Teen Interview #5

Giovanni Monarrez, 17

What school do you go to?

I go to Tacoma School of the Arts.

Do you feel like you have more privilege in the arts by going to Sota?

Oh yeah definitely, that’s why my senior project is to help other students at different high schools that aren’t in SOTA, Sami, or Idea. It’s because I want to help them get the benefits that I’ve experienced all four years. I want to help them experience the art community the way I’ve experienced the art community. And to be able to get their name out there, when I already had a foot in the door as soon as I got accepted into SOTA.

Do you feel like you are more inspired at Sota?

The school doesn’t inspire me, but it is the people there. The people I viewed last year were also illustrators, and I got to see how they drew and what inspired them; seeing their style really inspired me to want to go further. And this year since they graduated, there has not been barely any illustrators whatsoever. I feel like I have been a rut recently so I’ve been trying to find more people to give me that inspiration. Like what to do.

What can you always go back to, that inspires you?

Honestly, I want to say anime. I started drawing pictures of it. I’ve always liked anime so sometimes when I’m bored I’d always go back to drawing that. And there’s Naruto, and doing different styles and whatnot. I love the logo of the 90s. I like how blocky it was; clothes being blocked. It just looks nice. It’s something I put in my work. A lot of my friends tell me my art looks like 90s anime. Stuff like that. I like to do that. Especially how I draw my clothes.


What mediums do you involve yourself in?

I involve myself in traditional illustration, such as graphite and pen, and whatnot. But I’m really into doing marker stuff, like a colored marker. Recently I’m trying to figure out how to blend marker together and whatnot. And I love watercolors; I love it but I hate it. I love coloring in blocks, but once it comes to layering on top of each other and going from light to dark, instead of dark to light it really throws me off. So,  I’m still trying to figure that out. Acrylic occasionally, I go with acrylic because of how fast it dries. I hate the long waiting of painting. Acrylic is one of my favorites to go with because you can go from dark to light right away.

Where do you want your art to go?

Dang man, I want it to go everywhere. I was talking to Daniel about it, I’m trying to get into Cornish right now like I want to go there so bad because it is basically like Sota. But so much more it feels like a place where I can really improve on what I want to do. I want to be able to make a living off my artwork. I want to be able to support myself by selling my art either through prints, shirtmaking, stickers. Either me selling my art to companies as logos, doing commissions for other people. I just want to be drawing, I just want to create something for people to see and to use. In the long run, I want to inspire others the way others inspired me because a lot of my art is a combination of other peoples art. I see something that they do and I try to implement it into my style, but not like stealing. Either the way the strokes look in the drawing, how jagged their lines are, or how sharp they are. And so one day I hope people look at my stuff and are able to say “I want to do what they’re doing, let me add that to my own style.”

“I love the logo of the 90s. I like how blocky it was; clothes being blocked. It just looks nice. It’s something I put in my work.”

What is your favorite piece so far?

It’s this piece I made when I was actually a freshman. So the reason why I’d pick that one is that when I applied to Cornish, you have to make a portfolio you know, so  I had to look through my big pieces and all of my sketchbooks from freshman year till now. So when I was a little 14-year old I was a little, a little sad boy. Like I was really emotional. And a lot of that affected my art at the time. So as a freshman I had just moved to Tacoma from Hawaii, I lived in Hawaii since I was 6 until I was 13. It was a complete change for me and 8th grade was such a crazy time over here, the big shift. I actually didn’t want to go to Sota, because it was hard for me to make friends here, I didn’t want to make new friends at a new school. But once I got in I was like I’ll deal with it and make friends.


I wanted to capture the feeling and emotion of that time. Pretty much sad boy vibes. I’m here in a place I’m not used to, I’m just kinda stuck.

How does your culture influence your art?

I don’t think my culture.Well, I’m Mexican, and I don’t think it really is implemented in my drawing that much. Id say the only way it is, is because I like the way Cholos are dressed so I draw them a lot. And my middle name is Aztlan. I use it for my Instagram. It’s the name of where the Aztecs came from and I’d say that’s the only place where my culture is implemented into my art. That name is branded on what I draw. The reason why I drew it like that, was because I was thinking of certain types of artist’s brush in Mexico. The way they use the stroke from thin to thick. The colors they use. The whole aspect of that. I was really entranced by it.

What is your favorite artistic event you’ve gone to in Tacoma?

I’d say Teen night, the first one, the first Teen night, because I was actually hired by TAM. I was a portrait artist. That was the first time I was ever paid for my art, and it was the first time I did what I wanted to do. It was also my first paycheck I ever got. It was in November, of 2016. It was great because I was able to draw people and I was making buttons and I remember one of the guys was mad at me because he didn’t want to make my buttons. Phylicia ended up making them for me.That was great. They were inappropriate so I guess it makes sense.

What demographic comes to mind when you think of art museums?

