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BLACK LIVES MATTER.
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WA RESIDENTS ONLY.
DEADLINE TO APPLY IS JULY 30.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Teens in Tacoma is an organization that values Black voices and experiences. We are co-organizing this event with Girls with a Vision, located in University Place. This protest is open to all and is for Tacoma. Please email us with any questions.
Teens in Tacoma is an organization that values Black voices and experiences. We are co-organizing this event with Girls with a Vision, located in University Place. This protest is open to all and is for Tacoma.
Flyer design by Micheal Anderson.
Charles Coffen, 16.
How did you start doing art?
I actually had zero experience before high school. Besides IDEA I had no shop making experience. So, really it started with IDEA and being encouraged to do things; to learn and to fail.
Describe your art-making process in three words.
Pinterest. Failing. Trying.
We were surprised that you do laser engraving because no ones ever done that, it’s mostly drawing and painting. Do you feel that that’s [engraving] is really unique and special to you?
Yeah, I started doing laser engraving…I do CNC work, which instead of a human cutting pieces of wood, it’s a robot doing it. And, I started learning how to do that because I was too afraid to use the table saw, and I didn’t want to lose a finger. Now, of course, I know how to use it. I started doing it because…no one else wanted to, no one else was doing it, so I do feel like it is unique to me. At least at my school, no one else is the laser engraving person. When someone needs something laser cut or engraved, or any of the CNC work it comes to me.
Would you like to have other areas of art? Like music or painting?
My sister did music, she went to Stadium and did Bassoon; got a full ride scholarship for it. So it was like.. that was already done. So I thought I’d do something else. It doesn’t really interest me. I’d like to get better at drawing.
What would you say is something that represents your art? What emotions affect your art?
Ingenuity, I guess would be it. My quote for myself is, “I like making things that make other people happy. ” I like making people happy. I like making people smile. So a lot of the stuff I make I give to other people, that’s why I don’t have a lot of it physically. Like, I made a laser engraving of Tacoma, a map of it, put it in the laser engraver, burned it onto two pieces of wood and gave it to my sister. I give a lot of stuff to my girlfriend. I give a lot of stuff to my family and our school and other people. I do the same with my friend. So I tend to give away things, I don’t tend to keep them
When you make art do you think, “Oh this is really great I want to keep it for myself” or are you specifically hoping to give pieces away?
I usually start by making things for myself, because I want to make it. Unless it’s a present specifically, I start by deciding, “Oh I wanna try this, I wanna try this new method of doing this. I wanna try this and see if it’s easier.” I don’t really think of the whole plan, like where it’s going to end up. It usually just ends up something else thinking it’s cool and me saying, “Oh do you want to have it? Keep it, go for it.” Or this is really cool, this means a lot to me, I’m going to keep it. Or, sometimes no one wants it. And, then I’ll keep it.
Would you say your school inspires your art or passes you by?
The school really inspires me. With IDEA, we only started three years ago, we’re brand new. I was actually our schools first ASB president. And, so being in our school and being in an area with people who also like doing this, people are really creatively charged and also want to try new things. And, they know what you’re talking about. If I say to someone at IDEA, “This COT laser blah blah blah,” just general jargon, they’ll know what I’m talking about. They’ll say, “Oh that’s super cool!” Or, “That’s kinda lame.” They’re very honest and they’re very supportive. I really like the culture and community thats at the school.
Go Follow Charles on Instagram @Charles_Coffen !
Michaella Amamilo, 18.
So where do you go to High School?
Steilacoom High School.
So how have you become an active member of the art community?
I’ve always been an artist my whole life. My dad used to be an architect too, so it’s always been a part of our family. I don’t know– I think I’ve always been creative when I was younger, but I do like a lot of arts and crafts things. I’ve never gotten into a strict discipline of art. It was only recently that I got into high school that I started focusing and really understanding what I do like about art. [And] which art history aspects I do like and I try to incorporate that into how I do art today.
What attracts you the most in terms of things, like art history?
I like a lot of antiquity and ancient Greek and Rome; all that stuff. I think I like the human form too and that’s also why I’d like to go into medicine. I just like to put everything together; [I like] little detail stuff and really realistic things. I like that it pays a lot of attention to really natural things and it doesn’t have to be something super crazy and abstract but can be really simple.
