Justin “Chance” Nannassy

Justin Nannassy is an artist, poet and musician. He is a good friend and mentee of Louis Ferreira.

In the interview below he shares his thoughts on his artwork and poetry, as well as his friendship with Louis. At the time of the interview he went by his nickname Chance.

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FF – Well, hello to Justin Chance (Nannassy) who is a good friend and mentee of Louis Ferreira. He usually goes by his last name, Chance. And so, Chance, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Chance and what gets you up in the morning?

JCN – What gets me up in the morning is just, I think it’s hope. Just the feeling of hope that the sun is going to set today, it’s going to rise again tomorrow and there’s always something to look forward to. As long as there is breath in my lungs there is purpose in my life. And so that’s what keeps me waking up is following my dreams and being… if I’m going to dream, I’m going to dream extreme. And I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get there. So really just my dreams and passion – if you’re gonna love your life, love your life with a vengeance.

FF – That sounds wonderful. So, I’ve known you for, well, I guess nine months or so? And I’ve known you mostly as a graphic artist, a poet and a musician. And you’ve shown me drawings and I’ve read your poetry and you’ve also let me listen to some of your music. So can you tell us a little bit about those three specific creative areas? You’re not one of those people who says, well okay, I’m a painter. Or I’m a sculptor. You do so many different things in so many different art forms. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in these three areas. And what kind of training did you have. Are you self-taught? Who are your people that you emulate or that you admire in those various areas? So tell us a little about your art.

JCN – I think it started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I think I was two years old and my grandmother bought me my first Star Wars action figure. And I was just in love with, at that point, with creative things. And I was always drawing and my mother had said that I was always drawing and that if I had a pencil in my hand I was always doing, scribbling something on a page.

And then, as I got older, she would try to put me into art classes. And I would end up leaving the art classes because I wouldn’t listen to what the art teacher said to do and I would just draw my own characters and my own creatures…. We would go to Mass on Sundays and we’d be sitting there in church and people would turn to her and be like, why do you let your son draw during the service. And she’d be like, well, this is how he pays attention. And I’d be drawing Darth Vader with a Bible and stuff like that during Mass.

It’s what kept me going. I mean art, I remember being a vital part of my life. Ever since I was a kid. And music, whenever there was music on I was dancing or I was singing or going along to the music. So it was always whatever had to do with the arts, I wanted to be a part of.

I remember as young as I could. trying to be a part of plays, drama, things at school. Being involved in anything that was creative and anything that would allow me to use my creativity and just be a big ham in front of the audience.

FF – So art, for you, is a way of interacting with the world as such? You said that “this is how he pays attention”, to me that really rings a bell. This is a way for you to communicate?

JCN – Yeah, I feel it’s the way I believe and I feel that that’s the way that I get everything out of me that I gotta get out of me because when I’m happy I go out and be happy.
But when I have something that’s bothering me, sometimes, or I have something inside that I just haven’t figured out or haven’t broken or some type of past demon I’m dealing with or something that is, at the core, just eating me alive, and then I sit down and start drawing or I start writing a song or I start writing a story.

And after that I feel healed, I feel like there’s a part of me that is just alive at that point. I’m able to get up and go, okay, I got that out. And that’s good. And hopefully what I got out will be able to heal somebody else.

FF – So, art and the creative force, for you, is something that goes from the inside towards the outside, and not the other way around. Like for a lot of artists it’s like, oh, they experience something and then you internalize it as an art form. But for you this is a way of giving back, as well.

JCN – Yeah, I think it’s a self-medicating thing. I think it’s a way of self-medicating myself. It’s a way of finding a way to get out of me the things that are bothering me or even the things that make me happy. It has to do with the old cliché of life, love and why.
FF – Yes.

JCN – I think that it is those ABCs that you keep going back and forth and you keep asking the question, why am I here?

FF – Yes.

JCN – And then you realize, well I am here, so I gotta do something about it, because I am here. And I think art is a tool that’s a universal language that you could use and it could reach anybody, no matter where they are or what language they speak. They don’t have to speak the same language that you do. You could just show them a picture and out of that picture you could arouse some type of emotion. And out of that you could spawn a whole array of feelings that they never knew they had. Art is just a way of communicating.

FF – Where do you find your inspiration for your art? You’ve mentioned that something happens to you or something’s eating at you and you working with it, but how do you decide if something becomes a poem or a drawing or a piece of music? Where does that process happen? That you decide, oh, this is better off being a drawing or this is better off becoming a poem? How do you make those decisions?