I think of families. A lot of families go to art museums, little kids, and their parents, or people going on dates, old people. I think a variety. But I don’t think about teenagers that much. Teens only go to it if they’re into the art. And if they are doing something that involves art. The majority is families with little kids  I feel like little kids appreciate those things the most out of everyone else.

How do you think Tacoma could benefit from the voices of teens?

I feel like with this generation we are a lot more open-minded than previous generations. We are all pretty casual people, honestly, either casual or super intense, but that’s a good mix.I think, a good yin-yang, super casual and super hyped people. I feel Tacoma would really benefit from seeing the different aspects of everyone, a more unified community but also a very diverse one. I feel they are already doing that in some senses but it would be much more if they listened to what kids had to say. If they allow us to show what we can do instead of just seeing us as just teenagers. If there were more Teen Night type events, more stuff like that where teens can come together. Like hey perform for us, and show us what you can do with drawing; draw people if you want, all this and that. I feel Tacoma can benefit from that,  Like-minded people with a good sense of heart. I feel like it would draw more likeminded people with a good sense of heart to the city. It [Teen Night] was cool too, while I was drawing at TAM I met some people and they followed me and I followed them. Like I said, it‘s a good place where people can connect with each other, and still be diverse in the same way.

Follow Giovanni on Instagram @_aztlan_

Also, check out Tacoma Art Museum’s F.O.A.M & Teen Night two great events for teens!

Teen Interview #4

Zach Norris, 17 

What instrument do you mainly play, and why did it initially interest you?

I play guitar. I think it interests me because my dad played guitar when he was younger, and that’s the main kind of music I listened to. It’s our music in a sense, and it just seemed cool to do. I’ve never really known anything better, I guess.

At what age did you start showing an interest in music, and did you ever stop this progression?

I started to play guitar in second grade, but [the general interest] was probably way younger than that. My parents have stories where I would sing all the time, as a very small child, so probably the majority of my life. I took a lot of breaks. It happens a lot less now. There was a lot of reaching a point progression, then it gets too hard and you give up.

When did you know that music was something more meaningful to you? 

Probably my sophomore year; that’s when it clicked. That’s when I started writing songs. I had been playing songs in a band for a while but I hadn’t sat down to write a song. It all started to click, you realize that you can filter emotions.

What message does your band try to convey?

I’ve gone through a couple phases. At this point, I’ve played in a lot of bands that have different messages. I’ve played in a band called Slog, where the message is resistance, fighting outer issues within yourself. My solo projects  varies.

What’s the difference in being an independent musician, from being a member of a band?

Like I said with my band Slog, the writing process is collaborative. You don’t just sit down and write a punk song by yourself, everyone’s working together. It’s angry music, so we tend to get mad all the time. But then I think when I’m playing my own music, and I’m just in my room, writing by myself, I can do whatever the hell I want. [I can] change things, add things, right there. I think having that outlet of individual work is always a good thing to have.

“My sophomore year; that’s when it clicked. That’s when I started writing songs. I had been playing songs in a band for a while but I hadn’t sat down to write a song. It all started to click, you realize that you can filter emotions.”

What music do you listen to?

All, I’ve never had boundaries. I like what I like. Little pieces of everything.

Describe the moments when you feel especially inspired. 

Probably when I’m listening to other music. I go to school downtown so if I’m walking downtown, music is all I’m thinking about. If an idea pops up, I’m always like, “I have to do that right now.”

What events or programs do you wish you had in Tacoma to showcase your music? 

More places to play,  because I can record all the music I want. Musicians are lacking, especially in places to play; places that are accessible to other people. There’s not a ton of all-ages venues. Coffee shops are hard to put on a show. 

Would you say Tacoma represents young artists well?

I think it does better with young artists compared to Seattle, definitely. Everyone’s more equal here in terms of age. Everyone moves with each other. I think it definitely does a better job than other places.

Check out his music on SoundCloud, and go check out other songs!

Teen Interview #2

Michael Anderson, 15.

Meet Michael, he has joined our team as Co-Founder.

What school do you go to?

Bellarmine Preparatory High School.

Describe your most favorite piece.

I really like my self-portrait. That one was really fun. It’s a close-up of my face. I feel the size helps create an uncomfortable feeling which I wanted the viewer to feel. It took like a solid day and a half, in the fall. And I was like, I have these crayons, and I want to use them. There were like thirty-two colors I think, and I used almost all of them. I used the warm tones for the highlights, and cool tones for the shadows and that was kinda cool because I’ve never done those things before.

What mediums do you work with frequently? Do you hope to use more?

I use pencils a lot. Just because they are really easy to access and it’s really nice to just erase because you’re not going to fuck up all the time. And I want to use crayons more because I like the way it feels. And you can do a lot more physical stuff. And like get really in to it. But with pencils, you must be really detailed, and it’s kind of like charcoal, but it’s like colored charcoal and it’s not soft pastels, because you can rub out pastels more. So, it’s not permanent, and it’s softer feeling than pencils, and that’s why I like them.

