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Ones To Watch: Mixing Mediums With Delfin Finley

This week we meet with 25-year-old LA native Delfin Finley. If you don’t know him by name, you definitely know his work, and it’s clear that this artist has a unique gift for mixing mediums.

Delfin’s ability to draw and paint makes it hard for one to distinguish between painting and photograph. And when you see his work, it is easy to understand why it is in such high demand, with clients ranging from Union Los Angeles and Jordan Brand, to Steve Lacy and more.

Born in LA to parents who were both fashion designers, Finley was raised in a household where creativity and individuality was highly celebrated. He mentioned that everything he did was about expressing himself through drawing. He also noted that while he has been drawing for most of his life, he didn’t really take it seriously until he went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

We had the chance to meet with him at his studio to talk about his upbringing in LA, his challenges as an artist, and the issues he believes society should be talking about more.

Being a native of south central, what was your experience growing up in LA? What does it mean to you to be originally from the West Coast? 

I’m very proud of being a native of Los Angeles. I was raised in South Central, living my early years in my parents’ Design Studio. My environment from day one was one of much creativity and freedom to be myself. I lived in South Central, but was going to grade school in West LA.

So I was able to experience the whole spectrum of what LA has to offer. I’m grateful for the friendships I have from both communities. The more I see the world and meet other people, the more my bond to the West Coast deepens.

I realize that people from this coast really do have a very diverse history to work and thrive from. We are much more able to pull from many different cultures because of the mix of people we have grown with.

Do you remember the first thing you ever drew? What was it and what sparked you to pick up a pencil and draw it?

I don’t remember my, “first” drawing, but I know I’ve always been really into sports, so all throughout my early years, I would draw my favorite basketball and football players.

What would you say is the most difficult thing for you to draw/paint? People? Clothes? Background? 

Definitely the human face, there are so many nuances to the facial expressions and even the smallest, most subtle mistake can change somebody’s expression or likeness completely. I’m usually painting somebody that I know personally, so there’s always an added pressure to get the likeness as close as I possibly can.

What is the typical turnaround time for your work? From concept to completion?

It really depends on the size, I enjoy making larger paintings, so a painting around 7ft tall usually takes about a month to complete.

With your last exhibition you speak on your experiences of racial oppression, bias & violence, and how that is expressed through your work. In your opinion, have we moved forward as a society with these issues? Is the most controversial social issue society needs to be talking about more still racism within our community? 

Society takes a takes a step forward in the right direction every now and then, but before you know it, they take 2 steps back. It’s critical that we continue to shine a spotlight on inequality and racial oppression as long as there are victims.

We must continue to use our voice through our respective work and not allow history to be sanitized.

By owning where we come from, we can keep pushing forward and improving constantly.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?

Closed mouths don’t get fed.

When are you most productive?

At night.

Describe your 20’s in one word.


Quality of life or quantity of life? 


And finally, what’s next for you? 

I’m working on a new body of work right now, so getting that finished is going to be my main focus for a while.

Stay tuned to Milk for more from the west coast.

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