Fans of sports artwork will know the name Steve Skipper, one of the most prolific painters in the genre. Skipper had no formal training, yet his style, talent, and impact is unmatched. His life as an artist is just a small slice of his journey, and now Skipper's story is being told through the theatrical-length documentary Colors of Character: An Artist's Journey to Redemption, will be shown in theaters in November 2020. On November 11 and 12, the film will be shown during prime-time screenings and November 14 and 15 during matinee showings. Colors of Character will be released through a partnership between Collide Distribution and Iconic Events.
Skipper's story is nothing short of extraordinary. As a teen, Skipper was a member of one of the world's most notorious gangs, but after an encounter with Christ, his life was forever transformed. Understanding his calling as an artist, Skipper fearlessly began to hone his craft, a meticulous style of super-realism.
Throughout his career, Skipper has broken down doors of racism in the art world as the first African American to complete artwork sanctioned by NASCAR, the University of Alabama, the PGA, PBR, and with unveilings at the MGM Grand and the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas and at Chelsea Piers in New York. The Colors of Character film not only shares Skipper's life in his own words but also features interviews with key figures in Steve's life, from ministers to sports figures to Civil Rights icons.
Q: Steve, thanks for doing this interview with us. How do you feel to have a documentary film made about your life?
I still haven't gotten used to it. Feels like a dream that God gave because He simply wanted to. I didn't have the sense to pray for anything this big. This is an awesome opportunity to witness and to give Him glory for all He's done.
Q: Before you came to know Christ, you were involved in drugs and gangs. What attracted you to that kind of a lifestyle?
Dysfunction in the home which leaves you broken if not tended to. This makes you vulnerable and open for the lies of the enemy to try to solve what only Christ can.
Q: What happened next - how did God begin your life as an artist? How did you get started painting sports figures?
The night I got saved, the Minister (Jesse L. Minced Jr. ) told us that God was concerned about every aspect of our lives. One of the biggest lies the enemy had me convinced of was that no one cared for me except the gang members, but in that world there were very few that you could really trust. I had buried my artwork deeply under the sinful activities of gang life. When he preached that message, it hit me in my Spirit where I had buried it. Then he said God gave us all gifts and talent and every time we used them it brought God glory and made Him smile. I had fallen in love with Jesus that night and wanted to do everything I could to please Him. That preached word was like pouring gasoline on a fire. I started painting again every day.
Q: Your stories of your mother telling you that a person of color couldn't make it as an artist. What happened when you got a job to 'fall back on'? Does your mom still feel that way?
She did. She had a brother who was a very good artist. She saw racists send him into a life of depression and alcoholism because he wanted to be an artist. She was secretly afraid of that same thing happening to me. She didn't know that God had lit a different kind of fire on the inside of her baby boy that wouldn't go out in the face of great racism, but would burn to bring Him glory.
Q: What are the greatest lessons that you have learned over the years?
To obey the voice of my Creator while He teaches Creativity. To obey Him at every turn in life. His sheep know His voice. He will never lead you wrong. Don't lean on your own understanding, which is subject to the enemy's deception. Check with God and let Him direct your paths. You can end up being interviewed by a great person like yourself over a great documentary like "Colors of Character".
Q: What do you have to say to people who may have a calling but who aren't acting on it?
God requires much out of who He has given much. It's really not an option. It's a bad thing to stand before Him one day without using what He gave you. You were chosen before you were born to exercise your gift in this world. You were sent here by God to be a blessing to this world. That's why the enemy does everything he can to abort or abuse children to keep them from using their gifts. Most of the evil in the world is because chosen people have buried their chosen abilities under jobs, careers and occupations. If we were to use the gifts that God has chosen for us, the enemy would be hiding in fear instead of gloating with victory.
Q: What do you think are some take away lessons one can draw after watching "Colors of Character"?
I hope that gang members can see a way out. Those who are laden and heavy laden. Tired of the life but just don't see a way out. I hope they see that one of the devil's worst got out by the power of Christ himself. All of that talent that they've buried under a life of sin can be dug up and used to glorify God and bless a world that they once feared. I want the ordinary person to know how precious they are to God and that He hears the cry of the pain of their home dysfunction and is willing and able to turn their lives around with one powerful Prayer of Salvation on any altar on earth. Whether in a Church or even in an alley, their lives can be changed and they can find that awesome purpose that God has for their lives. When you die, die empty. Empty of everything that Christ gifted you with. The graveyard is full of not only bodies but unused Gifts and talents. Unwritten books, plays, movies, paintings, songs, etc. These could have changed the world and chased the enemy into the cracks of hell. Ask God; what Gifts did you give me? How can I use them? Ask Him right after you ask Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior.