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Sage Guillory's unlikely path to success

Meet the once-homeless artist working with your favorite musicians

After overcoming constant moving and homelessness, Sage Guillory admits he's a positive person and manifests his experiences into artwork. Guillory's dreamlike, psychedelic illustrations are shaded with careful line work displayed in pieces such as "Built on the Blues," an illustration alluding to the birth of America being built on the backs of African- and Native Americans. The illustration depicts a blue figure in the forefront lying on his back with a long nose protruding from his face. Swastikas are planted along his body.

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At 23, the visual artist has gained recognition for doing the album art for young local musicians OG Maco, Key!, and Raury. His success is inspiring considering the path he took. Moving house to house with his mother and brother throughout his childhood, art was Guillory's creative outlet. As a child he was known as the creative one everyone anticipated would do great things. "I realized I can design my own life," he says.

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He recalls his family constantly being evicted when he was young, and tagging "NOT A HOME" in his grandmother's basement when his family had to move in with her in order to have a roof over their head. Even after breaking away from his family to pursue his own artistic career, he was living couch to couch at friends' places until he was able to make a living off of his art.

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Guillory says that despite the eerie aesthetic, psychedelics play no part in his art. Guillory spoke to Creative Loafing about life's obstacles and how he measures success.

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What was it like after people started to see the work that you did for Raury?

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I had a sketchbook that I carried around for two or three years and I just drew in there and showed all my friends and people I meet in the city, and they'd say, "You're the best artist in Atlanta." I don't like when people say that shit. I don't believe that, but they would say things like that and I thought maybe I should try it, but when it first started coming out, everybody was just on some "it's about time" shit.

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Do you feel like Atlanta embraces up-and-coming artists?

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I think so. Raury could've got any artist, but chose me ... Even with everybody trying to make it at the same time, I don't really believe in competition because I feel like everyone can win.

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What has been the biggest obstacle so far for you as an artist?

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People knew I did art and knew I was good at it, but they didn't really take me seriously. They didn't say it, but I felt it ... People doubted me, but it wasn't like they doubted me and discouraged me. For me, it was a "you'll see soon" type of thing. I don't really come into obstacles just because I don't see them as obstacles. It's all about perception.

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Besides being known for your artwork for Raury, what are some other career highlights?

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J.I.D. and 6lack, and OG Maco, they did a song called "W4R," and one of them asked me to do the artwork for it. People didn't know it was me, and I put it on my Instagram and now people say, "Oh you did this! You did that!" And I did this Gucci drawing of Gucci with a halo above him. I did that and a lot of people got it on their phones and their blogs, but they never knew it was me. So now it's like people are recognizing what I do.

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What does that feel like for you?

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It's awesome. It's just cool because I'm giving out the most genuine thing I can give, which is my artwork, and people remember it. People notice it, and that makes me really happy.

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What's success to you?

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This is how I measure success. I want to be able to live comfortably, put tons of money into my projects. I want to be able to do million-dollar projects, and also give back. That's my idea of success. I want to have a whole lot of money just because I really want to help people. I really want to give money to communities, because they don't care about us, and I feel like it's going to take us to help us.



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