Artist Feature Magazine | Jul+Aug 2020 [Issue No.01]

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JUL+AUG 2020 l ISSUE No. 01


ABOUT US The I AM ART Campaign is a movement of Empowerment, Support, and Appreciation; Acknowledging artists of any form to demonstrate and represent the power of a creatively diverse community.

OUR MISSION To empower the next generation of artists by providing platforms for both the youth and aspiring artists to think creatively outside the box; Presenting different creative mindsets and journeys of artists in the industry in hopes of sparking inspiration to jumpstart their beliefs to pursuing their artistic expression.

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JUL+AUG 2020

ISSUE No. 01

PUBLISHER / EDITOR IN CHIEF ARTavius Veasey CONTRIBUTORS Julia Sick Shane “ChicoFit” Huggins Angela Velasquez Claire Voon Toonky Berry Abigail Warren MarQuan “Quan The Poet” Nesbitt Nakia “Kinfolk” Kia Shine Eso Tolson Shawn “ShawnQT” Anderson ARTist Feature Magazine is a digital bi-monthly creative lifestyle and empowerment publication; With an objective to featuring diverse creatives and mindsets of industry artists to help express the power of authenticity in self-expression.


Hey guys!


SURPRISE! The I AM ,ART Campaign has branched out and now have a magazine! We’ve been holding back this secret for a few , weeks now and so happy to f inally show you guys all the work weve been doing behind the scenes. In this Magazine, as some of you may be familiar with the title ARTist Feature, it was our interview column on the website. We,ve gotten so many interviews and mindset tips from industry artists over the years that we decided to comprise a magazine so we could bring even more great interviews, content, creative mindsets, and empowerment specif ically for our creative lifestyles. , so excited to feature and highlight more amazing artists, giving Were them a platform to share their creative journies in hopes of inspiring you all as we continue to push our mission to Empower the Next Generation of Artists. Take Care and Enjoy the f irst issue,

Find us on Social Media @iamartcampaign ARTist Feature Magazine reserves the right to edit all materials for clarity, space availability, and suitability for publication. ARTist Feature must give permission for any material contained herein to be reproduced in any manner. Any advertisements published in ARTist Feature Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or product.


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SURPRISE: 03 Magazine Introduction


26 31 43


LETS EAT: 05 Quality Food Time in a Pandemic BODY GOALS: 11 SUMMER READY with ChicoFit


INTERVIEW: 10-Year Old KIDpreneur Lyla Scrulock


FACE MASK: The New Fashion Trend?




THE ART OF PROTESTING: What’s Really going on?




ISSUE No. 02


BLACK CONTENT CREATIVES We will be shinning light on some of the most deserving Black creatives in the industry. Sharing their talents with us and some of the biggest lessons they’ve learned on their journey. WANT TO BE FEATURED? Email us your stories, ads or ideas to:


BORED IN THE HOUSE: 5 Artists on creating new artwork during Quarantine


Model: ARTavius Veasey


Photographer: Dewayne Murrell


Photo taken Downtown Memphis, TN at City Hall where many Black Lives Matter protestors marked in response to recent police brutality.


SPOKEN WORD: Black Death 29 COFFEE WITH KINFOLK: Inspiration for your situation 31 LETTER ART: Black Men Smile 33 ILLUSTRATION: Defund the Police 35 MERCHANDISE: BLM Shirts 36

Buy Item

More on website

AM I REALLY SUPERMAN: Creative Director by day & Zumba Instructor by night

INTERVIEW: Dreion 43 RAINBOW PRIDE: Tennessee’s First Rainbow Crosswalk 49

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while in a PANDEMIC by Julia Sick

Illustration by Mirror Al


Staying at home for an extended period of time can be difficult, and healthy eating can be extra challenging due to the more relaxed “weekend atmosphere”. But worry not, because the Edulia team are here to share TIPS on how to make quality food time whilst in quarantine.

Edulia responds to the urgent need of the EU society to find new ways to tackle the escalating issue of obesity, through promoting healthier eating from childhood, within the context of choice. Based on the relations between sensory perception, pleasure, food choice and food behavior, the project will look for new approaches to drive children to like and actively choose healthy foods, developing healthier dietary habits. Edulia is a multi-disciplinary and inter-sectorial European Training and Research Network with a global reach.


Try to keep your diet varied each meal Try to keep a varied diet and don’t forget to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. It can be difficult to keep up a healthy and balanced diet in these times, but you have a lot done if you focus on fruit and vegetables.

Choose fruits and vegetables that last longer When it is not possible to frequently go to the supermarket, it may be challenging to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

. Fruits and vegetables that last longer in the

fridge include: apples, carrots, celery, cucumber, cabbage, broccoli, salad, zucchini.

. Fruits and vegetables that can be stored out of the fridge include: beets, squash, tomatoes, po- tatoes, avocado, bananas, onions, pears, lemons and oranges.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are good alternatives Frozen fruits and vegetables have been found to contain similar and sometimes even more nutrients than fresh produce. They are a good choice as they can be stored longer, and may also be cheaper.

