Chad Hammond leaves corporate in pursuit of the ‘art’

Sade Gardner

November 29, 2021

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Chad Hammond’s set-up helps him immerse himself in his creative zone. CONTRIBUTED

It’s a scary thing to leave the safety of the familiar in pursuit of the heart or, in this case, the art.

For many years, Chad Hammond waltzed with the dream of leaving his job as a graphic designer to be a full-time digital artist. He told himself he’d wait until he had the capital and savings, but he was cripplingly afraid.

“It was fear that kept me from trying; fear of failing, fear of not being able to support myself and make a living,” Hammond told Flair. “I was not mature and developed enough in myself to take a step back then. I probably would have failed back then if I tried.”

He’s definitely not failing now. Hammond, 35, took the plunge and left the corporate world in August, and he hasn’t “had a moment where I’ve said, ‘This may have been a bad decision’. I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve been very busy and very stressed, but I’ve enjoyed it the whole time.”

He added that he was also able to make the move because of the support of his family and wife.

“She is a big reason why I finally was able to make the jump, not just in moral support, but being able to know that I can rely on her in case something happened has kinda released the ‘what-if’ and stress for me, and made me focus more on the work.”

Hammond’s relationship with art goes back to his childhood when he would trace outlines of comic characters. The Campionite would customise his schoolbag and sneakers, and other students took notice and sought his services, opening his eyes to the income opportunities in art. However, he ultimately lost interest in drawing because of the creative restrictions in the academic setting. This changed when he discovered Photoshop in 2008, the primary tool he uses today to create immersive digital art. From portraits of pop culture figures like Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye to representations of Afro-consciousness, fantasy, self-care and anime, Hammond’s pieces are inspired by his interests, images he comes across, and fan requests.

He also does commissions and murals, the latter of which is a different ball game from the smaller canvas of Photoshop.

“Before I start a mural, it’s daunting,” he revealed. “The largest one I’ve done is up to 400 square feet, so you go in there thinking about it, and you’re nervous. But once I start drawing the lines on the wall, it’s just how quickly can I get this done now. It’s definitely more demanding, time-wise, and you never really understand how physically demanding it is until you’re 10 hours in and you’ve been standing all day… . Outside of that, it’s fun, ’cause once I get to the site, I just put my headphones on and fall into it.”

Followers may watch his process via his Twitch page and YouTube channel, where he’s engendered a supportive community, including long-time friends and followers from Indonesia and Australia. He’s also extended his marketing to apparel with art prints and even the NFT market.

“To date, I’ve sold five – nothing astronomical, but I do see a big future in the NFT space, especially as a Jamaican artist,” he said. “I don’t really see many Jamaican artists in the space, but there’s a real potential out there to make a name for yourself and make a good chunk of change, and it’s another way for you to express yourself.”

Reflecting on his digital art odyssey, he cited a commissioned portrait of singer Jah Vinci for the second instalment of Hennessy Artistry in 2019 as his primary highlight.

“Jah Vinci really, really liked his piece. He posted and reposted it on his page, and you could tell that he really loved that piece, and he’s actually gotten me more work from that… . The fact that an artiste in his position was really affected by it on a deeper level made me say, ‘Wow, something I did really impacted him.’ That has been one of the biggest moments for me as an artist and a reminder that yes, this is something I’m meant to do.”

Hammond’s artwork may be seen and purchased through his website www.cdotcreates.com.

TOP: Chad Hammond showcases portraits done of Capleton and Jah Vinci for the Hennessy Artistry series in 2019.

sade.gardner@gleanerjm.com

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Sade Gardner

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