Arts and Culture
Illustration, Animation, and Concept Art
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: Art for me originally had been a way to de-stress after a long day. Fundamentals never seemed important to me until I found out I could express myself in a myriad of different ways. Different colors and art subjects found their way onto my sketchbook pages. I found solace within the creative space I created for myself as well as a sense of purpose that I carried into my life to this day.
Illustration, Digital Work, and Prints
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: Art has been a way for me to express myself with more than just words. I've always wanted to see more people that looked like me in gorgeous artwork, so I set out to do it myself. I use it to express how powerful, expressive, and beautiful we are, in many shades and sizes. I want other people to look at my art and see us in the flattering light of more than just our pain.
Q: Do you have any comments about the Black Lives Matter movement?
A: I feel like the most important thing the world needs to take from this is not to let it die down. Until things change, drastically change, then we need to remember that our work is not done. Black lives matter, Black businesses matter. Not just when it's on the news. Always.
Illustration, Comic Work, and Animation
Their Future (2020)
Black Lives Matter started in 2013, putting a name to my generation's Civil Rights Movement, but all of this has been in the making long before I was even a thought. My experience today was built off of the Black men and women who stood up for their rights and for the thought of a better future for the children who would come after, like me. Now I believe it's my turn to fight for the children of tomorrow so they can have a better future, just as my grandfather and mother fought for me. My grandfather and I talked about the Civil Rights movement and Black Lives Matter and one thing he said to me really stuck: "Be grateful for what you have, but know you deserve more."
LOOK! Don't Touch. (2019)
My hair, the curls, the kinks, the frizz, it all is apart of me and I love it for that. However, when meeting folk who are unfamiliar with it, many have the instinct to just reach out and touch it. This piece simply depicts my feelings on that.
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: From a young age, I was enamored with art. From animations to music, to dancing in the dewy grass then running to the driveway to decorate it in chalk. Art is just the best way to share your lense. Many artists create entire worlds just to escape and watching these ideas become reality through art, I was in awe. Now I want to do just as those artists did and share the worlds inside my imagination.
Q: Do you have any comments on the Black Lives Matter movement?
A: I have been following BLM since 2013, I was only about twelve or thirteen at the time, but when it started there was a wave felt through my community. To this day I am still amazed at how far this movement is reaching, the meaning behind it, and how many people rally behind it. Just as BLM grows and develops, I grow along with it. Let our voices be heard and let them be known, help in any way you can to amplify the voices of the minority, not just Black voices, but all who have been silenced.
Amber Swanson is a 20 year old, Black-multiracial self-taught Digital Artist who creates under the artist name of Nootchi. We will now be referring to her by her artistic name.
Nootchi began drawing at the age of 8 years old, and switched to digital art at the age of 14. Her journey through art as a black artist hasn't been easy. When she did attempt to take art classes with her family at an art store, her mother wanted to be able to do a portrait for the class. They were told by the caucasian instructor, "I can't teach you how to draw people like you," referring to black people, "just as I wouldn't expect you to know how to draw, well, people like me." In reference to Caucasians. Despite the fact that Nootchi did know how to draw Caucasians due to the lack of black influences in most media growing up.
Unbeknownst to Nootchi at the time, this was just one of the many issues of artists in the Art Industry.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Nootchi began gaining some traction and a following after volunteering her art, along with various other Black Artists for a monetized YouTube Video. This allowed people without the ability to personally donate to Black Lives Matter charities, to have the ability to donate through watching ads on that video as all proceeds went to charity.
There was an explosion of activism in the Art Industry followed by a bunch of hashtags gaining traction and popularity. Although there was a unified realization amongst the black community that it was actually Performative Activism as popular industries and influencers online took to the hashtags, making it nothing other than a trend to be popular for a short time, then dropped at the flip of a hat. Promises of job opportunities were made for black artists, but then were not followed through by these companies in the end. Black artists were expected to take up these brief chances of opportunity whilst Black Lives Matter was still trending and the artists were still attempting to recover from their traumas following the loss of so many in their community. Each day, a new loss, a new name, a new JusticeFor hashtag.
In conclusion, Black Lives STILL Matter. Black voices have raised in unison and have been joined by others to be heard. These lives and voices are NOT a trend to use for the convenience of others, they are NOT going anywhere, and they can no longer be silenced.
Here are a selection of Nootchi's favorite pieces, as well as a link to her social medias:
What does art mean to you?
Art is simply my tool for expression. From a young age, I've admired the way artists can capture emotion, heritage and culture into different pieces and I have wanted to strive to do this too, whilst adding my own twist. Coming from a coloured background, it had always been hard to find pieces of art that I could say "that looks like me", so from my instagram page I am continuously trying to ensure that I create illustrations of powerful females that all are unique and represent different people in our society!
Do you have any comments on BLM?
All I want to continue to ensure is that it NEVER ends. This has become so empowering to see how far the movement has grown and now it can only extend that, feeding more knowledge to those who want to listen and support more within the community. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
A brilliant thought-provoking podcast by the New York Times' culture writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris.