Pablo Youngs, nicknamed “Picasso” in preschool, has more in common with the famous artist than a shared first name. Not through his artistic style, but he does have a similar passion and drive to be a great artist.

Youngs’ artistic talent has been encouraged from a young age, and almost all of his art is driven by a deep connection to his upbringing. Throughout his childhood, both of Youngs’ parents nurtured his artistic interest.

“When I was a kid, my mom took me to a lot of museums and galleries,” Youngs said.  “[But] she never said ‘you’re good at that, you should do this’; she allowed me to go in my own direction.”

Photo courtesy of Pablo Youngs
Photo courtesy of Pablo Youngs

Youngs was also immersed in art at home. He said he was exposed to a lot of Hispanic and Latin American art as a kid. He “subconsciously absorbed” those styles.

It wasn’t only formal art, however, that inspired his artistic creativity. He also grew up reading comic books, and became fascinated with colors, imagery, shading and characters, he said. All this artistic exposure quickly led to Youngs’ own creativity.

“I just started drawing pictures as a kid and never stopped,” Youngs said.

Youngs said that his biggest inspiration remains his childhood because of this upbringing. He says that his mother makes sure that he does not forget where he came from.

More generally, Youngs’ attitude toward his work as an artist is also a kind of combination of what he learned from his mother and father. He was and is “influenced subconsciously by everything they do.” From his mother, he remembers his cultural upbringing, and from his father, he takes a thoughtful and plan-it-out approach to art.

“Everything my dad does, he really puts a lot of thought into it,” Youngs said. “He’s a very premeditative person.” All of this adds up for Youngs to his perception of his own art as “thought-oriented and culturally aware.”

In addition to his upbringing, Youngs also draws heavily on his current experiences teaching art. He teaches classes to children over the summer at CityArts in Providence, and often draws inspiration from his young students. When Youngs finds himself thinking too hard, he says that the best thing for him is “to remember how easy it was for them to be creative.”

Youngs’ style and subject matter mostly consists of drawn, abstract depictions of tribal animals. He calls his Latin-American inspired art “tattoo-like.”

His favorite artistic memory is the moment when he discovered this style for himself. “I was sitting in class, [my professor] takes his phone out and takes a picture of my hand,” Youngs said. “He said, ‘take that style and draw that picture: take it to the next step.’”

After Youngs completed that piece, his professor told him that he had mastered his own style. “He was confident enough in me, and he pushed me to a new level,” Youngs said.

His favorite piece of art so far is his tribal series based on that style (see above). He described it as “animals abstracted out of shapes, almost like a puzzle.”

Youngs produced about a dozen of these drawings. It was the first time he said “this is my style.” As a result, Youngs says that his biggest challenge is “to come up with something original,” and for him that is “what separates the good from the bad is originality.”

Photo courtesy of Pablo Youngs
Photo courtesy of Pablo Youngs

Because he prizes novelty in art so highly, Youngs said that the biggest compliment he can receive is that it generated a new thought for someone. For example, “I’ve never thought of that before.”

Looking toward the future, Youngs is intensely focused on improving and making a name for himself as an artist. As his mother is an artist who herself “has connections,” Youngs stressed that he doesn’t want to rely on them. “I don’t want to live off that; I’d rather establish myself as a local artist in Rhode Island.”