Tell us who you are and what you do!
I am Banana Peppers, well that is my art alias. I am a visual and performing artist. I sing, dance and create artwork. Since I was 7, dance has been a large part of my life. I went on to compete and perform in many places across the East coast . I won the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Eastern Region Title of the Miss Black and Gold Pageant as well as Miss Talent, in Portsmouth Virginia. I have also choreographed routines that I created for the dance concert at my alma mater, St. John’s University. I am currently in the dance company, Capitol Movement. The same goes for my journey as a vocalist. I was introduced to music and vocal training at a young age and I have continued to develop those skills. I also write songs and perform with different musicians.
Lastly, I am a visual artist. Self taught and still learning. I am fascinated by creating and making mixed media art pieces that go from just an idea in my head to a tangible work of art. Right now I am very focused on building my portfolio and sharing my artwork to those who are open to viewing it. I have had the opportunity to showcase my art in dance studios, at music festivals as well as my own solo exhibit for my 25th birthday. I am passionate about creating and sharing my work with the hopes of inspiring and uplifting others.
WHY? Choreographed by Brianna Pippens
What is the inspiration for your work?
I am inspired by my blackness and all that entails from my hair to my complexion to the societal issues that weigh heavy on my mind and heart. I am also inspired by the rich and diverse cultures that make up this world. I think being proud of who I am and what that entails inspires me to look at others with an open mind, heart and artistic eye. My friends and family also play a large part in the inspiration for my artwork as well as the experiences I have had with people. I am very inspired by music and those that I consider to be phenoms and geniuses that have pushed things to the limit as far as innovation goes. I am also inspired by the unknown and the unfathomable. For me that includes clouds, stars, nebulae and spirituality.
As far as mediums, I love working with watercolor, acrylic paints, ink and digital illustration tools. My artwork ranges in form but I usually have my signature line work that I try to include in each piece when I can. My style is not very technical, it is more so based on how I feel, sometimes a painting starts with one thing in mind and ends up being something totally different than what I had planned. I love the use of colors, specifically blues, purples and yellows and I try to consistently create pieces that I can clearly see my imprint on even if it is a portrait of someone else. I have been developing my portfolio to reflect a cohesive scope of my work and the different mediums I explore.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
Just go for it! Don’t let fear stand in the way of opportunities that are out there for you. Hone your craft and be a force to be reckoned with. I have let fear and negative thinking get in the way of me going for opportunities in my life, so I encourage all artists no matter what genre or age to go for it! It’s never too late to commit to your passions.
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner?
The main obstacle I have faced is being discouraged about not being a full time artist and having to maintain my day job. I have to stay motivated after coming home from work, to focus on my artwork and many passions. Also, it is easy to compare your situation to those who are very successful. You think that you aren’t going to succeed, but maintain a positive and determined attitude. This is the challenge that I take on each day because I know that God has blessed me with a gift that I can continue to pursue as long as it is genuine.
I have also faced the obstacle of pricing my work. I started creating drawings and paintings for friends, family and just for the sheer love of it. When it comes to selling my work I am always torn with how to place a dollar value on what I would do regardless if someone was willing to pay for it or not. I’m always so grateful when people buy my pieces, but I am always told I don’t charge enough, so I am working on being able to be business minded when it comes to creating artwork.