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Photo by Janine Robinson on Unsplash

Blacktober: A Celebration of Black Artists Everywhere

The month of October was once again, a lot for many of us. Debates, civil unrest, the pandemic persists, etc. Yet despite everything going on a constant bright light for the month was Blacktober. A movement created for and by Black artists to create and share work from all disciplines of art.

From cosplay to 3D renders, Black creatives shared their take on designs, characters, and art that from all mediums. The message is to express overwhelming that Black characters belong anywhere and everywhere as well. The month was a love letter and celebration on the range of our Blackness. For we too are beautiful, worthy of being stars, and works of art.

To that end, I had the honor to speak with three artists whom shared amazing pieces for the month. Each artist has has had art pieces go viral on social media. More importantly however they all have different perspectives and outlooks on the art profession for artists. The following is an interview with Jvzmina, RenderGoddess, and JSwayArt

Jeffrey Rousseau (JR): What inspired you to become a professional artist? How long have you been professionally active?

Jvzmina: Well I’ve been drawing my entire life. I don’t think there was ever a conscious effort to start drawing; it’s just been as natural to me as breathing. In 2017, I ran into some hiccups when I started traveling with my job, and realized it was harder for me to haul around art supplies. That’s when I took up digital art, the BEST decision I’ve ever made. Once I taught myself the ins and outs of the program, I really started to explore the digital art world and all it had to offer. These last 3 years have been a journey.

JR: Your Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus piece is beautiful and so well received. What inspired the creation of this piece?

Jvzmina: When I created the Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus piece, it just so happened to be International Lesbian Day, and “Magical Girl” day for #blacktober ! It kind of fell into place and I figured why not? I didn’t expect it to be such a hit, but I loved the idea of re-creating such an iconic queer couple in a way that commemorates the original design, and let’s other black people see themselves in their favorite characters.

JR: Did this month inspire the future of how you’d like to approach your in work or creative process in anyway?

Jvzmina: Oh, this challenge has brought out the best in so many artists! I’ll forever be grateful to the organizers for amplifying SO much talent from Black creators. Being that I was predominantly a portrait artist before the challenge, I was definitely skeptical about stepping out the box and exploring different styles. This challenge has given me more confidence to do just that, and really be open to all creative possibilities. I feel like I can do anything now.

JR: Any particular advice you’d like to share with other Black artists? And or words of encouragement?

Jvzmina: Just keep going. Really. Just keep going. We get so caught up in being the “perfect” this or the “best” that, that we forget to appreciate our art for what it is right now. Loving your art is a journey, but the ride is so worth it. Forget the haters (because they’re always gonna be there) and create whatever you want, whenever you want!

In this day and age where we’re fighting for our voices to be heard, it’s important to amplify the Black creators who play an integral part in our society as well. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s been creating for years, please know that your art is valued and your art will ALWAYS matter.

You can follow Jvzmina on twitter and also support her via her art store.

JR: What inspired you to pursue art? How long have you been professionally active?

RenderGoddess (RG):What inspired me to pursue art were video games. The fact that video games brings such a wide range of characters, concepts, stories and environments is the driving force. I’ve been professionally active for 12 years.

JR: You are a big advocate for crediting artists and doing properly. As you have mentioned it’s theft and stolen attention/opportunity. Is there other factors to this that the us non artists need to be more aware of?

RG: Just be considerate. Just because it’s not your art doesn’t make it okay, something to brush off or thinking just because it’s the internet, it’s fair game. There’s a lot of folks making a living off of their art and a simple credit could bring in more customers for them. And even if not, still take two seconds and credit the artist. It’s not rocket science, and us artists don’t care about your “aesthetic”. Just credit us.

JR: During this month an art of yours was retweeted by actor Yahya Abdul-Matten II. How did that feel? To see he too appreciates your work?

RG: It was super dope that he retweeted me. I immediately showed my boyfriend because I couldn’t believe it. I actually had to do a double take first and I was like “Waaaaait…I know this isn’t..IT IS!”

JR: For any artists whom also specialize in renders like yourself. Do you have any words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share? If they find themselves at a creative roadblock?

RG: Please don’t burn yourself out too bad. Working with renders can get time and energy consuming, and sometimes you just wanna bang your head into a glass wall until your eyeballs bleed. If you find yourself hitting a roadblock, go relax your mind for as long as you need to. Don’t feel like you need a rush a thing.

You can follow RenderGoddess on Twitter and support her via her art store.

JR: What inspired you to become an artist? How long have you been professionally active?

JSwayArt: Well, I’ve always wanted to become an artist. As a kid I was always drawing , from watching tv, playing video games, or reading comics, it gave me the fuel of inspiration to create. What motivated me more to pursue it as a career , is the lack of Black artists in the illustration and comic fields. I really wanted to step into this field to show there are ppl like me who can do amazing things. It’s weird with the mess of this year, but I finally started my professional career!

JR: Your pieces for both Jill and Claire were very well received online and honestly great. What inspired you to reimagine these Resident Evil heroines?

JSwayArt: Resident Evil is one of my favorite franchises, next to Silent Hill (1–4 only ! Do not know the others). It is a franchise I’ve adored and been a big fan of as a kid. The idea of doing this rendition was not planned at all, it came at a sudden moment. I really thought about how there is a lack of Black women as badass leading characters in video games, especially in horror type genres. It annoyed me to the point where it deliberately made me go “F**k it, let me shake the table a bit”.

JR: Did the energy of the month have an particular positive effect or influence on you (and or your work) that you didn’t expect?

JSwayArt: The reactions to my Jill and Claire renditions were very heartwarming, and very positive, i was generally happy to see people love the rendition and go “ I’m inspired!” and “ I want this Claire to be canon!” I was overwhelmed and I did my part in shaking the table bit because there were a few that had issues with this redesign and even issues with this whole art challenge for Black artists.

This challenge was a way to give us a voice for our art and give us a platform where there are so few to little Black characters in the majority of the entertainment we enjoy. Seeing the many Black artists do these redesigns of these iconic characters we grew up to was very much inspiring and made me want to be a part of this challenge with my community.

JR: Any words of encouragement and or advice for Black artists whom find themselves not progressing in their respective careers/journey?

JSwayArt: Create what you love, create what shows your voice, and yes do take risks but, don’t let anyone silence you. In times of right now which is hard, fuel that energy to create greater work because in the end you will strive.

You may follow JSwayArt on twitter and support him via his art store too.

Thank you to these wonderful artists and the countless many that shared their talents during the month. They really made logging into social media despite what we have going on a treat. They helped remind me that we are Black, beautiful, and deserve to be seen as well.

Written by

I bat for PoCs, marginalized, equality, inclusion & geekdom. I'm warming the bench until coach subs me in.

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