I recently went to visit the YWCA. I got in contact with Julia Figueroa. She works with immigrant women who come to the battered women's shelter. I told her about my project and what my goals were for it. She liked the idea but told me it would be difficult to get subjects at the women's shelter. She said that the shelter would not be allowed to give me subjects because of privacy issues, but she did reference to me Caracole. This center is for people who wanted to get tested for HIV. They provide safe and affordable housing for people living with HIV/AIDS. This was a good reference because I figure that the harder the struggle, the more people need extra support. I went to Caracole shortly after my visit to the women's shelter. The receptionist told me that iI might run into the same privacy issue, but he knows subjects that are a part of the program participate in videos for their company. So there are people who are willing to participate. The biggest hurdle right now is getting around this privacy issue. I figure that there has to be some participates that would want their own personal card for them to keep. For right now I will continue drawing my friends and any other people that I personally know.
I told one of my professors Tina, about my card idea. I told her how I wanted to help women with self-esteem and confidence. She told me about a women Debbie Brooks. She runs a battered women's shelter downtown. This shelter provides a safe place to live, a hotline, food, bathrooms, and a children's play area. They also provide support services. I will interview these women and make their own, personal cards. I'm really excited and hope that this will be a fun project for the women.
I had a discussion with Denise about my cards that I've been making. I showed her my new prototypes and she understood the pattern for one, but she didn't for the other. The one she did understand was the card I made with Kathleen Hanna's image on it. This one had bright orange and hot pink incorporated. She understood this because of the vibe that Kathleen puts off. She is a very colorful women. She's a very strong feminist who embraces her "girly" ways.
But the one that I made with Erykah Badu's image on, she wasn't feeling. She didn't understand my color choice and pattern. I used the primary colors, squares, and triangles. She saw that this pattern and these colors didn't go with the vibe of Erykah. I told her I understood and why I chose those colors. I didn't want to use colors associated with Erykah because I feel that it's too typical. I hated the thought of using African and earthy tones for Erykah. It felt too typical and cheesy. I like how the cards are quirky and off beat. With earth tones they aren't fun enough for me.
She did help me realize that I don't have to use geometric shapes for the cards. I can make up my own shapes. I can look at a woman and get a vibe from her. I can look at her physically and see what body language, personality, and an image she puts off. After I sit down and talk with her I can hopefully figure out what types of shapes I can use for their card. I really like this idea because it's so much more personal that just using random shapes because they flow well with the image. The card will tell more about the person too.
Today I had to bring in some of my most recent work for Advanced Drawing. The professor, Denise, was attracted to the cards that I had made over the summer. We got into a nice conversation about why I chose the certain people on my cards to draw. I mostly drew singers and actresses. I chose Diana Ross, Selena Quintanilla, Solange Knowles, Karyn Parsons, and FKA Twigs. I drew Diana and Selena because of them being musical icons. My mother would play Diana around the house. I would watch The Wiz with my sister and cousins. My sister and I would watch the Selena movie as children with my mom. We would sing along to the songs even though we struggled to sing along to them because they were mostly in Spanish. One of the strongest connections that I have loved and looked up to since childhood is that they were all divas. These were women that paved their own way to extreme success. They came from either nothing or normal middle-class families. Yet they believed in themselves and worked extremely hard to live the life they wanted to live by their own rules. Everybody wants that sense of freedom and happiness in their life. Divas make me believe in this being a possibility. They make me believe that they can get whatever they want whenever they want and will do it with confidence. As a child, I was so fascinated by this and still am in many aspects. They ooze confidence. Drag queens and gay culture has also had a connection with me. Drag queens and gays are forced in a way to have confidence because they have many challenges facing them in American just like us minorities do. Gays and minorities will always have to work harder, assert themselves, have more confidence, and have more fight in them just to get equal rights. This culture led me to the documentary called Paris is Burning. It was filmed in the late 80s in New York City. It focuses on black and latino gay males in Harlem that participate in underground shows called "Balls". Here they have fashion shows where they dress in certain categories such as Banji girls, upper rich society, straight male, college student, etc. They have voguing competitions. This is were voguing was born. They have drag competitions as well. What I really loved about these men was that they had no money, no food, no house, no family because their parents abandoned them for being gay, but they survived and still managed to participate in things that made them happy. They would spend days making their outfits. They had no money but managed to get fabric to make their outfit for the upcoming Ball. They had nothing but