When did you start creating art?

I started about two years ago. I started in May of my 8th-grade year. I started doing that because I’ve always liked art because I thought everyone just really loved art as much as I did, so I thought that was a normal thing. So, I was like what’s special about it? Then I was like shit bro, this is something, so I did it for a while. Since everyone was doing it for a long time, I was like yikes. I have to be speedy fast, and so I started drawing like every day and started to catch other people.

What’s been the message that’s been most constant in your work?

An overall theme that I follow is seeing where a medium takes me and seeing what bits and bobs of me are expressed. Because I’m only 15, and I don’t know my life. But through art, I figure it out. You know people are like ‘oh art is about expressing myself,’ but I can’t do that if I don’t know what to express. And so I kind of make stuff randomly and look and realize that a part of me is there.

TAM has done many themes on issues that most museums wouldn’t touch. What other art would you like to see curated?

So. As an Asian American, there’s rarely… if you look up Asian art you’ll see anime and cartoons, but I want to see fine art and them changing the game. But that doesn’t really exist, and it’s just like Asian Americans are erased… a lot in society. They’re also not in the art world prominently. Also like, my culture is a big thing to me, and I want to see more Asian American artists. And growing up it was kind of weird not seeing a lot of role models because everyone was white, and when I was starting to do art, I was like, “Can an Asian American/mixed person even be an artist? And a lot of Asian Americans are erased from society and was just kinda like shit bro what am I getting into?

“Because I’m only 15, I don’t know my life. But through art, I figure it out.”

Where in Tacoma, would you say is the most inspirational, in terms of fueling art?

Downtown Tacoma and Pacific Ave. And 6th Ave. The avenues of my life.  They are cool because you see a ton of art with the graffiti and stickers and the people. And it’s like that’s all really influential because you’ll just see people and I’ll have my sketchbook out and I’ll just take sketches of that. And that’s just really fun, because a little piece of Tacoma and a little piece of me create something.

What demographic, or description do you think of, when you think of people who visit art museums?

Old white women. They like museums.

Lastly, how can Tacoma help young artists circulate their own art into the art scene?

Art competitions would be fun. Not necessarily competitions but something that you put your time into, and somehow, it’s shown off. Also, it’s just like, I know for me it’s constantly hard for me to think of ideas, and there needs to be a backing for it. So, a prompt would be cool. Also, it’d be fun to have more art shows in Tacoma, internships, more opportunities, for teens. I know a lot of things are focused towards adults that already are established. If someone just organized a teen art mural, that would be fun. Just to show off someone’s work. For me, my art was just sitting in my closet, and I would love for other people to see. Even though I make art for myself, I want to share my thoughts and messages.

Follow Michael’s instagrams @m.p.anderson & @themichaelanderson


Teen Interview #1

Kate Burney, 16.

What High School do you go to?

I go to Curtis High School.

How has it inspired or not inspired you?

The theatre department is very prevalent and celebrated, so there is an opportunity for me to go into what I love.

What mediums/art do you involve yourself in?

Theatre, vocal, and painting with acrylics.

Do you feel that teens are represented in Tacoma based on the art scene here?

I wouldn’t. It depends on where you look because it’s not widely advertised.

What demographic comes to mind when you think of people who visit art museums?

Typically people with free time, and typically people who dress nice.

What opportunities do you wish you had to showcase your art?

Maybe like, it’s provided I’m just not involved with it, but like musical review and open mic stuff is cool. At TAM maybe if there was an opportunity where you could put your art on display.

Aside from actual artists, are there artists in music, or film that have inspired you as well?

Audrey Hepburn, for sure, and Zendaya for using their platforms to do humanities work.

Tacoma Art Museum has done many themes in exhibitions, such as immigration, or race; what specific theme would you like to see?
Maybe like influential figures in pop culture over time.

Where do you go to feel inspired in Tacoma? If you have a place that is.

I don’t leave my house very much but when I do, probably TAM and I think just driving through Tacoma is pretty inspirational ‘cause of all the art.

Why is it important that Tacoma welcomes a new voice that may be outside of their regular demographic?

To expand our culture because I think it’s important to that we represent the demographic that’s in Tacoma and if we are silencing anybody or not listening to anybody then we aren’t an accurate representation.

Follow Kate’s instagram here @kateburney

Listen to Kate more here! 

Welcome to Teens in Tacoma!

Welcome to Teens in Tacoma! Teens in Tacoma is an organization that hopes to reveal the artistic potential of teenagers in Tacoma while extending expression to artists who are not expressed in a holistic way. Teenagers are not always highlighted or included in artistic projects, or viewings. With this blog being made, we hope to build connections with teen artists, extend networks, change the perception of an art museum’s audience, and to inspire others to build ideas for Tacoma. Check out our widgets on the side to explore more!