Plan your meals Planning meals can help you to cut costs and avoid food waste.


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Eat fruits and vegetables and contribute a healthy and balanced diet


Make healthy snacking attractive

When we are bored at home, it is tempting to mindlessly snack on foods. We may struggle to choose healthy snacks, especially for children who find unhealthy options more appealing. However, encouraging our children to choose healthier snacks may be easier than it looks. Here are some tips to help you:

Make healthy snacks available and easily accessible Your child will be more likely to eat healthy snacks if these snacks are easy to reach and to consume. Keep healthy snacks in children’s eyesight, like in a fruit basket on the dining table. Also, you can cut healthy snacks in pieces so that it is ready and easy to eat.

CUt healthy snacks into funny shapes 07

Did you know that children are likely to eat more visually appealing fruit compared to regular fruit? For example, you can cut vegetables in funny shapes.


Combine different fruits or vegetables Serving a variety of fruits or vegetables rather than providing a single fruit or vegetable may increase the intake of your child. For example, you can combine different fruits in a bowl so that your child is able to choose from multiple types of fruit and select their preferred ones.


Cook and eat together

Normally, our busy lifestyle can make family meals a challenge. But we can take advantage of the current situation and make time to eat together, and even cook together. Research has shown that more frequent family meals are associated with many benefits for the child, like a decreased risk of obesity, a higher intake of healthy food, better linguistic and academic performance and improved well-being. Involvement in cooking activities can increase children’s food acceptance and improve their diet quality. Through cooking, knowledge about ingredients is built, fine-motor skills are trained, and the senses are sharpened.

Model healthy and positive eating behavior at the table Set a good example. Children are more likely to eat and try foods when they see their parents eat and enjoy the same foods.

. Focus on enjoying each other’s company, not on what or how much each child is eating. . Encourage children to talk about their day,

this helps to develop more communication between family members.

. Turn off distractions like the TV, computer, tablets and phones during mealtimes.

Brainstorm for the meals of the week The current situation might bring the need to plan your meals in advance. Brainstorm meals of the week together using post its and have a family voting to make meal planning more engaging.

Do a Creative Cooking session with your family

. Set a theme for the menu to increase the collaborative energy. . Define a Kitchen Captain for each meal. . Create your own names for dishes. . Personalize meals according to the preferences of each family member. . Be curious and explore the reasons and methods for different cooking steps.


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Make healthy snacks available and easily accessible


Play with your food, for young and old

It’s perhaps counter intuitive to what we were taught as children, but recent research has demonstrated that encouraging children to play and interact with food actually increases their willingness to taste. Playing with our food encourages children, not solely to learn about what’s on their plate, but also to taste different foods. There are many creative ways to interact with food, but here are just a few suggestions.


Create artistic stamp pictures

Create and eat it!

For younger children, or children who are very reluctant to try fruits and vegetables, begin with an art activity to get them exploring feared foods in a fun and ‘safe’ way. Use chopped vegetables with different textures to make artistic stamp pictures,

Most children love animals. Why not have a go at creating different animals with the products you have in the fridge, like fruits and vegetables, then eat them together after. Involving children in artistic plating of food has been shown to improve mood and that visually appealing food can increase the intake of new foods.



Learn about your food

Learning about nutrition and other aspects of food is an important part of education. Here are different tips on how to educate children about food from home:

Explore other tools

. Teach young children about foods and a varied diet with fun online materials, . “Vegetable Maths Masters” offers interactive games that combine math and healthy eating. . Also, we highly recommend the App “Food Boss” where children can explore how a healthy and balanced dish is composed and interact with peers.

Grow fruits and vegetables 10

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Summer is here, so this is a good time to plant some seeds and observe them grow. Research has shown that the involvement of children in growing their own vegetables and fruits improved their consumption for these food groups.

. Do a natural science experiment on how soil type influences the seed germination. . Or simply plant some vegetables inside, on the balcony or in the garden.

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by ChicoFit

Oh Summer, how we’ve missed you. The beaming sun, blue skies, warm smiles, and let’s not forget the best time to show off those bodies! We’ve all either heard it or said it at least once, “Working on my summer body,” and either fail or rise to the occasion. So what are we doing to get those “summer bodies” in tip top shape?

Here are four body weight exercises that you can do at home to stay ready for the Summer. Each exercise should be performed for 1 minute with 30 seconds rest between each. All four exercises are equivalent to 1 cycle and should be completed for a total of at least 4 cycles.

