Happy Black History Month! As a white person, I’m aware of the privilege I have–especially as someone who runs a newspaper. So, I want to highlight a few of my favorite Black artists. These artists have impacted me throughout the years and inspired me. Without them, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today. All the artists I mention I originally found through YouTube though they are on many other forms of social media.
The first artist I want to highlight is Denzel, who is known as CurrieGOAT on most social media platforms. I have been following him on YouTube since August 2020. The first video of his that I ever watched was called “How to make a punch needle rug *my full creative process*”. During this time I wanted to get into punch needling. Rug making was very popular so of course I had to try it. If you don’t know what a punch needle is, it is a tool that looks like a thick needle that you thread yarn through and then punch through canvas, going back and forth much like a sewing machine. Using the punch needle you can make elaborate designs, and with the thickness of the yarn it lends itself to rug making. When I was searching, I stumbled upon Denzel’s video and was amazed by how he took his digital art and transferred it to this media I was unfamiliar with. At the time I could not have created a design as elaborate as his three headed dog, for example. The way he broke down all his steps made it feel so accessible. I didn’t end up making some cool rug, but in another video he made a coffee table and from that I ended up making my own table. Denzel continues to make rugs and digital art, as well as design and alter apparel. He has even been commissioned to make shoes.
The next artist is Cornella, who is known as LikelihoodArt on social media platforms. I have been following her since November 2020. I really enjoy watching speedpaint videos and hers are another form of speedpaint except they are categorized as “draw with me” videos. In these types of videos the artist is drawing in real time, or close to real time, so it’s almost like you’re having a sit-down drawing session with them. I usually put them on while I’m working on an art project or doing the dishes. In the first video I watched, she was drawing a group of cute girls drinking boba tea. She primarily does digital art using Procreate on her iPad. She works a lot with portraits and has worked really hard to include many body types and learn how to shade and highlight many different skin tones. I make the majority of my art on my iPad using the same digital art program, and learning the techniques she uses has helped me better understand Procreate and my own art practice. She mostly draws people of color, and I have enjoyed learning from how she depicts different hair types using color, shape and texture. On her YouTube channel she has done a variety of product reviews or just tried out something new that she wishes to share. She continues to almost exclusively draw portraits and original characters that she has created and brought to life.
The final artist I am going to talk about is Minnie Small. Minnie has a special place in my heart. I have been watching her videos since March of 2017, so I’ve been able to watch her grow as I have grown into the adult I am today. As someone who has wanted to be an independent or freelance artist for quite some time, it was so exciting to watch her videos. She would touch on tips and tricks for being a freelance artist. She would go into details about printing your own prints at home and how complicated it can be given all the different types of paper and print settings. It is surprising how much goes into this sort of work that you don’t really think about. I watched how she makes her stickers, pausing and replaying the videos many times. I even subscribe to her on Patreon to get all the nitty gritty details. If you don’t know what Patreon is, it is an online platform where you pay money to subscribe to creators to get behind the scenes content. Some tiers include items like prints or stickers that you get in return for supporting that artist. I even decided to get my own cutting machine and try making my own stickers. It can be hard work and Minnie shows that in her videos. She might mess up quite a few times on one design before she might get it right. She shares so much on social media that it goes far beyond art. She shares bits of her life with her partner Ozzy and their cat. After spending all this time it feels like I know her. Even though I’m sure she keeps most of her life private, it’s still so cool to see who she is. In her art practice she uses gouache, watercolor and digital work on her iPad. My favorite project of hers is the little house paintings that she compiled into small books where the pages were almost the same size as the actual paintings to show how small they really were.
These are just a few Black artists who I enjoy and am incredibly grateful to be able to interact with and share parts of their life with. Their creative processes and artwork has inspired and helped me grow as an artist. I hope they continue to grow and share their work on the internet. May they inspire many others as they have inspired me.