Serenity Headwrap: #1
Serenity Headwrap: #3
Origins of the Headwrap
The headwrap series came to me one day, as I was racking my brain. I was trying to figure out how I could find a unique way to celebrate black womanhood. I asked myself... What would be an example (and there are many) of how everyday black woman maintain customs that have roots in Africa. I felt headwraps would be a visual cue that could transcend any particular location, but are unmistakably and unapologetically black. It doesn't matter what part of the African diaspora you come from, majority of black woman are familiar with headwrapping. Some wrap their head or hair to protect it, adorn it, or tuck it away.
When I get an idea for an art piece or series, I often set out to do some research on the theme. What I was surprised to discover was...
1. There is much information to glean about American history, as it pertains to black woman and our hair.
2. There are many layers to what headwraps represent throughout the continent of Africa.
Did you know there were laws passed throughout American history that required black woman to wear their hair bound?
However, in every instance American black woman collectively and creatively found practical, fashionable and culturally relevant uses for the headwraps amidst the unjust circumstances.
Did you know headwraps orignated in Sub-Sahara Africa?
Headwraps much like different hairstyles throughout Africa represent so much! In some cultures it is a sign of...
Traditional attire, marital status, tribal-group-or family connection, respect, cover-conceal, style, wealth, etc.
Lastly, I discovered this awesome video History of Headwraps. Check it out!
Serenity Headwrap: Untitled
Serenity Headwrap: #7
Serenity Headwrap: #6
Serenity Headwrap: #12
Serenity Headwrap: #11
Serenity Headwrap: #10
Serenity Headwrap: Untitled
Serenity Headwrap: Untitled
Serenity Headwrap: #4
Serenity Headwrap: #2
Serenity Headwrap: untitled
Serenity Headwrap: #8
Floral Arrangement Painting: WGBP
What does it mean to be in bloom?
It means having fully blossomed.
Most enjoy flowers and plants for their beauty. I personally enjoy the vibrant colors, shapes, and how the petals change overtime. I wanted my floral arrangement paintings to be still lives with three dimensional effects. The paintings are meant to serve as home/office decor. Traditionally we place flowers in a vase, but I like the idea of a piece that does not take up table space. These are permanent arrangement!
Floral Arrangement Painting: ROYT
IFloral Arrangement Painting: PG1A
Floral Arrangement Painting: YWRB
Each floral arrangement painting is on an 11"x14", made with acrylic paint and plastic flowers.
Queens & Sisters
The Queen series came to me back in 2019. I was working mainly with paint or charcoal, and I wanted to feel like a mixed media artist again! I decided to explore my home for some non-traditional materials. One item I have tons of is custome jewelry. As I was rummaging through my jewelry boxes, I came across two wooden earrings. I always loved the silhouette and engraved design, but they always came across too plain for me.
I removed the earring hooks, and immediately got inspired!
In the beginning stages of material exploration the cutouts felt very reminiscent of the silhouettes found in cameo jewelry.
Next I began to consider, what if she had a body? I immediately thought of nature...a woman walking through nature.
I love mixed media because working with a range of materials help me to think outside the box.
Fast-forward to June 2020 where I attempted to create more pieces. However, I was unable to find the same wooden cutouts I'd used previously. Fortunately, I came across another silhouette cutout! After unboxing my order of wood cutouts, I noticed they were significantly smaller...which would affect the design. I wanted to give up...I thought what can I do with such small pieces.
Lastly, I'm glad I didn't give up on using these wood pieces. If I did, I wouldn't have been able to make the piece titled-Sister: Girl Talk
After playing around with the wood cutouts for a few weeks. I imagined sisters engaging with one another in conversation-girl talk. I also reflected on the iconic scene in 'The Color Purple' (written by Alice Walker and produced by (Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall)) where Nettie and Celie were standing out in the field singing...
Did you know Makidada means little sister in Swahili!
"Me and you, us never part. Makidada. Me and you, us have one heart. Makidada. Ain't no ocean, ain't no sea. Makidada. Keep my sister away from me".
What I learned so far...Tips from my journey on pursuing a business.
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..."
-NLT Zechariah 4:10
I wanted to share my discoveries on pursuing a business. Not as an expert, but as someone sharing her journey. I've been on this journey for a little under two years. Along the way, there were so many things I wish I knew. So, I hope the information in this blog helps someone, that may be considering how to start.