So with your piece that you put in our art show, would you say that it is an adequate representation of your art style?
I’d say it is a really good representation of where I’ve come because my art style is pretty realistic and very fine detail. But that is something so out of my element; like I used ink. And I normally just set things out and have a plan to what I want to do. But with that, I just went for it, and so I think it is a good representation of my growth as an artist.
Do you have a major theme in all your art pieces?
Well, that was part of a concentration. I’m in AP studio art and my concentration was, what it means to be masculine, and what it means to be a man. So I just focused on how people view men as having to be masculine or having to have a big family and take care of a family. I had also just watched this documentary about South Africa with my parents so I did that after. It honestly made me cry so I just wanted to make a couple pieces about that.
I’ve always been an artist my whole life.
What specifically moved you about the documentary?
I think it was just like, even in a really hard time, that people still come together and try to have a good time. They were in the middle of a hard time, especially with Nelson Mandela going to jail and their liberties and freedoms as human beings were just being suppressed. It was really unfair. I’m pretty moved by a lot of things like that but I don’t really voice it so that’s why I use art to portray how I feel about certain things.
Would you say that diversity in art is important?
I think it is really important. Personally, I don’t feel like anybody’s art is bad or anybody’s is a failure. You don’t really know who the person is or what they like or what inspires [them] to make art. If we didn’t have diversity in art then we wouldn’t be able to find people that we like or find inspiration. There are so many famous artists that I feel like people look up to but it’s not always going to be the same. That’s why we all don’t have the same art style. One artist isn’t the same as the other person; that’s because we have so much diversity. And I think it’s important to be yourself and to have your own style even if it is someone or someone else’s. There will always be something that you do differently or something someone else doesn’t do.
What media have you found yourself enjoying the most?
I generally use a lot of graphite and charcoal, which I got into recently. They’re both pretty easy for me because I’m pretty good at blending and it helps me use shadowing easier. I just got into colored pencils which are a lot harder; because I realized that it’s not just yellow with black over it for a shadow. It’s different shades of that same color. I have been challenging myself a lot with that, painting as well.
Are you involved in your school art community?
Well, there is an art club but I didn’t really know about it. I’ve been in my school district my whole life. but in my freshman year I went to a different school so when I came back I only took Art 1 because I didn’t really know any of the art curricula at the school and I took that my junior year. This year has been the first year that I have actually been able to take a real art class at the school, like I’m in AP Studio Art. I think that’s the art community I’m in and I’ve also been in the school’s art show twice.
Is your school good about making sure that art is available?
Yeah, they’re trying a lot to introduce a lot more media and different classes. It is kind of hard because my school does have a lot of athletics. But now that there are younger generations coming in actually wanting to do ceramics and AP Studio art and design, it is a lot easier to get the art department more recognition and more resources for what we want to do.
Have you experimented with any other kinds of art besides drawing and painting?
I’ve tried ceramics before and that was nice, I was pretty good at it. I’d love to work with sculpture I think that’d be pretty cool, especially making human bodies.
It seems like that would work with what you’re interested in.
I’m a very visual learner so it would work in a lot of ways.
You said that you wanted to go into medicine, right?
Yes, I want to be a surgeon.
Do you plan on incorporating art into your future?
Yeah, I was considering minoring in art because I don’t want it to just be a hobby or a passion and it has benefited me a lot after doing so many sports. It has been a different part of me and I have appreciated that and I want to keep doing that as I go to college to help me grow. I have seen so much growth in myself just in the last year from this class and I don’t feel like I want to stop now at all.
You said you don’t want it to be a hobby. Are you planning on being a doctor?
Yes, I am. But retirement-wise I will probably be an artist.
What are your favorite pieces that you have made so far?
I did this big piece called “The Pattern Within” but it took me a long time to go back to doing what I normally do, with like graphite. When I did this one it made me stop and actually make time to make something, make something that I normally do. With the blending and having to make time to focus on proportions it made me fall back in love with everything.
Do you think art is a major release for you, almost therapeutic?
Yes, and I think there are a lot of different ways to have therapy, at least for me. I am pretty busy and play a lot of sports and in the sports aspect it is more like, “I’ve had a hard day at school or month or week,” so I am just going to play sports and give it everything I’ve got. But with art, I can just relax and focus on what I’m doing with my hand. It is a lot easier to relax that way.
