October 22, 2013 • FEATURED, GALLERY

I met Artis downtown, painting alongside the St. Louis Cathedral with a number of other local artists. Something about his work stood out to me, though; the realism and detail that he puts into each piece is incredible. “These are speed paintings,” he says. These paintings, some of them taking up to four hours to complete, is how Artis and many others in New Orleans earn a living.

One thing I noticed was that he wasn’t only painting large commissions. He was also selling smaller works for those without enough money, or for someone who wants to purchase art on impulse. He creates for everyone.

We talked for 30 minutes or so about his history in the city, the meaning behind some of his paintings, a legendary singer named Sweet Emma (whose story is quite fascinating) and life in general before the rain began to fall. To protect my equipment and myself, we had to end our conversation early. But it won’t be the last I see of Artis.

You can visit him any time by the St. Louis Cathedral painting and selling his work.

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Donovan Williams

Donovan Williams is a photographer and filmmaker based in New Orleans. You can view his work at

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