The moment I met Tae I could sense his great aura - energy tells no lies. We went to the beach with a few friends and by the car ride back home, it felt like I’d known him for ages. We connected via social media and it wasn't until then that I learned he was an artist. My mind was blown as I scrolled through his Instagram feed - he was actually talented! Extremely talented! I was immediately fascinated. The emotion and fluidity throughout his work was refreshing.
Little did I know, we’d collaborate a few years later. I reached out to Tae to create my blog logo with no clue what to do design-wise. I’m also too controlling to trust just anybody, so I was beyond excited once he agreed! My project was finally taking form. I let him preview my blog and after much positive feedback, he delivered! Tae on making the logo: “First and foremost, I’ve done logos for years and up until recently, I realized I hate doing them. So I stopped. When I was asked by Bri, I was actually really into making them. I love Bri who has always had such a regal aura, yet carefree spirit. I wanted to create a very feminine logo that was soft but strong, just like her.”
The logo was everything I didn’t know I needed. It even helped finalize my color-scheme, so I knew I had to pick his brain once my blog launched. Check out our interview below and be sure to connect with Tae via social media to follow his journey!
BRIANA: How long have you been an artist? What’s the first thing you remember making?
TAE: Hmm. I’ve been drawing my entire life but didn’t start really introducing myself as an artist until a few years ago. I don’t really remember too much of what I was making, but I do remember drawing under my mom’s kitchen table a lot when I was 5.
BRIANA: Tell us more about what you create.
TAE: Majority of my art are oil paintings and a few installations here and there. My favorite medium is definitely oil paint, but as of late I’ve been more inclined to add other mediums, such as acrylic, oil pastel, and glitter.
BRIANA: Have you always known how to draw well?
TAE: Yes, I always tell everyone it’s always been one of the only things I’ve ever been good at and what my family has always encouraged me to continue.
BRIANA: When did you publicly release your first work of art and why that specific one?
TAE: I released stuff throughout middle school and high school for art classes I was in, but the first piece I showcased professionally was in 2015 at the Atlanta University Center’s Art Competition. I actually won first place and was so surprised being that I never debuted work to the general public. The painting is called “Ybg(Young, black and disgusted)” which was my first oil painting ever. There was a lot of civil unrest at the time and many black men were being gunned down by police officers. So the piece.. was kinda like a representation of how I, as a young black man, felt in American Society.
BRIANA: What is your method for creating? Inspo/ambience/mindset/steps of execution/average timeframe/necessities/quirks?
TAE: I pull inspiration from literally anythingggg! Dreams, music, fashion, death, trials and triumphs, conversations, nature, religion, friends, family - I mean anything. I’m not sure I actually have a say in what inspires me. I usually don’t choose it. It kinda chooses me.
My paintings usually start off as a blurred vision in my head. From there, I decide the scale I want to use for the vision and kinda just go from there. The time it takes for me to complete my painting varies. Some have deadlines, some I just binge on for hours and can finish within days, and then there’s my favorites; the ones that takes months because I either lost motivation or inspiration during it's process. They are my hardest pieces to complete but usually hold the most meaning for me, because it’s a reflection of my mindset and what I was going through during it's duration. Quirks? Oh, I literally cannot paint on a full stomach or when my studio has just gotten too messy.
BRIANA: What do you feel makes you authentic? What makes you different?
TAE: I feel what makes me authentic is my honesty and vulnerability...well, so I’ve heard. I can be very private but will answer any question phrased respectfully. I’m also not afraid to admit my feelings. I’m very emotional and intuitive. This probably sounds cliche but I think what truly makes me different is my life story.. what I’ve been through and how I try to use what has held me down to eventually lift me higher.
BRIANA: I'm with you on the private thing, but will also open up if asked something properly. How would you describe your aesthetic?
TAE: Hmm..It’s kinda hard for me to process my own aesthetic, so I’ll just say what people tell me. (hahaa) But no, yea. My aesthetic is definitely a combination of everything I’m into. I love piercings, silver, safety pins, vampires, neon, black, rave wear, and any clothing I think looks futuristic..but I’ve also been told I give a little early 2000s. Which I love because that time period of fashion was so obnoxious, like me. (ha!)