Since you have so many activities going on what else influences your life?
My house actually. My dad is from Nigeria and has painted the entire inside and has completely landscaped our entire backyard. So I think I take a lot of inspiration from my house and it inspires me a lot to go out and create. Of course, I spend a lot of time procrastinating and not wanting to do homework ever, so I love to just go and start drawing something. My friends also inspire me to go draw as well.
Your dad is an architect and a big portion of that is art, do you think he has imparted anything to you?
Yes, I think so. He used to live in Italy at a time and we have a library in our house full of law books because my mom is a lawyer. That has definitely helped me find a lot of different things that I’m interested in art-wise and what I want to create and what inspires me to create more. He is always there to tell me that there are so many things you’re capable of creating and so many things to create, so it is easy for me to be motivated by that.
Where else do you find your inspiration?
This seems so cliche because I normally don’t try to draw for meaning but I do the opposite just for the fact that I feel like so many people say, “I drew this because I was happy,” or, “I drew this because I was sad,” but I drew this because I wanted to. I try to draw and be like, you know what, I am just in that mood and sometimes I just draw after a long time of feeling a certain way like I just need to get it across. I have one of those pieces in the “Breadth” section of my portfolio for this year. It is a heart and something I did differently but I incorporated a lot of mind work on it and I wanted to experiment with that.
Do you have a message for any artists just starting out?
I think anybody can be an artist; that’s probably my biggest message. A lot of my friends feel really intimidated against me. That’s the first thing, to not compare yourself to other people because you don’t know how long they have been practicing and you don’t know what they struggle with. I’ve learned that this year because I don’t have a lot of time to make art but when I do, I sit down and get to it, while other people in my class, that’s all they do. So you can see the contrast and improvement and the skill that they have and the skill that you have. I think that you have to remember where you are and the time that you have and how much dedication you are willing to put for it. I don’t think people should overthink it that much. It is art and it is your art and whatever you produce is as good enough as it is going to be for you and that doesn’t mean it is bad for someone else. I think art is art and you can’t really have a bad opinion about it because you don’t know how they wanted to address the message in it.
Go follow this teen artist on Instagram @michaellaamamilo!
Bryce Ann Hartzell, 16.
So, are you a singer?
Yeah, mostly. I also produce and manage shows.
What bands or groups do you produce and manage shows for?
Mostly my own band; and currently I’m only managing one other group called Gemi. I have managed quite a few bands in the past, though.
What inspired you to get into music?
My uncle actually passed away, and he left me his most prized possession. It was his elevation guitar, and I felt like it was something I needed to learn, because you can’t put something that special into a closet somewhere.
Do you write your own songs?
I do: I’ve taken a few songwriting classes at SOTA and it’s helped me write my own songs but I started writing them when I was about 12 or 13.
What instruments do you play?
I play the guitar, piano, bass… I’m trying to learn the drums, and I play the ukulele, but, not often because it’s an instrument that not many people want to hear anymore.
What type of music are you in to, and what type do you play?
I’m actually into a lot of different genres of music; I like to listen to everything because I feel like you can pull inspiration from everything. I do prefer to listen to rap, indie, and slow stuff like that; and I mostly play indie or alternative rock.
Do you think it’s important to have role models?
I think people wouldn’t be able to shape themselves as authentically if they didn’t have role models. Role models play a big part in kids and teenagers finding who they want to be, and the qualities that they want to possess, along with their views about the world and their treatment of it. Role models also affect kids’ and teenagers’ self-worth and self-treatment.
Who have some of your role models been?
My mom is one of my biggest role models; I feel like a lot of people say that, but she’s just inspired me to be really strong because she’s had to be strong her whole life. But in terms of celebrities or famous people, I have some really strong feminist role models like Halsey, and even weirder people like Mac DeMarco just because a lot of them are carefree and they don’t really care what other people think. And they just do their own things.
Role models play a big part in kids and teenagers finding who they want to be, and the qualities that they want to possess, along with their views about the world and their treatment of it.
Where do you want to take your music?
The dream is to be famous one day; the dream is to be a pop star. Realistically though, I’m applying to music colleges in Europe and I think the route I’m wanting to go is making money off of touring and playing shows. I just want to be able to do what I love and live off of it and be happy with it; to just be happy with my life and my career.
