when I was in middle school and I remember a lot of kids saying that they were going to get a pair to go back to school. They were hot at the time and it was one of the “must have shoes” to stunt on the first day. My Mom wasn’t spending the cash for them on my “under $50″ school shoe budget, so she copped me some look-alike fake joints from Payless. (XJ900’s) Needless to say, I got roasted on that first day, and every time I see this shoe this is the embarrassing memory it brings back. Thank you, Nike.” — Bernard Rollins
As of recently, Rollins has experienced some cooler experiences like finding out that the frontman Quavo of the popular rap group Migos decided to ice out one of Rollins art pieces that he dedicated to their hit song, “Bad and Boujee“, from Migos’ Culture album. Completely flabbergasted he reacts to the situation as not to understand what just happened but to me it’s obvious. When your passion overrides your intentions to just create what’s natural mystical things will happen that you’ve never could’ve imagined. That’s what happened to Rollins and it’ll continue to happen for as long as he continues to produce artwork that will be timelessly appreciated for decades to come.
Check out our brief interview with Bernard Rollins (@Bnardartwork) about his art:
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and what’s your professional background?
My government name is Bernard and I’m from Frederick, Md. I’ve been drawing/illustrating all my life, but most seriously in the last 4 years. I’ve taken a few community college courses, but I’m mostly self-taught. I work a full-time job and I’m a part-time illustrator. I also be on that PS4 get at me!
What inspires you to create the artwork that you make?
I’m heavily influenced by music and pop culture. Anything hip-hop I’m all over it. Comedy has some influence. I like to think I’m funny and try to incorporate humor in some works. Comics, cartoons, manga, children’s books, I draw inspiration from all around.
When did you initially start exploring the idea of illustrating rappers utilizing The Simpson’s (Matt Groening) style?
2012 or 2013 maybe. I bought a new drawing tablet and did the Simpsons/rapper thing as an exercise while I practiced using the tablet. I posted them on my Instagram and it kind of took off from there. Initially, the idea was just a “What if” situation.
Which illustration took off first? How did that feel?
The Action Bronson one of course. I posted it and went to sleep. When I woke up I had about 1500 notifications on my Instagram page because Bronson had reposted it and tagged me (The tag was key). It was pretty unreal. All of this was new at the time and you don’t know how to react to all this happening overnight. One day you’re posting random sketches getting likes from your friends and family, and the next your 6000 followers deep and people are begging for more.
How do you see your artwork impacting the music culture?
Since most of my drawings are inspired by music, I’d say my art bridges the gap between sounds and visuals. When you listen to a song your mind takes the words and mood and interprets what the scenario is visually. Everyone does this and has their version of what they hear and how their mind creates from the information given. It’s amazing. I just put it on paper and show my point of view.
What’s the greatest lesson you learned as an illustrator? What would you tell a younger illustrator that’s inspired by your work?
The greatest lesson I learned is super cliche but know your worth. Don’t undersell yourself. Educate yourself on what other illustrators are doing and how they’re getting paid. Reach out to social media and network with other artists. You can obtain a wealth of information you can’t find by Googling.
What’s your favorite film and why?
Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood. That movie was funny all the way through. I used to watch it back to back on VHS when it came out.
How would you define your greatest accomplishment yet as an illustrator?
My greatest accomplishment as an illustrator is being recognized and appreciated for my work. When I met Smoke DZA and Westside Gunn in Baltimore it was all love and I was floored at how many people there knew who I was and loved my artwork. I’m like, hey DJ Green Lantern I’ve been listening to your tapes forever! Green starts explaining to ME how dope my art is. It is an unbelievable feeling.
If you could pick anybody to work with, who would be your dream collaborator? What would you want to create with them? Why?
MF DOOM. I get lost in his beats and rhymes, the flows, stories, and how he puts words together. I would want to illustrate every song like a children’s book. I think it would be a great project. I’d also like to meet him in person.
Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Trap Toys? Which toy did you enjoy making the most?
The Trap Toys guys reached out with the idea to make a bootleg toy from the illustration of Bronson as a Simpson. Coincidently they had they were looking for an artist who was doing “Simpsonizing” rappers and I was doing that at the time. They took that drawing and made a bootleg toy from a Comic Book Guy action figure. It turned out well and got a good reception. We did another with DJ Atrak, that Atrak requested himself. That was awesome as well. They’ve gone on to do other collaborations with artists and made more toys. Its good to see them doing well. We both kind of started around the same time.
What makes you a Stereo Champion?
Being true to myself! I’ve opened up a lot of new avenues for myself and it’s easy to be led astray into something that may not be beneficial to you or promotes your best interests. I think I’ve done a decent job of staying focused on what my goals are, meeting them, and creating distinctive artwork in the process.