We had the good fortune of connecting with Banks Compton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Banks, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life is the most rewarding when you take risks. Growing up on my family farm in rural Demopolis, Alabama I always dreamt of life elsewhere. There wasn’t much opportunity for me in my small town, and I never felt like I was meant to stay. I wanted more than anything to be a painter, travel the world, and find where it is I belong. As a teenager, these ambitions where not exactly typical among my peers, but I was supported by my family and friends to take a chance on the world. So, I did.
Not long after I got my driver’s license, I drove by myself to New Orleans, LA to find a summer job working on Mardi Gras floats. I wanted to make sure art was the career choice for me. I fell in love with the creative work. I knew then that I had to learn as much as possible about art and painting, so I took a big risk, and I applied for early admission to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), an art school far away from my home. I was accepted early, dropped out of high school, and moved to the northeast without looking back. It was a risk. I left home without knowing what to expect but eager to experience something new.
While in college, I took even more risks. For several months, I lived in New York during an internship with luxury event planner David Monn. I met some of the most inspiring and influential people in my life there. Later, I was accepted to RISD’s European Honors Program to study in Italy. I packed up and moved to Rome where I was able to learn a little Italian and absorbed the art and culture all around me.
My stay in Italy was cut short by the pandemic, and in an instant, I found myself back on my family farm in rural Alabama in quarantine and finishing school online. During that time, I reflected on my experiences, and realized that what started each amazing journey was a risk I chose to take. I had the confidence to take these risks and start over in new locations repeatedly because of my foundation – my family, friends, and the support of my hometown. I knew I could always rely on the love of those around me to help me follow my passion for art. The world had changed, but my determination to find where I belong had not.
Upon graduation, I closed my laptop and headed west. I traveled, camping with friends across nine states until I found myself in Phoenix, AZ. I moved here looking to start again taking a chance that maybe now I would find where it is I belong. After living in Arizona for half a year now, I have made lifelong friends, hiked beautiful landscapes, and tried new hobbies like rock climbing. I currently have artwork hanging in Foud:re Contemporary in downtown Phoenix, and I’ve never been happier. I am confident now I have found where I belong, and it’s all because of the risks I’ve taken to try new things and experience new places. Now I only wonder where the next risk will take me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I paint and draw stories from life. I like to think of my art as visual poetry. Like poetry, my art isn’t always literal, but there is a cadence to my work that reflects the highs and lows of life. I draw inspiration from traditions and stories passed down through time. I set myself apart from others because of my approach to painting. I see each painting as an opportunity to unearth a story understood by everyone through a perspective that is unique to me. I do not aim to criticize but rather celebrate, the glory and mystery of life’s adventure.
I sell paintings, prints, custom event decor, and I am developing skills to become a muralist too! I am still working hard to support myself fully through my art, but I’ve come so far from where I started. It’s not easy following your dream, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I will never stop expressing myself and sharing stories. Through my journey I have learned to be adaptable and to learn as many skills as possible. You never know what life will throw at you. I’m always ready for any obstacle. I’ve also learned to listen to everyone I meet and genuinely be interested in what they have to say. We all have something to teach and share with others. By listening to all voices, your perspective on the world can change dramatically. I want to be an example to others showing that it’s important to take risks. It might take a while and several cross-country moves before you find yourself, but determination and hope will reveal to you what you are looking for.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite place to hang out is Canyon Lake in the Superstition Mountains. I love to see the dynamic rocks explode out of the reflective lake underneath them. It’s a magical place to hike and paddle board. After a long day of physical activity, I like to visit Optimyze. Optimyze is a place that enhances physical, mental, and emotional wellness through natural approaches. I like to go and experience the infrared sauna and cold-water therapy to recharge my body and boost my mood. Finally, The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale is a great Latin restaurant to end your day with and enjoy a Prickly-Pear Margarita!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shout out to Taylor Victoria Nelson (@Taylor.victoria.art). Taylor has such a kind soul, and she is a gifted painter, muralist, and artist. Immediately after moving to Arizona, I began to search of ways to get involved with the local arts community. I reached out to Taylor on Instagram, and she has been a mentor to me ever since. Taylor introduced me to ArtLink Phoenix and other wonderful contacts here in Arizona. She has helped me in so many ways, and I am so grateful to have her in my life as an amazing friend.
Yvonne Xinyu Liang Hannah Latham