What’s your favorite song that you wrote?
It’s a song that I put on SoundCloud; it’s called Trees. It’s basically like… okay, so I go to summer camp each summer and there’s this counselor there who has just shaped my life so incredibly over the last 4 years. And she has this little tattoo of a tree on her leg, just because she loves the outdoors, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I wrote her that song and it had trees in it and it was really fun and I liked it a lot.
What was the most challenging instrument to learn?
The guitar, because my hands don’t like to do 2 different things at once. I mean, piano does kind of do that but it’s more melodic in a sense because you can look down at it the whole time, while you can’t do that when you play the guitar usually, unless it’s classical. So, just learning how to do 2 different things at once is just really complicated for my brain.
Do you wish you were talented in any other way?
All the time, I mean, I go to an art school so I see all these fabulous people all the time. And even at school dances, I see all these dancers just going at it. And I just think, “I wish I could do that but I’m just not graceful,” or, “I wish I was better at drawing so I could have my art up somewhere.” I definitely wish that there was more than just music for me, but I’m also just really grateful that I even have music.
How has music affected your life?
I think it’s made me more independent. People who do music kind of have to do a lot of things for themselves. Like you have to book your own shows, so it’s made me not only independent, but it’s made me more able to talk to people and reach out and not be afraid of getting turned down because at least I tried. There’s always the possibility that you’ll get turned down, but there are all these opportunities if you don’t get turned down. And so, it’s made me kind of fearless in a way that’s just like, “this is me, and here I am.” If people don’t like it then that’s okay, but if they do, then I want to work with them and do something awesome.
What are you doing now in the art community?
Well, I recently booked a show with Realart, with a few different bands. One of them was actually from Arizona; they were touring and they came up here looking for a venue and I was like, “hey come to Realart, we have a show date already and you can hop in with some of us.” So I’m trying to book even more shows through Realart and other venues.
I actually volunteer at the YMCA, where I help out with things like Healthy Kids Day, where I basically just watch little kids play and do games with them.
Has working with the kids affected your music?
Yeah; kids are really inspiring just because they’re not afraid of failure. I actually have a little cousin and she falls down so much, but every time she falls, she gets right back up and she’s like “I’m fine,” and I just feel like that’s a metaphor for life. There are all these little kids that are so fearless and it makes me think that if they can do it then I can do it too.
Have any of your personal relationships affected your music? If so, how?
Yeah; I actually have an ex who I was in a band with, and when we broke up, the band basically broke up. And I think I’ve been a bit stupid in choosing to be in a band with my current partner, and it’s fine right now, but I’m always worried that, “if we break up then the band might break up?” Or, “will we be able to stick it out for the band?” But eventually that might go sideways, so my romantic relationships have definitely affected my music in really large ways just because of the decisions I’ve made. But also, breakups are really good for song inspiration [laughs].
What is your musical process?
A lot of crying, honestly, and a lot of self doubt. I’ll even write one line and think it’s not good enough, and then it’ll just spiral into me thinking that I’m not good enough and I’m not going to get anywhere. A lot of the times, it takes a few days to get yourself out of it and be like, “okay, you’re fine, keep writing.” The musical process for me is just really hard; it’s filled with a lot of anxiety around it about whether it will be good enough or what people will think. In the end, though, I just end up coming to terms with the fact that some people won’t like it. That’s how it’s always going to go. There are famous people who have people who don’t like their music. You just have to accept that and if you like it, that’s all that matters.
Do you make music for yourself or for others?
A little bit of both. Usually when I’m writing my music, it has a lot of meaning to me. There are lines that are seemingly not much to anybody else, but to me they mean a thousand words to the person I’m writing it to or the situation I’m writing about. So my music is a really good outlet for myself, but I definitely do consider what other people like and enjoy when I’m writing it. If I make a song too complicated or too simple, I feel like there will definitely be people who fall off the ends because they aren’t entertained or because there’s too much going on and they get too much in their head. I think you have to have that balance, to be a successful artist.
Do you have an ending statement for anyone who is afraid to spread their art?
The worst that can happen, is people won’t like it; but in all reality, that’s not even that bad. As long as your art makes you happy, that’s all that matters.
