We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney “Pankasso” Pankey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney “Pankasso”, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Choosing passion over security is always a risk and choosing a creative career is doing exactly that. My whole life I’ve been a big risk taker! When I was younger I’d change my look so much I was my mother’s biggest headache and in my career that same energy is matched. Things are a lot more interesting and fulfilling when you’re willing to go all in on yourself. Once when I was in an interview for an entry level position at a hospital i was asked what I majored in when i went to college, I told her “art” and her response was a laugh and “you’ll never make money doing that!” That exact moment was the fire i needed to double down on my craft and start taking myself seriously. Right before covid hit I took the biggest risk and put all of my savings into creating affordable items for my site. I created stickers, sculptures, prints, wearable art, and smaller gift items and launched my first site. There was a warm reception for my new business and 2020 was an amazing year for my career. Not a month later corona had everything slow down but I’ll never stop being risky and adventurous in my art career. I’ll try anything until I find my perfect niche! High risk means higher rewards.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
If I could describe my art it would be surreal pop art. My obsession is color! I stretch my creative limits trying different styles but I’m most excited by bright bold designs. Lately I’m creating 3D art and sculpture and its invigorating using a new medium. What sets me apart is that I’m not afraid to try new things. I don’t have a concrete subject matter and my art is always evolving. As a black artist I feel like I’m expected to create certain imagery and I don’t want to put myself in the naked afro lady shaped box. I’m inspired by the weird, bold visuals, and landscapes. I’ve spent most of my life fighting to get where I am now and the fight continues. There has been nothing easy about my journey here and there are still hurdles but I’m ready! Since high school I’ve canvassed and sold myself any way I could. I would walk downtown to art studios and try to get my art seen. Finally I had a few showings in high school thanks to my teachers and a few years later displayed art at a local hostel. I’ve been in Atlanta a while now and as soon as I got here I did my first mural at a show curated by Miya Bailey. Everyday I’m still overcoming various challenges but I wouldn’t give up my talent for anything. Things only get better with time and hard work. I’ve learned perseverance and patience, I’ve also learned that I belong. Regardless of my background and how “small” I am right now in the art world I deserve acknowledgement and I am going to keep working until I get my flowers. I want the world to know my brand is growing! There’s so much I want to do artistically and even ten years in it’s the beginning for me! I’m working on more hand painted apparel and sculptures, and hopefully I’ll be tattooing soon! I’m optimistic about the future of my art and can’t wait to brighten up the world with my viewpoint. Weird is good and I plan to keep it that way! I do it for the alt black girls who are unapologetically them. We matter!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots range from the small family businesses to the fancy eateries. When my friends come into town we have to stop by an amazing ramen spot, my go to in the moment is Okiboru and grab a fruit or bubble tea from Yi Fang! Feeling sushi? Kang Nam is the BEST in town. My favorite coffee shop is the Carrol street café so breakfast there is a must! Last but not least the most amazing Korean bbq in atlanta is at Thrill! You can’t go wrong.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my high school art teachers who showed me my first look at working artists. Eric Keller, Judith Jasinski, and Mrs. Copeland helped mold me from the beginning and i am so appreciative! I’m also shouting out the young artists and close friends who work just as hard as I do and keep me pushing to try new things and stay productive! I love you KB, Ian, Elea, Blake, Amber, Autumn, Kaela, Vic, Jay and Dimitri! The support of my friends mean everything. Also to my family. My mom, aunts, uncle, granny and sisters are my cheerleaders! I have some solid people in my corner