Featured Artist: Interview with Deonta Allen

Featured Social Justice Artists

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

We're kicking off our Featured Artists series with the street artist who started it all: Deonta Allen. Read more about Deonta Allen's background, artistic inspiration, and future plans in our interview below!

Q&A With Street Artist Deonta Allen

Can you provide a little detail about your background?

I’m from Richmond, California, went to Alabama to play football and then came back after graduation and took on art as a past time. I work for the East Bay RegionalPark District, starting out doing different things and I’m a park ranger now.  I got serious about my art after about five years ago and my focus is on painting the world I’d like to see.  I’ve been married for five years and have twins – a boy and a girl.

Where do you get ideas for your murals?

I get my ideas from the world around me, I look at the social climate, where we are as a society, where we are with diversity – these are huge influences on where my art comes from.  My last few murals have been a straight focus on spreading love and taking people’s minds off their troubles.  My motivation comes from my surroundings, my immediate family and my mood.

What has been your favorite reaction to one of your murals?

In July 2020, I had the opportunity to paint Black Lives Matter on the streets of Richmond, California, where I grew up, near the Civic Center.  The reaction was memorable.  Many in the community came out to help, more than 300 people painting side by side – kids, mothers, grandparents.

Other than the H&S murals, where else have you created murals?

In addition to the Richmond Civic Center, I’ve also created murals for the City of Emeryville, the City of Oakland, and on a ton of boarded up businesses.

What other artists inspire you?

Many artists have influenced my work.  Jackson Pollock is principal among these.  However, many local artists have inspired me as well.  Among these areTimothy B., Splash Gang Original, Natty Rebel (who created a mural right next to Haddad & Sherwin). It’s all about telling a story.

How many murals have you created so far?

I have made a total of 10 murals so far, over the years.  On a trip to Belize, I had an opportunity create one there. I have family in New York City that has property, and had the opportunity to decorate their yard, which was a wall, a side of their building.I’ve had opportunities in different areas.

What will your next mural be?

If God permits, I would like to create a timeline that shows where we are as a people. It would be universal, could represent any city or community. It’s been designed but it’s tough because I want to think about our community.  I’m trying to create a timestamp and tell a story. That’s how I look at it.  It’s trying to tell a story and capture that story with a mural. The timeline will tell the story of where we’ve come from and what the possibilities could be. I’m really looking forward to creating it.

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