Go Check out Bryce’s social media on Instagram @bryceann.music and @bry.hartzell!
Ariyah Bunch, 17.
What are your main inspirations?
My mental illnesses are my main inspiration.
How is that translated in your work?
Things that I can’t express because I’m really bad at expressing emotions. I just try to paint it away. And it usually doesn’t come out the way I intend. It usually is really random and I just do it to do it.
Why did you sign up for our art show?
I never put myself out there. And I just moved here from L.A. So I was just curious to see what it would be like. And I honestly didn’t think I would get in. So when I got that email back I was like, ’wow, ok.’ I can do something.
Tell us about one of your works.
Discomfort. The ’Dis’ is in parentheses. It was inspired by my favorite movie, ”Carol.” It represents so many different things. Not only is it a fan-art thing. It’s also just-the colors. I picked greens, reds; yellows. Because her emotion was so confusing. I wanted to show that not everything is going to be easy. The reason it’s called discomfort, is because it was such a bittersweet moment in the film. The movement and the eyes, and the lines- crossed off like a barrier.
What was your inspiration with Lovers?
Like almost all my art I just start and it just goes from there. I don’t have a thing in mind ever, and I just start it. So that outcome was surprising because i didn’t expect it. Whatever, it made a lot of sense to do it that way. In the space I was in at the time. Romance is a really scary thing for everyone.
What is the benefit of sharing your art?
Their reactions obviously; their emotions toward it. I love seeing how other people feel about art. I feel so many things when I see a piece. I see my piece and it’s totally different from what someone else’s could be.
Where do you want your art to go?
I want to be a filmmaker. I really want to incorporate all of my paintings and stuff in film. My biggest thing is to spread more awareness about mental illness. My bipolar disorder takes over a lot of me, so I would like to show that people with intense problems can do it.
Tell me about a film you are making.
It’s a romance. A lesbian romance. There’s a lot of twists and turns in it. The main thing I want you to get out of it is self-love. The movie is about self-love and how that flips. The other huge thing is that I want to show a real lesbian romance. The ups and downs and intensities. Not the usual bland [stuff]. That along with self-love and realization. Especially because all lesbian movies end so terribly. It’s not all bad.
My biggest thing is to spread more awareness about mental illness.
Do you have an ending statement?
My main thing is mental illness. My panic disorder and my bipolar disorder completely take over my life most of the time. And my social phobias. Which is why things like this are so hard to do. So when I share my poetry or share my art it’s a weird experience. I want people with bipolar disorders to show themselves. It’s hard because of the fear of being judged. Especially with teens we are scared of people judging us. I want to put myself out there more. You aren’t what your brain tells you, you are. You are an artist and you are something beautiful. And I want people to know that.
Kai Wilks, 17.
Why do you make art?
I think I make art for myself as a form of stress relief. Also as a form of communicating with the people around me, when I can’t do it verbally.
Does it help to say things you can’t say normally?
Yeah, it helps me say things more succinctly. What I mean and what I say. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right?
Who do you make art for?
Mostly myself, but I do enjoy creating pieces for others. For special occasions or things like that.
Do you have statements or advice for your art program at your school?
Yeah! So our art program is ran entirely through donation by artists in the area. So essentially Chihuly keeps our art program running. We have a total of three art teachers and one of them is a glass blowing teacher. I took our illustration course last year but it was probably the least challenging art class I’ve ever taken. It was like- man! I feel like Wilson puts sports before anything else. Sports get funding before arts. Sports gets funding before classrooms do. So it’s really difficult to have resources and the supplies you need without getting them yourself.
-Why should there be an equivalence between sports and arts?
It should just be equal. In that, I understand there are less art-geared kids. But also, we’re using rose art in our art glasses. It hurts a little to say, ”I have to use that to make something.” And our art teachers buy a lot of our supplies out of their own money and stuff. It’s kind of rough looking at that because I think every other year our football team gets new uniforms. So, I’m a little salty, just a little [laughs].
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of it is from other artists. Not just visual though. A lot of inspiration that I have is from music because it’s such a large part of my life. And from the people in my life.
How much time do you spend thinking about creating something?
