Local Artist Feature: Wilbert “Will” Simpson, Jr.

About the Artist

At the age of 11 I developed my love for art from watching my older brother Darin L. Gilbert draw. I begged him to teach me how to draw, so he gave me a pencil and paper, and then told me to draw what I see.

Since then, I’ve been drawing what I see, what’s in my head, and what’s in front of me. I strayed away from drawing while I was in school, until I reached high school and took an art 2D class to fill my electives. When time came to pick a college, I was looking into music schools, and then I prayed about it and asked God to give me some sort of direction and help me decide if I should pursue music, sports, or art.

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I was accepted at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, so I took a chance with my art. I went for graphic design, but enjoyed the hand drawing classes and fine arts more than I enjoyed the graphic design classes.

I never got the chance to take a class in painting, but I was in love with the idea of one day making it a part of my life. I bought some paint brushes and begin to paint. I admit it was very challenging at first, because I was used to seeing results within the first few minutes. Through painting I learned how to be patient.

Now I’m working on many other art exhibitions and I’m so grateful and blessed to be able to still be growing in the arts. My work has been exhibited at the Midtown Art Business center and at the 5:01 networking event at the 6th St Plaza in Fort Lauderdale. I also have an exhibit at Studio 5 Ten in Lauderhill. I’ve been blessed to donate paintings to the Muscular Dystrophy Association for a fundraising event and speak to students at summer camp in Fort Lauderdale about painting and pursuing my Passion in the arts.

Will Simpson



After reading Will’s bio, we decided to ask a few more questions to get a deeper insight into his work…

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You mentioned a conflict about whether to get schooling for art, music or sports. What instruments did you play/what sports were you interested in? Do you ever incorporate those interests into your artwork/use them as inspiration for your paintings?

I played pretty much every percussion in school. From concert, Jazz, Rock marching band, and church. Faced with the opportunity to get a scholarship to FamU for marching band I thought it was time to drift from my first love (music) and try my hand in art. I was considered one of the top three wrestler’s in the county in my weight class my junior year. By senior year I was ranked and marked state bound before an injury sidelined me. The injury just freed up more time for music and art. When it comes to my art I incorporate music by its wide range of emotions and flow. I simply LOVE the visual affect the brush stroke gives in my art. That stroke determines where and how your eyes travel throughout a piece creating Flow.

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You say that you like to paint what you see, and I notice you paint a lot of beautiful portraits. Do you typically have a live model or a photo that you’re painting from, or do you notice a face in the crowd and make a mental note for later? What are some qualities that stand out for you and make you say “I want to paint THAT”?

“I like to paint what I see” goes for the visual, emotional, and mental aspect of my art. 50% of my pieces are references, 25% is made up of the emotional response wanted. 15% is based on the message given. 10% is technique and mistakes. I always leave room for mistakes (this order of percentage doesn’t apply to every piece). What makes me say “I want to paint THAT”? – Anything out the normal or something that sparks an ideal/emotional response. To narrow it down it has to first pique my interest, give an emotional response and have the freedom needed to be creative.

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What does your process look like on a day to day basis? Do you have a routine you follow or rituals that get the creative juices flowing (certain music you listen to when painting, etc.)? Anything you want to share about your process would be great!

My process consists of first Music. It gives of the vibe needed to be creative. I listen to soulful music like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, De Angelo and a lil rap. Not just any rap tho [sic] it has to be that mindful rap like JCole, Kendrick Lamar, Wale etc. Then I lay my paint out, set up my space, keeping everything needed in arms reach. I prefer to sketch the image out first because my proportion isn’t great. I’m a fan of knowing your weakness and creating an avenue where it can never be known unless told. In sketching out my piece I size it large because naturally I make things smaller. When applying the paint I go from light to dark back to light. Taking care of the midtones, shadows then the highlights. Since I spend more time on the eyes, lips and hair, I save those details for last. That allows me to solely focus on any and every detail needed to bring my image to life.

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If you’re interested in learning more about Will, please visit MyArtnSoul.com or TheArtHub.org. You can also check out his upcoming exhibits at:

Ali Cultural Arts Center, Pompano Beach, June 17 from 5pm to 10pm
The Spady Museum, Delray, June 18
The Grove Park Elementary School Mural Project, Royal Palm Beach, Starting June 2