Interview: Brittany Harris, Black Beauty, and Making Art Prints That Reflect & Uplift
Brittany Harris’ art prints celebrate heritage, culture, and identity with bold colors & iconic glimpses. Her inspiration is about creating an appropriate, real, and joyous reflection, where art uses its platform to celebrate – and we couldn’t be more supportive of that. Creating opportunities for art to suggest affirmative and uplifting ways of thinking about ourselves and our communities is something we steadfastly stand behind at IPaintMyMind, so connecting with Brittany Harris has been a lot of fun.
Ahead we learn more from this artist, educator, and advocate about her practice, her tools, her vision, and her uncanny ability to create images that engage & reflect while giving her an outlet to express the reality that that Black is beautiful.
Evan: Where are you from and how do you tend to describe your work?
Brittany Harris: My name is Brittany Harris. I’m a digital artist from Chicago. I would describe my work as bold, Black, and rich in color. My art mostly features Black women because I wanted to create something just for us.
Tell us about your most recent print release. I love it.
I wanted to try something new so I created some interior design inspiration. I’m always looking for new ways to engage people with my art and I felt that merging my love for interior design was a great way to do that. Not only does it show my versatility, it promotes my existing art by showing how you can display it in your home.
How long have you been making work like the prints currently on your website?
The classic “Afro Girl” print on my site is the very first design I created during Black History Month 2017. I wanted to create something that celebrated Black women and that’s what I came up with. To my surprise, people loved it! Unfortunately, back then I didn’t take my craft seriously so I took a long break until recently. This year, I decided to take a leap of faith and to see what would happen if I consistently posted my art. I made a series of designs for Black History Month and they got so much positive feedback. That’s when I realized that art is something I can eventually do full-time.
Tell us about the process of creating one of your finished works. People are always super interested in how it all comes together.
I feel like the most challenging part for me is figuring out what I’m going to draw. I’m constantly searching for inspiration everywhere including blogs, books, museums, television, and Pinterest. I usually start with a general outline then add details and color last. Once I get focused on a design it’s very difficult for me to walk away, so it’s rare that I take more than a day to finish a personal design.
I always talk about inspiring creative moments that get us thinking about ourselves and the world in different ways. What art experiences, concerts, museums, films, have inspired you?
I just watched Beyonce’s Homecoming Coachella performance yesterday – how can you not be inspired after that? As a former HBCU student (Howard University), it recharged my desire to demonstrate Black excellence in everything I do. It reminded me that the work I do is not just about me, but also about uplifting and inspiring other young Black people to use their gifts to transform our communities.
Is art your full-time thing or side hustle? If it’s not your full-time thing, do you want it to be?
Even though I have a full-time job outside of my art I wouldn’t consider it a side hustle because I work just as hard at it (if not more) than my 9-5. During the day I do communications and public policy work for a nonprofit based in Chicago. I set a goal for myself to transition to a full-time freelancer within the next year. I love the freedom and flexibility of working for myself. I also enjoy connecting with new people through my art. I feel like having a full-time job takes away from the time I could be spending honing my craft, so I”m definitely looking forward to the day I don’t have to do that anymore.
As a creative person, did you ever have reservations about sharing your work with others?
Absolutely. I experience this almost every time I create something new. I consider my artwork an extension of me, it’s very personal, and because of that I often want to protect it from the outside world. When you put a lot of time and effort into something you want others to appreciate it as much as you, but the reality is that won’t always happen and you have to learn to put it out there anyway.
How long have you made prints of your work available?
I launched my website March 1, 2019. That’s when all my prints became available.
Congrats! Do you ever draw on iPad or tablet?
Yes, I do and I love it! Lately I’ve been using Illustrator for most of my designs, but I think I’m about to transition back to using an iPad. To me an iPad gives you a lot more creative freedom and makes it easier to do small details.
Name a few artists you love.
Kerry James Marshall, Solomon Adufah @ solomonadufah, Petra Eriksson – @petraerikssonstudio .
If you have a life motto, what is it?’
My life motto is “Be Eclectic” I realized some time ago that I am so multifaceted and in order to fully live out my purpose I have to embrace all the different gifts and passions God gave me.
Not only am I an artist, I’m also an educator and advocate. I believe that my purpose in life is not just to create, but to pass down my wisdom and skills to Black youth so that they can live healthy lives and create their own opportunities.
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