did what they had to do to be happy. They always wanted more out of life like to be rich and strived to make it high in the social life of these gay communities. They were never satisfied with their current financial situations, but they were happy that they had what they had, which wasn't much. Balls gave them a sense of community, a family, shelter, food, and everything they weren't getting at home. They were not ashamed of who they were in normal society because they knew that their own personal society were always there for them. They were unapologetic for who they were. Life was very hard for them, but no matter what they were doing they did their best to enjoy their lives. I will always admire divas and gay culture for this relentless shamelessness. It has taken me years and years to build up confidence. I have built up a very good amount of it, but I still have to write constant reminders and affirmations every day to conquer the day. I want to help others do this. Denise suggested that I put a message on the back of these cards. Messages or affirmations about always have the confidence of a diva or drag queen every day. I could sell them or give them to organizations that deal with building up self-esteem, self-confidence, bullying, young minority issues, and LGBT issues with children and teenagers. I would have loved for someone to given me a hand drawn and hand painted piece of art with words of self-empowerment on the back. I want to help others who don't have this self-esteem, self-love, and self-empowerment. I had to do it on my own. Yes, I had my mother, father, and grandparents to help me but they can only do so much before you want to help yourself. So these cards can be a constant reminder for these children who might not have a family to help them. Making art about self-empowerment is going to always be a constant reminder for me as well. I can only gain positivity from this project. This is my new adventure into territory that I've never been in before but I know that only positivity can come from it and I'm very excited to help others.
Here is a link to one of the unofficial trailers for Paris is Burning:
There's nothing that interesting when it comes to explaining my technical process for a drawing so instead of explaining one of my drawings, I will explain a series of cards I made and how I went about creating them. For my card series, I created 4 by 7-inch cards on bristol paper, painted them, then drew on top of the paint. I searched pictures of women that I wanted to recreate on my cards. I was looking for women who inspire me or intrigue me such as singers and actresses. I also drew women from Instagram that had a cool look to them. When I was finished the drawings I would then tag them in the post. One even posted my drawing on her page. After I found the drawing I would take my tracing paper and trace their figure. I decided to trace the figure instead of free hand it because I wanted a really loose interpretation of their body but still being recognizable as the person. I wanted smooth, bold lines so they can really pop. I would choose a paint color. At first I wanted pale paints that didn't really pop or stand out too much. As I created more I would add patterns on top. For the patterns, I would experiment with the paint brush's movement and see if that would create a cool look. I wanted really basic shapes that were fun and squiggly. After I traced the figure and the paint dried I would flip the tracing around and copy it onto the cut out 4 by 7 Card. It would transfer onto the paint very lightly. From there I outlined it with black pen or micron pen. I would photocopy and then choose to edit from there or keep it as the original.
Issey is an inspiration for me currently. I can really appreciate how he combines organic and geometric forms. On top of this he incorporates gorgeous patterns and stand out colors. I've been really into patterns lately. My current work has combined geometric work with the simple curved lines of a human. I would like to accomplish this look with only patterns, shapes, and no people. Issey does this with his clothing. Somehow I will find patterns that attract me geometrically and organically. I'll combine them and screen print the images.
His website: http://www.isseymiyake.com/en/
Researching for me is more of a hobby. Sometimes I don't like the word research because I associate it with a terribly boring class from high school but when it comes to art, the word feels way more "free". My research consists of watching documentaries, going to different blogs to find new artists, watching movies and film, and reading books or online articles. Most of the time I don't consider this to be research. I think of it as having fun on the internet. I realized that what I was looking up was having an effect on my life and artwork. Whatever I'm currently interested in I usually find it through researching. I become influenced. I will become almost obsessed with this subject and create work around it. I definitely go through phases due to my research. For example, my fashion illustrations. Last summer I cranked out fashion illustration after fashion illustration. At the time, I was watching a lot of old films such as All About Eve, A Streetcar Named Desire, Charade, and many other classic films from the 40s,50s, and 60s. I would google each of those films and read their Wiki page. There I could find out about the actresses and their wardrobe stylists. I would come across fashion illustrators such as Edith Head, stylist to the stars. I would google her which would lead me to many other illustrators. Then I would get inspired to illustrate. This is usually how my researching process works. Inspiration almost always comes from film. I will be a constant student and will always learn from my many phase even when I don't realize that I am.
