Stephon Doby (b. 1989) makes drawings and paintings inspired by high school days and memories of old friends; of teen dramas, anime, sports teams, identity and ‘cliques’, and romance. His main research sources include Hentai cartoons and anime; the animated series, Total Drama Island; YouTube en masse and fan fiction on websites such as deviantart.com. By treating his cartoon-like figures almost as if they are reality show contestants, Doby creates works in which the actual event still has yet to take place or has just ended – moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense with a strong narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen. His obsession with the clever and diverse names and personalities of these characters reflects his extroverted sociability and ability to remember details about people.
Several recurring subject matters can be recognized, such as the relation with popular culture and media, working with repetition, provocation and the investigation of the process of social expectations. Though some of Doby’s work is quite erotic, all of his stories retain a fresh naïve appeal that belie his maturity and experience. Doby attends Malcolm X College and has future plans to become an animator. He joined Project Onward in 2010 and lives in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood.