Could you introduce yourself?
Hi everyone I’m Marc, a digital audio and graphic artist from Richmond, Virginia. I graduated from James Madison with a degree in Technical Scientific Communication.
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
My story has a strong impact on my artwork standing apart.
How would you describe your art style? Do you feel like it reflects you?
My art is very bright and colorful. My artwork represents my situation very well.
Where did the name come from?
Tokyo, Japan technology and design.
What's the story?
I am from Richmond, Virginia.
My story begins on December 18, 2009. It was the last day of fall finals at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. All of my classmates and I were in the WRTC lab working to finish a coding final that was due that day. Although we were hard at work, I had one of the best times I ever had in college in that room, surrounded by friends I made over the past 3 years. I arrived home that evening, so grateful to be on winter break, sleep in my own bed and be home with my mother. I didn’t know tomorrow, December 19, 2009, would be the day that changed my life forever.
I woke up to a massive sinus infection that no amount of medication would cure. After the cold drifted away in the beginning of January, the sickness came back a couple weeks into spring semester around February, but this time I had lost the vision in my left eye. The week after, I experienced both balance and memory loss.
JMU health center doctors were not exactly sure what was wrong with me and thought I had an ear infection or some form of vertigo. Over the counter, vertigo medications such as Dramamine made the early stages of MS worse. I felt like I didn’t have my final semester of college with no recreation, parties or anything outside of my dorm. Most of my professors didn’t understand why I emailed that I was sick every other day. The only professor that really understood was my WRTC counselor and professor Lucy Bednar. She made my life so much easier trying to earn my degree There were so many issues I had during the last 3 months of school. After class started at 10 am, I would always come back to my dorm room, eat lunch at 12 pm and then sleep from 2 to 9 pm. My roommate Arthur and I would go to the cafeteria at 10 pm during the last call for food and then do my homework till 4 am every day. I lost a lot of personality traits. It was hard to walk, speak and just feel normal. It felt like one day I woke up and I was a completely different person. I had to remember how to walk and talk again and hold conversations with people. I knew I had my work cut out but just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I just made the best of every day and did my best to relearn things while trying to earn my final course credits so I could graduate on time. I cherished my last days at JMU and made the best of what I had there.
I made it to graduation on May 8, 2010, and walked across the stage to receive my diploma. I was so happy that I graduated from a major university. When I came home to Richmond for the summer, I had weird chest pains and went to the local ER. Everything tested fine yet I still had no idea what was wrong with me. The ER referred me to the ear, nose and throat doctor and then the ENT referred me to the neurologist who referred me to get an MRI in September 2010.
That summer, the rise of Drake had a serious impact on my life. I’ve been a follower of his since 2007 when I heard Replacement Girl featuring Trey Songz from neighboring Petersburg, Virginia. In 2009, Drake came to fame with the SO Far Gone mixtape and in 2010, with a promo for his 1st album Thank Me Later, MTV did a documentary Better Than Good Enough.
Drake said he would quit music if Noah “40” Shebib died because of his MS. I used Google to understand what MS stood for and found the term Multiple Sclerosis. I realized I had every beginning symptom of MS; blurry vision in one eye, vertigo, tiredness and so on. In October 2010, when my first neurologist, Dr. White, called me in for the diagnosis, I finally found out what was wrong with me.
From 2010 to 2017 I have been on the medication Rebif, which is a self-injection I perform 3 times a week. The pain threshold gets better as the month's pass. I’ve been denied partial social security 3 or 4 times in the past 3 years, so I live to create my own future through music and art. I’ve been making music since 2005 and blogging since 2008. From 2010 to 2012 I produced and designed my artwork for my instrumental mixtapes and created a website called CHAMPION SINCE. I always try to use my MS situation and turn that pain into a positive digital form. YMLXL means Young Marc Levitation And Lean because my relapses always felt as if I was on a cloud and had no control. Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis for me means I can lose the use of any limb for a period of a few seconds or permanently. Being positive and creative was my way of fighting through all the negativity.
I want to be a positive influence across the world. I am from the city of Richmond, went to college, learned to live life through MS while at the same time fighting to graduate JMU, despite not even knowing what was wrong with me in the first place. I put my pain and everything I have into my music and designs and create what was once a negative a positive.
I want to inspire people to understand that they too can make it through their tough situations as long as they remain positive and stay true to what they believe in. I hope my story can help those that need help themselves. Sometimes the inspiration you need is right in front of your face. Don’t give up. Your eyes will notice the signs when the timing is right.
Could you tell us how you feel about color, what connected to you the most when it comes to the use of bright and bold colors?
Rainy days and harsh times don't last forever. The inverse of darkness is my reason of use bright colors. Designing with bright colors is therapeutic.
We've seen in some of your older work you focused on landscapes, what changed in your artistic direction from then to now?
I get inspire by any design aspect any time. Over the years I learn to embrace my imagination, and love different other point of views.
Who is one artist you would love to meet up for drinks and just talk about life?
I would like to meet Takashi Murakami one of many creatives who inspires me.
We see a lot of your work seems to mingle with the underground music community! How does music influence your work currently?
I am also a beat maker. I made 27 instrumental albums since 2010 leads to alot covers. My design partner ATOWN DESIGNS bounce ideas off one another which pushes us. Our music and art intertwine creatively.
What are a few tips for other artists that might be reading this?
Find your inspiration and your style any and everywhere. Continue to learn and look for situations to elevate you. Inspiration is everywhere be patient!
If you had to choose any music album that captures the emotion of your work, what would it be and why?
There are a couple that comes to mind in Kid Cudi “A Kid Named Cudi” and Drake “So Far Gone.” Embracing darkness and turn those time’s is brightness and inspiration. The year of 2008 of music and design greatly inspired my creativity.
What are some of your goals for 2018?
Goals are CHAMPION SINCE to become a haven of inspiration around the world about embracing helping Multiple Sclerosis or any hardships.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Future I will win a Grammy for my music with ATOWN DESIGNS. Turn my artwork in technology and fashion.
What makes you happy?
Creating and Positive Energy!