Hip hop has taken over my life for the last couple of months. I've recently realized why I feel so awkward when my friends are in the car and they're spitting the new Future verse while I'm sitting there with a stupid grin on my face not knowing a single word. It's because I have hardly any connection with current hip-hop. When I hear the radio's top 40 hip-hop songs I've only heard of maybe 20. This realization screwed with my head somewhat because hip-hop is a huge part of my culture and I embrace my culture. The good and the bad parts of it. It also has an influence on my artwork because I draw people from urban lifestyles. A lot of my work revolves around black culture because it is my culture. So I had to find a way to connect to this music. I went through my iTunes to see what artists I had under the hip-hop genre. It was a very weak selection. All I could see was a huge Beastie Boys collection and a J.Cole song here and there. I remembered that the first CD I ever owned was the Beastie Boys License To Ill. I begged my dad for this $5.00 CD for weeks until we finally went into the record store and got it together. I was beyond thrilled. Beastie Boys is hands down one of my top 5 favorite artists to this day. My first connection with music was from the hip-hop genre. So why was it so hard to find that connection again? When I was younger I can remember my father playing the music that he grew up with, jazz, R&B, some pop, and hip-hop. I had already connected with every genre he raised me on except for hip-hop. While rooting through his CD collection, I got together every rapper that I knew I would somewhat like. For hours, I popped in one CD after the next and took a short listen to each song. Eventually, I got a very good selection. This is when I realized that I connect more with old school hip-hop than new school. Especially the 90s era. Common, Mos Def, A tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, Biggie, The Fugees, KRS-One, Wu-Tang, and even 2 Live Crew. There was a lot going on with African Americans in the 90's and the music always will reflect the times. I feel a really strong connection with my childhood and whenever I hear a song from it, my heart instantly melts because it reminds me of a very good time in my life. This is why My connection with hip-hop will mostly be from the 90s. 90s hip-hop also had the neo-soul influence because that was booming during those times too. Neo-soul incorporated jazz and hip-hop into the genre too. Neo-soul is the genre-defying sound of my childhood. Whenever I hear Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu I think of playing jump rope outside and my mother singing to it in the car. So all together 90s hip-hop was made for me to listen to. It's culture has influenced my artwork and will still do so today. I recently re-watched a documentary that Ice-T made about the roots of rap and hip-hop. It was a really good watch because I have this new found appreciation for rapping itself and how much talent it takes to be in this genre and to really succeed at it.
Here's the link to the documentary trailer:
The majority of my influences come from urban culture, films, music, and lifestyles. In my work, you can see these influences from different cultures around mainly the Untied States. The current African American, Hispanic, Chicano, and Indian cultures are focuses for my creativity. In the urban lifestyle, people are very proud of where they come from, their ethnicity, their heritage, and their culture. I feel the need to spread what they are so proud of to the viewers of my art. Brown people in America will always have a connection with each other that is unmistakably strong. Therefore, being and African American female, I can relate to these ethnicities, cultures, and lifestyles even if I am not a part of their race.
When it comes to my fashion illustrations, it takes me back to time periods that cannot be relieved. These illustrations are mostly influenced by the films I watch. Watching classics from the 50s and 60s are what inspires me to recreate the beautiful clothing that are forever known as historic moments in American fashion.
I am a Maryland native currently located in Cincinnati, Ohio, as I am enrolled in my third year at the University of Cincinnati's school of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). At DAAP I am majoring in fine arts with a focus on illustration. In my art, I portray a variety of people, cultures, and lifestyles. The majority of my influences for my artwork come from urban culture, film, fashion, music, and lifestyle. In my work, you can see these influences from the current African American, Hispanic, Chicano, and Indian cultures. In the urban lifestyle, people are very proud of where they come from, their ethnicity, their heritage, and their culture. I feel the need to spread what they are so proud of to the viewers of my art. The African Americans, Hispanics, Chicanos, Indians, and other minorities in America will always have a connection with each other that is unmistakably strong because of their struggles in America. Therefore, being and African American female, I can relate to these ethnicities, cultures, and lifestyles even if I am not a part of their race. The need to spread others heritages is an enjoyment of mines and I happily do so in my artwork.