JCN – I think that part of it is discovery. That part of it is, every day, discovering more about yourself. Discovering more about the relationships that you’re in with other people.

Discovering the abilities that you have and along the way the things that inspire me. It could be from writing in my journal or jotting something down that happens during the day. Or a conversation with somebody. And from that, that can either turn into a poem, or that could turn into a song or that could turn into a script or that could even turn into a drawing. But it’s just inspired off of conversation. And inspired off of events that happen. Real life events. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

FF – Let’s talk a little about the three drawings that you chose to share with us. And I don’t have the titles for them so I’m just going to use titles I made up.

JCN – They’re all untitled at this point. They’re all characters that have been created that haven’t been picked or used yet for any specific story. The one that’s in color is part of a new children’s book that I just finished that I’m in the process of doing the sketches for.

FF – Okay, now, is that a digital artwork? It looks like it was done with some kind of digital program?

JCN – Yeah, I had actually… that was an experimental piece, I had sketched that and come up with the characters and then a friend of mine had digitally colored it (Sam Flugrad).

FF – Oh, okay, all right. So it started out just as a black and white sketch? And then it was colored in later?

JCN – Yeah, it was just a black and white sketch with an ultra-fine Sharpie.

FF – So, I just called it The Officer at the Campfire because that’s what I’m seeing in there.

Somebody who looks like a police officer, but he’s at the campfire and something’s coming out of the campfire, some, some…

JCN – Yeah, he’s a zookeeper.

FF – Okay.

JCN – He’s a zookeeper and out of the fire somebody is surfing. So it’s just an image that he saw in the fire. Just how sometimes we look at the clouds and we see all different crazy images. He saw an image coming out of the fire.

FF – Right, right, right, I got it. I got it.

FF – And then the other one, I call it The Fuzzy Snake.

JCN – Yeah, that’s my interpretation of things that I believe that live in the ocean. So yeah, those are my underwater friends. Maybe they’re friendly, though.

FF – Yep.

JCN – But they are weird looking.

FF – He doesn’t look too terribly fearsome, he looks maybe a little bit confused, or a little bit, “what am I doing here?” You know? That’s why I’m calling him fuzzy.

JCN – Yeah, but if I’m under the water with him and he’s confused and I’m not really supposed to be in the water anyway, it’s pretty scary.

FF – Yeah.

JCN – So, it’s one of those things where it’s like, oh yeah, I’d love to see him behind some glass while I’m eating a bag of popcorn or something.

FF – Right.

FF – And then the third one you sent me – I call it The Guy with the Whirligig.

JCN – Yeah, that character was interesting – he kind of became an ancient time traveler. Just this guy’s wisdom, this guy that has seen everything and has been everywhere and has come to a place now where he’s full of all this wisdom but also full of all this sorrow.

And so he’s been there and done it all and seen everything, and he’s one of those guys that just stays in his shop now and writes these amazing books that hopefully one day we’ll all read and will guide us into a different direction that is not self-destruction.

FF – Right, right, right.

JCN – The Ancient Time Traveler.

FF – I do get that time traveler thing because one of his eyes is a lens that looks almost like a telescope lens. So something about that reminded me of science fiction or bionic man, seen all, done all and now slowly turning into technology or something as his older body might be breaking down.

And so now he has this telescopic eye. But there he is with a whirligig and I just thought that was something sad and endearing.

JCN – Yeah, I was trying to do a cross between Galileo and steampunk.

FF – Yeah, yeah. No, I totally got that steampunk thing. And it’s an art form and a culture all unto itself. But there’s a lot of fun to be had. And a lot of truth to be had as well. And a lot of nostalgia which I think comes very clearly through, in that picture.

FF – Now, you also sent us, or shared with us, two poems. And one of them is Brokenology, and I think that’s the first one that you sent me right after we met last summer. You want to talk a little bit about that?

JCN – Yeah, Brokenology was a title that I came up with, actually, as a book title for a book I’m working on, of poetry. A collection of all my thoughts, and I titled it Brokenology which is the Art of the Broken Heart.

And so that was inspired from my earlier years, my younger years of falling in and out of love and meeting new people and experiencing what life is all about, and realizing that sometimes we fall in love to fall out of love to get a broken heart, because it  prepares us for that person we’re gonna be.

That we could be ready to understand what love is all about. I don’t even, I don’t think I’m there yet. So that’s why it’s called Brokenology.

FF – Well, it’s always a work in progress. Your life is a work in progress. You never know how it ends.