BRIANA: Describe your personal style using 3 words.
TAE: Vampire. Baggy. Lusty.
BRIANA: You don’t seem to fear the dark side of things, why do you think that is?
TAE: Because I actually do. I’ve learned so much truth can come from the dark side of things. Hence why most people stay clear from the dark side and I’m like, 'hey, I want to know the truth. I want to feel fear and triumph over it. I want to become one with it and use it as my power.' The dark side is truth and actually, pretty invigorating. Also, my parents would pretty much watch only horror films and crime investigative shows when I was a young kid and my stepdad is a mortician with a very “deadly” sense of humor.
BRIANA: LOL I love it! Getting to know your dark side is very powerful and the only way to control it vs. it controlling you. Is there a specific theme or element that’s consistent throughout your work?
TAE: The idea of separation and wholeness. The figure’s body parts I paint are slightly separate but in totality are whole. I also love painting figures with androgynous features. I play with the idea of sexuality and regalness. I love painting people, I always have, especially nude people.. I like to create bodies that are “cyborgy” and strong in presence.
BRIANA: What do you find most fulfilling about being an artist? Does your network consist mainly of other creatives?
TAE: Honestly, the most fulfilling thing is seeing this once blurred vision actually manifest and when other people like my art! Probably one of the only times I experience legit joy. My network doesn’t mainly consist of other creatives, but I do have a few creatives around me that definitely inspire me and push me to keep going and I hope I do the same for them. A lot of other artists on the internet have also showed me so much love. Omg, they mean so much to me because some have never met me but connect with me deeply through my art.
BRIANA: That's wonderful but no shocking, your work is powerful. Do you have any role models/idols?
TAE: Oh hell yes, many of my role models/idols are fictional characters; the vampires Lestat and Buffy, Neo (from the matrix), and Fray (Post-Apocalyptic vampire slayer comic series) are like my top fictional idols.
To know me is to know that I idolize Aaliyah. I’m a huge Aaliyah fan. I love Missy and Timbaland. Missy’s songwriting and the intricate production of Timbo just bring me so much life. I paint to a lot of their tunes. I also love Rihanna, Salvador Dali, Robert Mapplethorpe, Tricky (recording producer), Bjork, Thierry Mugler, Dennis Rodman, and Will Smith.
BRIANA: You practically just summed up my early childhood. Who are your biggest supporters & how have they shaped who you are today?
TAE: Definitely my family and friends. I read somewhere that having a supportive family is really critical in a creative’s life and I’m honored to have always been encouraged and uplifted by my family and friends to always create art.
BRIANA: How do you feel about others telling artists how/what to create? (pet peeve of mine lol)
TAE: It’s so counterproductive and pessimistic. I think every artist is put here to create from their own experiences. If you want to create whatever it is you’re telling an artist to create, do it yourself.
BRIANA: Tell us one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your journey.
TAE: I wish I knew that artists can have successful careers and actually make money from their art while still living.
BRIANA: Where does your completed artwork go?
TAE: At the moment (well until I get my money up and can afford an actual website) it all just goes on my social media accounts. Lately, I’ve been kinda only releasing pieces in art shows. I’m kinda over releasing art on the internet at the moment because it takes away from experiencing the piece in person.
BRIANA: What does your bright future hold?
TAE: I’m not sure. Hopefully good things are in store. I pray for longevity and passion. I just want to travel around having art shows and creating at my full capacity. I want to get into fashion design, release music, and work with other creatives.
BRIANA: I have a feeling good things are in store. I'm claiming it. What do you hope your legacy will be and where do you want your art to go when you leave this Earth?
TAE: I just really want to inspire the next black kid growing up that they too can be themselves. That we don’t have to fit into molds. We can take charge of our story and it’s divine individuality. That’s all I want...to encourage people to be who they are and not be ashamed of their kinks. I don’t care where my art goes as long as my babies are safe and somewhere they can still be viewed.
Enjoy photos of his captivating artwork below <3