Stephon Kiba Freeman is a husband, a stay-at-home dad, a neighbor, a friend, and a professional artist, based out of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Freeman’s medium is spray paint, and his creativity takes him on a wide array of pieces, such as garage door murals, street art, conhole games, standalone paintings, puzzles and more. His work veers from mystic sci-fi worlds, to mystical, to realistic landscapes, all telling endless magical stories, and all inspired by him being a husband and dad.
He attended one of Chicago's most prestigious high schools, Lane Tech College Prep, followed by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, graduating with a bachelor's of fine art degree. However, a study-abroad trip to Italy led his curiosity to the possibility of using spray paint to create fine art.
Freeman is also famous for his social media presence, where he shares his work and beautiful family – wife Jenna, and daughter, Soraiya – with the world.
It is a pleasure to feature him in this interview which is part our column titled “Creators.” Artists and art enthusiasts alike will enjoy viewing his art and reading his answers.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Stephon Kiba Freeman, creator and owner of Kiba Freeman Art, LLC.
Over the last six years or so, I have primarily created landscapes and scenery spray paint art. While the paint is wet, I am able to utilize layering, masking, and reductive techniques to produce unique effects. Since the birth of my daughter in 2018, my spray paintings have become a bit more whimsical in nature; pulling from how I imagine she views the world around her.
My recent work is still made mostly with spray paint; however, I have started to incorporate paint markers, water based spray paint, and the use of some stencils. Using my hands, palette knives, magazine paper, and other found objects are other ways I have been able to manipulate the wet paint. I have to cycle between working quickly and being patient because spray paint dries fast, but stays sticky too long to use a stencil or marker right away. It is because of my understanding of this balance that I am able to produce work that captivates the viewer.
Even with the slight change in my recent work, my objective remains the same: to allow the viewer to visit the places I mentally create as a form of escape. Welcome to my worlds: I hope you enjoy your stay.
Q. How did you first discover the art of painting?
A: I first discovered this style of painting (with spray paint) when I studied abroad as an undergraduate. I was in Rome, Italy and was instantly captivated by the process. I spent much of my free time (while in Rome) watching the artists create; trying to figure it out. I didn’t actually start learning this style until after I graduated.
Q. Do you remember your first painting?
A: My first sets of spray paintings all happened pretty fast/ in a short time so I don’t remember what I did first.
Q. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
A: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite piece because I tend to love certain elements of a painting (but not necessarily more than a different one). I’m currently really enjoying how my “scattered shards” pieces are coming together.
I’m probably most proud of the mural I have in Milwaukee’s Black Cat Alley.
Q. Is it hard to part with your art?
A: For the right price, no. I enjoy allowing other people to visit the worlds I create and find meanings in them.
Q. Is there a piece of your artwork would you like to be remembered for?
A: I don’t think it has been created yet.
Q. You were called a ‘hidden hero’ because of the art you create. Can you share some of the brilliant work that you do for your community?
A: I have painted some trash cans in Downtown Stevens Point, I have a few garage door murals, and host workshops to guide others in the art of spray painting. Currently working on a giant mural that I hope to finish in the next few weeks.
Q. Who or what influences you the most?
A: My daughter is my biggest muse and inspiration right now (and probably will be forever). I enjoy trying to depict how I think she may see the world. Through a more whimsical lens.
Q. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?
A: Start. That’s usually the hardest part. Practice makes it better. Practice, practice, practice.
Q. Do you have any art shows/events coming up?
A: Yes. A fairly busy summer. The landing page of my website –– KibaFreemanArt.com –– will have all of those updates, but I plan to do demonstrations/have a booth set up for Notes at night (Stevens Point), and the Levitt Amp concerts (Stevens Point). I’ll be at Southport Art Fest, in Chicago, in July, and I’m currently working on my biggest mural to date (Stevens Point). I’m also planning to do one workshop a month June-September. I’m probably missing something…
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