Born in Manhattan, New York in 1970 and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey, his Caribbean culture and upbringing heavily influenced his artistic abilities. His medium was the dough his father would give him to mold into fried dumpling sculptures; which along with, ackee and saltfish were a Sunday morning breakfast staple in the Ellis’ Jamaican home. Lance and Marlene Ellis not only wanted their children to embrace their heritage and culture, but also wanted them to be educated and well rounded in the visual and performing arts.
Ellis enjoyed painting as a youth, but was lured to music while in the third grade. He inherited his older brother’s saxophone and found the gritty, sexy sound all too alluring. While attending high school, Ellis began to make the music and art connection by drawing and painting while listening to various rhythm and blues artists. The sultry melodies transformed his works into a style where he uses bold lines and colors. Ellis creates often, but prefers to work into the late night hours. This came about during his undergraduate years of training at New Jersey City University.
The music was implemented serving as a catalyst to evoke feelings of passion and sensuality. Ellis soon found himself creating a unique style where he integrated his boldness for line with a touch of subtle layers of color. During the evening hours he enjoys creating his work while listening to Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown, Kim Waters, and Boney James. He feels he has matured as an artist since his undergraduate years where his instructors would question his work ethic and mindset. Ellis figured he would do just enough to get by. He soon realized he would have to become his own toughest critic. One of his teachers explained to him, “Do not do things halfheartedly”. A statement so simple, yet profound, made him realize that if he ever desired to become a successful artist, he must put all of his heart and soul into all of his work.
Ellis enjoys the works of Leroy Campbell, LaShun Beal, Frank Morrison, Alonzo Adams, Poncho Brown and sculptor Woodrow Nash. Ellis knows their contributions to the arts have allowed doors to open and opportunities to flow his way. He has participated in selected group exhibitions, solo exhibitions and has displayed his works in several galleries. Ellis feels he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential as an artist and is eager to challenge himself in his ongoing journey.