Talent, beauty, and intelligence are qualities synonymous with success. The virtuoso Diana Reyes is an embodiment of them all. Her paintbrush has graced canvases from Toronto to Brooklyn and back, crafting radiant urban mosaics while headlining art shows and building upon a burgeoning reputation.
With myriad skills- dancer, model, artist, actress- the aptly named Fly Lady Di is poised to flourish- leaving a legacy of beautiful artistry and indisputable style in her wake. Born and bred north of the 49th parallel in the GTA (Canada’s largest metropolitan area), her gifts have been extolled by industry moguls such as Little X, who described her to be. “One of the most talented [dancers] I have ever seen.”
Format was privileged to be given insight into her creative process, along with a glimpse into what the future holds for the one Fly Lady Di.
“fuck what people think anyways, if you’re putting it out there for the world it’s almost like showing you’re vagina. You’re showing your private part.”
Format: What was the first piece you created that caught the attention of your peers?
Fly Lady Di: To be honest, it was on MySpace. I’d just started painting again, after not painting for four years, because I was dancing professionally. So my first painting I did in four years I put up on MySpace. Once I started posting my artwork, my myspace just blew up- this is like two and a half years ago. But the first painting I did is called a “Brand New Day” and it’s sort of like a self-portrait, done in a very cubist way, and that painting is what caught people’s attention. No one really knew I could paint.
Format: When did you realize that you could turn your talents into a career?
Fly Lady Di: Well, when I danced, it was strictly about dance. Visual Arts has always been such a big part of me, but dance had always been something that I had to acquire or work hard for, you know? So I always kind of took art for granted and left it alone. But once I started doing it again I realized I could turn it into a career, because this is something I was born to do and why ignore that? Why not own the skills that you have from God?
Format: You’re a multi-faceted artists involved in a bunch of things, whether it be dance, modeling, or painting, but what was your first passion?
Fly Lady Di: It definitely had to be my painting and drawing. One of my first memories ever in life was watching my dad paint at the dining room table, and just instantly knowing I was going to be an artist. After watching my dad and telling him “I want to do that too,” I would just grab whatever I could write with and scribble on anything. Anything that you could write on, I would have some sort of tag or something you know. This is when I was like, five years old.
Format: Can you elaborate on your creative process?
Fly Lady Di: Well, dance is different because it’s a totally different means of preparation. With art, it all comes down to a concept in mind. It’s weird, I don’t know if I think the same way as other people who are visual artists. If I have a certain feeling or emotion or something I really want to express, they’ll be some vision inside of my head. I’ve been studying art since I was a little kid. I’ve been reading and studying Picasso and Dali and all the greats since I was little. So, just going into their visual world, because I view painting as a window into your soul or dreams , studying those windows you adapt your own. When I hit the canvas it’s all god doing the work, it’s not me anymore you know?
That’s what I truly feel, I can barely take responsibility for the work that I do, because, it’s really Gods work.
Format: How did you end up in New York City?
Fly Lady Di: Very long story, I originally moved to New York to be a dancer. At the time, like in 2004 the industry was still pretty hot. If you wanted to be a dancer, you could be a dancer, and get work. So, I came to New York at the tail end of that wave so I didn’t really get there when I wanted to. I did book a lot of work luckily, but I wasn’t really able to reach that pinnacle. However, I was here illegally, I was here without any paper or status for the United States, because I’m from Canada. A year and half later, it caught up to me at the border- they actually read my journal they stopped me and questioned me. I guess they could tell I wasn’t a student at McGill like I said I was. So they banned me from the states for nine months. Luckily, I was able to come back with a Visa. Thank god I knew people who were willing enough to help me in that situation.
Format: Is there a parallel between the art scenes in Toronto and New York?
Fly Lady Di: There’s a huge difference. The mentality of Canadians is totally different from that of Americans, or New Yorkers in general. Canadians aren’t as hungry for that dollar of that scrap you know? But Americans will take everything they can. They’ll pillage for that little piece of the pie. So we’re not as hungry. It’s just not as competitive, but the thing about it is, is that in Toronto there’s so much talent. You have to have hunger if you know you have something to offer, you have to have that drive. Like me, I had to come to New York and do it. But it’s still hard, it’s still really hard. I’m still broke, it’s not easy at all by any means. The trick about it is, is making it look easy, so people keep booking you to do stuff.
Format: What’s painting live for a crowd like?
Fly Lady Di: I’m a very solitary person; I love being alone and diving into my work. Painting in private is totally different, my quality of lines are much better when I’m alone and can concentrate. Painting live, you have to totally block out everything that’s going on because there are so many distractions. The music is blaring, there’s people taping on your shoulder every five minutes, and then your thinking “ I have to change this colour, or I have to change this or that,” and then there are road blocks. I’ll have to change my water, because my waters too murky, then I have to go through the crowd and someone will stop me and start talking. It’s a totally different thing. But luckily I manage, I’ve done it enough to know how to manage around that.
Format: How much experimentation with your work has it taken for you to come into your own niche?
Fly Lady Di: It’s constant experimentation. With a lot of things it was just like an urge to try something… It’s just about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. And you know what, fuck what people think anyways, if you’re putting it out there for the world it’s almost like showing you’re vagina. You’re showing your private part.
Format: How do you define your style?
Fly Lady Di: I always say it’s a cross between Cubism and Graffiti. And people get a visual in their heads, when their like “Oh, I’ve never seen that done before.” Another one I like to use is “Cohesive Cubism.”
Format: What does the future hold for you?
Fly Lady Di: The future holds a lot. I do want to get the attention of like, a jury panel to review my work. Someone in a major publication like the New York Times, or Art Forum- magazines like that. I just want to reach that point in my art career where it’s like, I’ve done enough and I can come back to it where I please. And I really want to start acting. That’s something I’m really hungry to do right now. And then make films, be a filmmaker like my friend like Mario Van Peebles and be a voice for people of colour. That’s really important for me, to really represent women of colour. And Canadians of course.
More Info: http://http://www.myspace.com/flyladydi