JCN – Yeah, so that’s what it’s just about. More or less I had written it as a calling card for all the outcasts of society, the people that have been broken-hearted, the people, the fatherless, the orphan, the people that have been hurt before. It’s just one of those things, it’s just a call and say hey, you know what, I’ve gone through the same things you’ve gone through and I’ve also found something I can take it to in my life. I’ve also found hope.

FF – Now, AntMan is probably one of my favorite poems, too. It’s right there on my list. Talk a little bit about AntMan. How did that come about?

JCN – That piece is interesting because it came about out of my journal.

It was actually a day that I was writing on the train in L.A. And I was at the end of my rope with certain things in my life, a little depressed about things I was going through. And I was just like, you know what, I’m just gonna write out my thoughts and write out my feelings. And I wrote it out and, the original piece, I ended, and one day I was looking at it and I re-read what I had written. I went back a few weeks and I looked at my journal and I read that. And I was like, Oh my God,  this is a good piece to use as a poem. And so I took a few lines out here and there and cleaned it up and it became AntMan.

FF – Yeah.

JCN – And it was the idea that sometimes I feel like I just got here and I think that sometimes we all feel that way. Is there a supreme being, or is there somebody out there that hears me and knows what I’m going through?
And I thought about the ants, how I can’t even hear what they’re talking about, I can’t hear anything that’s going on in their lives.

And I thought, well, is that how God sees me? Maybe I’m the AntMan. Maybe I’m this small ant that he just looks down upon and he doesn’t hear my moan for existence or my cry for life. It’s just a question, it was just a question of faith and at the same time a battle with doubt.

FF – My next question to you is, tell us a bit about how you met Louis and how he became your mentor.

JCN – We met each other the second week I’d moved to L.A. I’d been here for about two weeks and I was out to eat and I was at a Mexican restaurant and I just started talking with this amazing man next to me about certain things in my life and he started talking about certain things in his life. And we had a lot of things in common and it just clicked.

It’s just at that moment, it was one of those moments where you’re talking with somebody and you’re just like, man, I really want to hang out with this person, this person is really cool.

FF – Yeah.

JCN – We just talked about certain things and he was like, yeah, let me get your number, and I gave him my number. And I had called him a couple days later and we went and we hung out and we just talked more and he became a mentor to me, in my life, because I was fresh out here in L.A. I didn’t know anybody. And it was a moment where it was someone who just took me under their wing. And gave me advice, just life advice.

FF – Yeah.

JCN – Advice about growing up as a person and being out here in L.A. and being able to survive the battle that goes on every day out here in Hollywood.

FF – Isn’t it nice, though, that you can find these treasures in everyday life when you least expect it?

JCN – Yeah, it’s one of those things you can’t plan. And it’s amazing, and I believe, a lot of times, it’s destiny. A lot of people say, well is it luck or coincidence. But you know there’s just certain cards that fall in certain ways that you just look back, it’s not at that moment that you see it or it’s not something that you can envision a few steps ahead.

But when you look back, a year later, and you’re like, wow, it’s amazing how all those pieces fell into place. And then you know that there’s something that is orchestrating your path when you follow your heart.

FF – I have one more question for you. If you could describe Louis with four words, what would those four words be?

JCN – That’s an awesome, awesome question. Awesome question. He’s a man of integrity. He’s Father Christmas. He’s a fire starter who inspires people’s dreams. And he’s just, simply, a man that is full of love.

FF – Fantastic. So, Chance, if people want to see more of your artwork or read more of your poetry, where can they go to see other examples that you have easy access to so you can constantly update it.

JCN – On Facebook you could look me up under Justin Chance which is Facebook.com/Chancefanpage (Note: you need to friend him first before you can access the page), and on Instagram, it’s @officialchancemusic and which is also Justin Chance, and if anybody would like to contact me personally for any drawings or writings it’s .

FF – Thank you so much for your time tonight.

JCN – Appreciate it. I hope you have a beautiful night.

FF – Thank you, Chance. Bye-bye.

Thanks to Casey for the transcript!

Justin’s Music Videos

Justin’s single Glock now has its Official Music Video available online. It was directed by Colin Waite, the video was produced by Henry A Hawkins, the music was produced by Aidean Abounasseri.

Watch it on Justin’s YouTube channel!

Justin’s Art Gallery

Justin’s artwork has all been collected in his online gallery.

Check out his gallery here!

Justin’s Poetry Collection

Justin’s poetry has all been collected in his online poetry book.

Check out the collection here!

Justin Then And Now

Justin, 5 years old
Justin, today