Oh, every moment of the day. It’s- there’s not a time, especially if I’m making something, there’s never a time where I’m like, ”I wish I wasn’t doing this right now.” I’m always in class and getting yelled at for doodling, and not working on the thing I was supposed to be working on. And I’m like, I wish I was at home, at my desk, so I can paint.
Why should we prioritize art the way we prioritize STEM?
The emphasis on STEM is that you can make money off of it, right? I think we need to get rid of the stigma that says you can’t make money doing art. Because there are millions of jobs that are available for artists and photographers and musicians. It’s not all about being put in a gallery. It’s also about improving your ability to work professionally and being able to create something that is a part of a larger piece.
-Should we consider money strongly in the future, for artists?
I dont think necessarily. I don’t think you should do art for the money. But acknowledge that you can make money doing it if you are dedicated.
I think we need to get rid of the stigma that says you can’t make money doing art.
Do you find any issues with Tacoma in their involvment in teen art?
I think we have plenty of organizations. I think it’s just difficult to get involved-right? It’s a lot of SOTA kids because they’re down here; across from the museum. I was lucky enough that my mom works here. She’s a register here. And she’s always worked in museums since I was really little. I’ve grown up with art and learned to appreciate it that way. But I think it’s difficult to become connected to art that way, right now.
Do you have an ending statement for yourself?
I think I just want to acknowledge that art is a super personal thing and that it’s difficult to please others with what you create. And even if you don’t make something that people enjoy, as long as you’re enjoying it, it’s worth it.
Alistair Shaw, 17.
What is art to you?
Not only is it an escape for me, and it is a room for me; it’s a creative outlet for me. But more than that, it is a thing where I am able to build an audience-base. A foundation where I would be able to have a larger range to spread my message. So, really it’s just a platform for me.
What messages are your common themes?
My overall message is just spreading self-awareness and individualism and highlighting creativity and celebrating that. And really trying to show people that, you know, your uniqueness is important and that you are special. And that every weird shit you do is amazing and it’s great.
Do you practice any other art forms?
Yeah, I sing. I do a lot of dance. It’s nothing like professional or anything but it’s just stuff that I enjoy. I do glass art at my school.
Why do you make art?
’Cause it’s one of the only things that I’m good at [laughs]. Yeah that’s pretty legit. No, it’s a very good creative outlet for me. Because someone like me-who enjoys their individualism and originality-I feel like art is a very good way for me to get all of my thoughts in to the real world. And actually seeing it go from my brain onto the canvas, or onto the paper or whatever [does that].
Do you envision a piece before it’s made?
Yeah, like I’ll start drawing something out and I’ll have different ideas here and there. And I’ll enjoy piec[ing] them together like, “what if I did this or that?” And thinking about the placement or color that I use. I envision it completely colored before I do anything.
What career are you hoping to head towards?
My goal is to do freelance art. To be able to do whatever I want and have people buy it. But I will probably get into some kind of graphic design or animation or illustration first. Then slowly work up a client base so I can eventually do freelance art.
Where do you find most of your inspiration?
I find it in a lot of different places. I find it in nature. I look to nature for a lot of my inspiration. I look to a lot of different cultures and traditions and different kinds of mythology and folklore that I can kind of piece together and make a whole piece out of all of that. I also look to different artists. Whether they’re on Instagram or, you know. Historical artists or friends. My friends that are artists, I gain inspiration from.
Do you want people to draw inspiration from your work or do you want to have them appreciate it?
I think that the art community should be more open to people drawing inspiration from their art. I don’t mind if people draw inspiration from my art. [Art] is inspiring – it’s something that they can be like, “oh I like their color concepts.” Or, “I like the placement of how they did this.” Not “I’m going to copy it and then change the colors,” ‘cause I’m inspired. Yeah, no I don’t appreciate that. But no, I think it’s a very good thing for other artists to draw inspiration from other people because that’s how you build up your style. Of course, even me I found a multitude of different artists that I love and I pieced it all together and now I have what I do. And so I feel like it’s very normal and I would be honored if someone liked my art enough to be like, “I’m going to do something similar to this.”
I look to a lot of different cultures and traditions and different kinds of mythology and folklore that I can kind of piece together and make a whole piece out of.
So with the art show [formerly displayed at TAM] we’ve been wondering- do you feel like your art is meant for you or the public?