1. Know your area of Expertise
What's your gift(s), skill(s), or passion(s)? Businesses range from products to services. My passion is transformation and learning through art, and my gift/skill is art-making. Whether you hone your expertise by studying and obtaining a degree or through consistent self-education and practice, know where your passion lies. What quality product or service can you offer? What makes you a trustworthy option for a consumer?
2. Do your Research
Once you've discovered your area of expertise, learn and conduct your own research. Research began for me, when I decided to sell my art at local pop up shops. I knew my work was quality, but the pop up shop taught me about an audience. In order to sell your product or service, you have to engage with the public. The more you can access peoples' eyes, attention, and interest, the greater your potential to gain a customer or client. Even if you do not sell a product or service in the moment, people will remember you. It's no different than passing by a shirt in a store window that catches your attention. You may or may not buy it at the moment, but you've taken a mental note of why you like the shirt, the store that sells it, the location of the store, and so on. Just by the store displaying/advertising the shirt in the window they will gain followers and potential customers. If you can do it once, the goal is to develop a sustainable plan to do it again and again. Steps I took in this phase, were (starting social media pages specifically for my business, taking notes on spending habits related to my services or products, printing business cards with my contact and social media info., participating in pop up shops/vending opportunities, finding and attending free workshops for small businesses or start ups, learning more about entrepreneurs doing what I desire to do)
3. Invest your Time and Money
I never understood the phrase, it takes money to make money. My response to that was always, "but what if you don't have money?" (insert crying laughing emoji here!). However, the statement is true, you will have to rethink how you spend your money. You may very well incur additional expenses in an effort to start a business, but you can still budget. If you can only allot a small amount to your business that's fine, just don't give up! Another way to put it is, refocus your funds. When I decided to start a website and online shop, I had to consider what was cost effective for me. Online shops and websites are like monthly subscriptions. Remember there are different packages, so if you have to start on the cheaper end...do so until you grow. I got to a point on my journey where I was nervous about investing money, but I had to look at what I currently spend money on. My online shop cost $10 a month. I spend that in less than five minutes ordering food. If I can spend that on a meal, why not refocus that money to my business...and skip the food order. I decide to only purchase what I deem a necessity for my business at the moment. Ask yourself, do I need to spend this right now? Will it help my business now or can it wait till I'm further along? I try to categorize my purchases. Examples of low cost purchases for me were business cards, fabric and lights for my vending tables, bulk order picture frames. Examples of more expensive purchases, I needed to make for more quality products at a given time were, oil paints, a digital camera, and photo-shop graphics editor.
4. Write the Vision
Some may call it a business plan, but to me it's ultimately your detailed vision. I was not able to fully express or articulate what my vision was at the very beginning. I also do not have a business degree, so I wasn't even privy to a business plan. I made this the third tip, because sometimes it takes a while to discover what you want or dream of. I also don't think this is something you can write all at once. I believe there are many drafts for a vision/business plan. There's your personal draft (you may keep as notes for yourself), public draft (you may post on your website, shop, or an article), and a draft for investors or the bank when pursuing a loan (the most formal version). I'm still at the personal-public phase of my vision/business plan. I recommend asking yourself some basic questions like (Why do you want to do this? What will you offer? What makes you unique? Who is your target audience/market? Is this a side business or your bread and butter? What are your short term and long term goals?). The formal version of this written document can be anywhere from 20-30 pages with information like (name of business, summary, monthly projections,what your business will look like now and in the future, your target market, design and development plan, operation and management plan, financial factors, etc.)
5. Develop your Product or Service
Developing your products and services are a constant. What you knew when you first released a product or service changes after reflecting. You may need to make changes to the materials, service type, contract, packaging, pricing, etc. I imagine that in order for a business to thrive you are constantly seeking to maintain what is working, and necessary improvements. There is your educated guess, the feedback from those around you, and the reviews from consumers/clients. Before and after releasing a new product or service get feedback from trusted sources or a focus group. Have them tell you what they notice. This is always an interesting discussion for me because, I'm already very strategic when creating art. Sometimes you may do something intentional, and people don't like it or they don't get it. In other instances, something is accidental and people have a positive response. Either way get the feedback in order to learn and grow! I sell art, but everyone in the world may not gravitate towards the art that I make. The goal should always be how can I offer the best of what I do to those that are interested. Additional options for gaining feedback are soft releases, launch parties, adding pole responses on social media, or asking for feedback from your followers.
6. Make it Official
Before Covid 19 hit New York, I was researching ways to have a business without a brick and mortar store front. Below is what I've learned...once again I'm no expert just sharing what I found.
Create an Online Shop or E-Commerce- Find the best option for you (shopify, etsy, bigcartel, amazon, ebay, facebook market place, etc.)
Create a Website- 1.Search for and purchase a domain name. Here is where I tried to consider the name of my business. Be sure the name is memorable and relates to your business. One thing I didn't realize wasn't the best, was including symbols like dashes...because it's hard for people to remember. I purchased my domain from godaddy, but there are also other domain registars like wix, shopify, bluehost, namecheap,etc. I learned that someone had the domain name I wanted, so I had to be creative. Keep in mind .com is not the only option there's (.net, .usa...) etc. 2.Design your website. You can do this your self, as there are templates, guides, classes,and resources available. I designed my website with wix, but there are also website builders like linktree, splashpage, godaddy etc. You can also pay someone else to do it.
Register your Business- 1.You will need to obtain a DBA "Doing Business As" or "Certificate of Assumed Name" Information for New York State
I learned that you have to locate this certificate at a store or online. You must get it yourself, which was really interesting and weird. I couldn't understand why the county clerk's office didn't just have the paper there. Anyway, below is the website that I purchased the certificate.
2. Next, you will need to fill out the certificate and take it to the county clerk's office. You must pay of course!
Open a Business Account with your Local Bank- You will need your certificate and tax ID number to open a business account.
In the future, I will have more parts to this blog where I share more information on my journey!
Make Room !
"A man's gift maketh room for him..."
KJV Proverbs 18:16
"A gift opens doors"
NRSV Proverbs 18:16
The image for this blog is special because it shows a corner of my living room, that houses my desk and art supplies. It took me a long time to allow my art supplies to spill into my living room, as it is the only location where there is space to create. I was once at a place in my life where I justified not creating my own art because I didn't have an art studio, room, or in my mind significant space to spread out. I spent sometime reflecting on my past and what led me to operating from a place of self-doubt for many years.
Rewind to two years ago, I was teaching art...most people knew this...but what they did not know was that I rarely made my own art. As many teachers will tell you it can be hard to do much of anything that doesn't revolve around lesson-curriculum planning, prep-daily instruction, and/or taking care of your basic necessities as a person. Deep down inside I always felt unsettled knowing that I was an art educator, but not a practicing artist. Of course I created here or there, but nothing consistent. Even though I had obtained degrees in art education, I hadn't fully explored what it meant for me to be and see myself as an artist.
Rewind back to my undergrad years, I took quite a bit of introductory courses (photography, printmaking, design, painting, sculpture, and drawing) along with a range of education courses. Picture me cap and gown diploma in hand...but no clarity on who I was as an artist.
What I wish I had back then was...
1. More exposure to artists that looked like me and came from a similar background...and there are many as I've discovered in more recent years. In school I learned about majority white male artists as the origins of art movements, styles, and techniques. While I was studying these people and practicing "their techniques", I didn't quite believe that me being just an artist was attainable. Hence, why I went the route of art education. I figured... Will my name and work be remembered? Will my pieces be in books and museums? Will I make a decent living? Many of the artists I learned about didn't get their flowers while they were alive, they obtain recognition in death...and many were starving artist while alive. So I always told myself and others that I never wanted to sell my art. I never wanted to be that type of artist.
2. I also wish I had more opportunities to explore themes that I was interested in. Once I graduated, I no longer had the consistency of my professors to provide parameters for my art and projects. I was so use to mimicking the techniques of other artists from art history or learning the basics. It never crossed my mind that I have creative freedom. I can decide what I make and how it looks?! I can mix materials?! I do not have to identify as one specific kind of artist?! I don't have to be an expert at drawing, painting, etc. ?! I can now leave the box that I was groomed in.
Today, I realize developing as an artist takes time and is in no way limited to schooling or time spent in studies. For many years, I was stuck thinking...I don't know what to make? I don't know if I have the skills. I didn't learn this or that. But truly I had it all wrong. Now I understand the scripture 'your gifts make room for you'. It's not what you don't have, it is what you do have. God can use exactly what you have. There are still many things I don't know how to do or things I want to learn...but in the mean time I'm going to keep using my gift. My gift is not meant for me to keep to myself, it was given for me to share with others.