With all the protests going on, it can seem really hard to picture how you, as an individual, can help to dismantle the systemic racism in this country. Although we all should be having difficult conversations, marching, and donating, as I talked about in my previous post, there’s a lot of changes we can make in our everyday lives that can contribute to breaking down the more covert side effects of racism.
A Brooklyn-based retailer, Aurora James, has introduced the idea of the 15% pledge, where they are calling for major retailers to vow to dedicate 15% of their shelves to Black-owned businesses. Although 15% is the proportion of our population that is Black, their representation on major store shelves is only 3%. This initiative should hopefully create some positive movement towards a more inclusive retail atmosphere that can uplift Black-owned brands.
So while big businesses will (hopefully) be doing the work to reflect on their own business decisions, you can also make an impact by being intentional about where your money goes and supporting Black-owned businesses. Especially small businesses.
Although there are SO many amazing Black-owned businesses in every industry that definitely don’t get the spotlight they deserve, I figured it would be most relevant for y’all, the readers of my design blog, to share some of my favorite Black artists that I’ve come across.
I’ve intentionally chosen mainly smaller artists, because small businesses especially need a little extra love during this bullshit pandemic. So check ’em out, and if you love them, show your support by buying some pieces or at least sharing their work on social media!
I came across this artist randomly on Twitter and when I tell you I was astounded by the talent. They’re all so interesting, surreal, and calming. I love her mixing of illustration, photography, and textures. Her work is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I’m about to give her all my money.
I feel a special connection to Atlanta artists since I live here. And there just also happens to be a ton of talented artists in the area. This is one of my favorites.
I’m a sucker for digital illustration work, and I tend to generally prefer it over other mediums like photography, collage, paint, etc. So her work was an immediate hit with me.
At the time of writing this, her store is on a temporary hiatus (one week), so I unfortunately can’t share any links to purchase her work. But make sure to follow her on social media and check back on sheisthis.com to make a purchase when it’s possible!
So I know that I just said I prefer digital illustration over everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have love and appreciation for all mediums. One of my favorite photographers I’ve come across is Oghalé Alex.
Although I don’t think I can necessarily classify him as a small artist, since he has almost 26,000 followers on Instagram and is the whole Director of Photography for Cold Laundry, I still wanted to highlight his work.
I love how his photos are incredibly powerful but incredibly soothing at the same time. The soft pastel tones and intimate body language are really the defining themes of his work to me.
He does have one print available for purchase, but according to his website, he has more on the way! You can sign up to be notified when more are available here. And you can also follow him on Instagram.
I discovered Alexis Eke on Instagram and was quickly drawn to the insane detail in her illustrations. She has a lot of commonalities between her pieces, and you can definitely tell that everything she does is uniquely hers, but what I really love is the range of everything she does. Some are more realistic, some are very graphic, others have almost like a comic book look to them.
She also has a cool backstory about the common themes in her work, too. You can read more about it on her About page here.
She doesn’t have a Shop tab on her website, but you can reach out about prints through the email on her site here. But I’ve also noticed that she’s constantly updating her link on Instagram with pieces for sale.
So clearly I also have a thing for art that features humans in it. I’ll admit that I gravitate towards that. But I’m gonna switch it up here and feature someone who largely does more abstract, surrealist scenes.
It gives me some slight Pink Floyd vibes, but a little more crisp and vibrant.
He’s posting stuff on his Instagram all the time, so feel free to follow him there. Or take a peak around his website to learn a little more about his background. And if you’re sold and are ready to give him your dollars, his prints are available here.
There are so many more amazing artists out there, but I’ll keep it at just 5 for today. If you know of a Black artist that you’re obsessed with and need people to support them, please drop them in the comments below or comment them on my post on Instagram! I’d be more than happy to check them out myself and to continue to share them.
These were just some of my favorite artists, but please check out some other blogs’ lists below of other great Black artists, Black-owned companies, and funds to donate to that help Black creatives.
other black artists + businesses to support
Starting at page 13, this Google Doc gives tons of recommendations for artists and businesses to support (but I would recommend reading the beginning part, too, about how to support the BLM movement in general)
I hope you’ve gotten a shit ton of inspiration to spread the love with the follows and shares and hopefully to buy some awesome pieces to furnish your home!
keep it homey, homies