I do my art completely for myself. I don’t do my art to please anyone or to impress anyone or to get any kind of recognition. I do what I do because I enjoy it and I like it. And I don’t care if other people don’t. Basically.
Why do you put your art out for the public eye?
Because I know my ultimate goal is freelance art so I have to start somewhere. Because I mean up until a few months ago, I didn’t even post any of my art anywhere. I was solely doing my art and keeping it to myself. But I know I have to get more comfortable with putting my art out there and getting whatever feedback I get. Because ultimately I want to start doing commissions and stuff like that, you know, trying to bring in that money [laughs]. So, I’m doing more to build up a base. Also, putting your art out there is a very good way to gain more self-confidence in your art. Like if you are not one-hundred percent sure if you are a good artist or not, and you get accepted to something like [TAM’s teen art show]- it’s a good confidence booster. Because I don’t think that I’m the best, but I know that I’m somewhat good. I know that I’m not complete ass, and so that’s good!
Describe the process of creating a piece of work in three words.
Do I know three words? I don’t know. Um, time-consuming… hey, that’s hyphenated. So time-consuming. Here I’ll talk about the process. If I’m making a complete painted piece, I do a lot of research before hand on the topic that I’m doing, or like the pieces that I’m using so that it makes a coherent thought. So it’s not just random things pulled together. So it’s something that actually makes sense. A lot of trying and testing things: different placement, different color, trying to make things as dynamic as possible. Especially with painting, it’s very much trial and error. It’s all a learning experience, each time.
Why is it important to immerse yourself in creative things when you’re young?
At least in my perspective it’s very important for young people and teens to immerse themselves in creative activities because of our school system. It’s very restrictive and it’s not very open to the arts. And they don’t take a focus on individualism or originality or doing anything with the creative side of your brain. So if you go out of your way to help balance that, I feel like you’re going to be better off in the long run.
If you had not found art, what would you be doing?
Uh, I’d be dead. I’d be six feet under.
How would you define being a teen artist?
Shitty. You heard me. No, but being a teenage artist, I mean, it can be… for myself it’s pretty good because, well, not to toot my own horn, but I kind of know what I’m doing. And it’s nice because the teenage art community – they’re either really pretentious or they’re open and really nice. So you get a mixed bag. Like the SOTA kids and uh, then everyone else! No, being a teenage artist is good if you know you’re going to be doing art as your career. But I mean other than that, it’s like, alright. Being a teenager is shitty, but being a teenage artist is… a little better? I don’t know, because you have the people who are like, “oh my gosh that’s amazing!” And you have the people that are like, “you’re going to fail, you are terrible.” And I’m like, “okay, cool!” So-yeah.
What is a teenager’s role in society?
To be the butt of every joke, ever. That’s how we roll. Okay, it kind of sucks because we are more self-aware than the generation before us was. Because we know how our generation is working; we know everything that’s going on, we know our purpose for things. We know why our generation thinks this and this way. But everyone else is like, “you guys are stupid, you guys know nothing,” and that’s not true. I feel like our generation is full of people who have big dreams. And it shows.
There’s usually that stigma that, if you’re becoming an artist, you’re going to fail.
Yeah, I feel like with everyone, there’s a stigma that they’re going to fail. Especially with visual artists and musicians; because with people who do theatre, they’re like, “oh yeah, you can do Broadway.” And with people that do dance, they’re like, “yeah you can do music videos,” but with a visual artist: what are you going to do? It’s completely based on yourself and your talent alone. There’s nothing else that’s going to help you; a pretty face isn’t going to help you, not in the art world. It’s not going to do anything! So I feel like there is an imbalance in the arts and how people view them and their success.
How can Tacoma improve in supporting teenage artists?
I think that so far, it’s doing pretty well. All of this going on-this focusing on teenage art-is very new. So I feel like Tacoma is on the right track to being inclusive and caring about our art. It’s only going to get better from here.
Serafina Hallie, 16.
How did you get into art?
I feel like I was just kind of raised into it. My parents… especially my mom, she’s been the person to be like, “if you are able to do something and you want to do it, then go for it.“ And I’ve always been someone to create anything that I can get my hands on. I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty. And just finding little things. Having conversations with people somehow about something in my hand-an outlet. It’s just something I’ve always loved getting in to.
What mediums do you use?
A lot. So I’m double majoring at SOTA in dance and illustration. So I do a lot of paintings and drawings- but I also make jewelry. And I really love modern dance. I work at hilltop artists so I do glass work. Torch work. Make beads. And yeah, that’s a lot of fun.
-What do you prefer?
I feel like with everything I do I’ve always had that same feeling I’ve always craved. Just being able to do the things I am always passionate about. And with each form of art that I do, I get a different feeling; so it’s hard to compare.
What type of art do you see as an actual career?
Definitely around visual arts. So… painting, or, I’m considering film- art- direction. Just because I’d be able to pick out how to make a film beautiful. And I’m not even into film. But just making the whole thing an experience that you get to perceive; experienc[ing] beauty. And just to play someone in an experience that’s so transparent. I want to be the person to bring them that feeling.
What has art done in your life?
Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally. It’s just kind of brought me to a place that I want to be in my life. Which is very much a relief and a privilege that I get to be able to be passionate. It means I have the resources to do so.
We saw you curated your own art show. What other events do you want to do?
Well, I’m always thinking of different events I want to host. I volunteer at all the sales at my work so I get to do customer service I guess, and talk about hilltop artists. I try to participate in SOTA events, but SOTA can get unorganized I guess [laughs]. But I am trying to plan some stuff for this summer. I think I want to host a little show because I think it’s really hard to get yourself out there as a young artist. This is why I love these interviews. But it is very much a time-consuming process. So I have ideas that I can hopefully put into action. Committing to things [is a part of the process].
What are some challenges you found on your artistic journey?
Well, I’ve lived in Tacoma my whole life and I always try to be somewhere that inspires me. I love Tacoma with all my heart, but being in one place my whole life has definitely challenged me just a little bit. Because I’m very much obsessed with traveling too. And I always want to be somewhere that inspires me. So being in the same spot… I feel like I know every corner in this city. That’s been a little challenging. Every artist has art blocks that [they] stumble into. I’m very much a person who finds something and can’t get over it. [I] Research and get invested in this thing… discover so much, and I move onto a different thing. So I usually can get through those, but it’s definitely hard to stay inspired sometimes just because I’m in one place.
“Some people write down their thoughts. Some people illustrate or dance. So I think it helps me to say things I wouldn’t say normally.”
Are these challenges portrayed as themes in your art?
No not really [laughs]. I mean my changes are much easier than other people’s challenges so I’d rather make art that’s portraying those. I also love creating art that’s scenery. I love painting places that I want to go to. I feel like creating something that represents where I want to be kind of brings me there. Or brings me closer to that place. And also letting the viewer’s mind go to that place where I presented it for them.
What’s the difference between looking at someone and drawing them?
Looking at someone’s face I can admire their features. But observing them to the point where I’m drawing or painting them, lets me build a relationship with their features. So I might get to know this person just by staring into their eyes and creating them with some other medium that’s not a three-dimensional human in front of me.
How do you know if a piece of work is done?
I mean I guess that’s luck when I figure that out. I think I make the mistake of continuing a piece so many times because I’m so excited to get into it and it turns into something else. Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done. But that says only a little bit because who knows? I could go in tomorrow, and say that, ‘ah I need to change that.’ It’s whenever I look at it and decide its message is complete and clear-but that could change.
Why is it relevant for teens to get involved in their community?
I think when anyone is able to bring awareness or bring someone nostalgia, that’s an amazing thing. And if anyone has the ability to do that, that’s a very special thing. Especially teenagers, I feel like our generation is seen as the narcissistic, smartphone generation. And bringing passion into other people’s lives, and being able to have that passion inside of you is a very important thing to bring into the community around us.
“Whether it’s a simplistic piece or a complex piece, when it’s come to the point where I can look at it and where it’s accomplished what I want all my art pieces to accomplish then I know it’s done.”
What should teenagers do right now to build a network?
Don’t be afraid of taking action with your ideas. The reason I had an art show, was because I had no way of getting my art out there. So if you have an idea, take action with it. It can be difficult, but there are so many other kids with your same position. Do what you want. If you are organized enough, passionate enough, you will be able to do something so great. Do what you want to do, and so much more progress will be made.
Go Follow Serafina on Instagram @diglycerides
Don’t forget to come to Teen Night, April 21st, 7-10 PM.