Shane is originally from Bridgetown, Barbados but has lived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for 18 years where he received his primary and secondary education. He believes greatly in the words of St. Augustine, “Faith is to believe what you cannot see, the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” By this, he exudes onto others their ability to reach their health and fitness goals by looking deep and believing in themselves. Shane has been in the fitness industry for the past 5 years after completing his qualification with the International Sports Sciences Association. Since his Personal Training Qualification, Shane moved to South Africa and has worked with many clients around the world providing exercise and nu-

tritional plans and helping them reach their goals through HIIT Training, resistance training, as well as sports specific training. He realized the need to push people past their comfort zones and has applied this to each person through positive encouragement and constant reminders of the euphoric and life-changing benefits looking after your body has. He has seen nothing short of outstanding results by doing this including working with TV Personalities and high-class clientele on Resort Islands in the Caribbean. Shane has been immensely devoted to his work and enjoys helping live happier, healthier, and longer lives. He applies his beliefs to himself and is always keen and excited to put his professional skills and knowledge to good use.


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I’m here to give you just a couple exercises that you can do in the space of your home to get you tones a sweating. Not only will these exercises provide a great calorie burn, but target multiple muscle groups at once to give you a dynamic full body workout. So let’s do this!




Start in a standing position. Bend your knees going into a plank by pushing both legs back. Bring both knees back in and shoot up into the standing position then immediately into a lunge. Alternate sides every time you come up into the lunge.

COCONUT CRUSHER PUSH-UP Start in plank position. Bring right knee into left elbow then left knee to right elbow. Then directly into a push-up. (TIP: Exhale every time you bring your knee into your elbow)


Lying on your stomach, lift your chest and thighs off the floor. With straight arms, bring them back and forth in a butterfly/swimming motion. (TIP: Keep face pointing downward so neck and spine are in a neutral position.)



Lying flat on your back, start with legs in “L” position elevated off the floor. Use right hand to reach up to left toes then alternate to the opposite side using left hand to reach up to right toes. (TIP: Exhale when reaching to toes. Keep space between your chin and chest.)


Each exercise should be performed for 1 minute with 30 seconds rest between each. All four exercises are equivalent to 1 cycle and should be completed for a total of at least 4 cycles.

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FOLLOW CHICOFIT @Chico Rudy Huggins @ChicoFitHuggins





aScurlock INTERVIEW:

ear Old KIDpreneur by TEAM I AM ART

I started my first business when I was 6-years-old called, J’Adore Sweets. It was a cupcake business. Well, my mom and I were talking and she asked me what I wanted to do since school was out because of the Covid-19. We thought about different things and I finally decided to start making lipglosses. The name was created by my mom and me. My middle name is J’Adore and POP means Pretty On Purpose. We merged those 2 and created J’Adore POP Cosmetics. My biggest influence are my parents.

All 3 of them are entrepreneurs.

As a 10-year-old entrepreneur or as we call it KIDpreneur, what has been your biggest challenge and lesson you’ve learned thus far? My biggest challenge is getting my orders out on time since I don’t drive. Lol! We are so inspired by your creativity! Your attention to detail, texture, and presentation is so appreciated. Where do you go seek inspiration for your product ideas? Sometimes the colors remind me of a song or a name and that’s how I create the names.

Your Zodiac Gloss Collection creates such a beautiful rainbow pallet, which one will you say is your fav? We’re stuck between Galaxy, Goddess, and Grown-ish—So beautiful. My favorite one is Galaxy because it reminds me of out of space. We noticed outside of your lip gloss you also have lip scrub. What other products could we expect to come from J’Adore? We are working on an eye-shadow pallet, beard oil for men, plant-based facial cleansers, and many more. How has the experience been working alongside


your mother during this process? It’s fun. If I didn’t have my mom, I wouldn’t have a business. We try every product we make together.

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How did the name and idea come about creating J’Adore POP Cosmetics? Who was your biggest influence and why?

Ms. Tymika we just know you’re so proud of your daughter because we definitely are! Being a black female entrepreneur yourself, what lessons are you trying to teach Lyla on her early journey into entrepreneurship? I am so proud of her and what she is accomplishing at the age of 10. The lessons I teach her are #1 Wake up early. #2 You treat each lipgloss like it’s a million dollars. #3 Be consistent. #4 Take a break and enjoy the fruits of your labor. We can only imagine how crazy it can get when making new samples of lipgloss and products. Has your kitchen become a fulltime lipgloss workshop yet? How’s that process been for you?


Yes indeed! My kitchen is a lipgloss factory. The process has been interesting. Lyla is a 10-yearold so some days, she doesn’t want to be “J’Adore POP” so I have to keep the ball rolling. I want her to enjoy her childhood and understand the importance of being a business owner. So, we have developed a schedule for her to ensure she doesn’t get burnt out and stop enjoying the process.


Ms. Lyla, what’s your favorite part about creating your products? My favorite part is being able to do it with my mom and making samples for my baby sister, she loves makeup. What is your goal or big dream for J’Adore? My goal is to have my products in stores and magazines. I want to have a multi-million dollar business. We heard through the Grapevine that Ms. Lyla is also a dancer? Tell us more. Yes, dancing is my life. I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old. I do ballet, hip hop, and majorette. That is so amazing! We just love your energy! Such a talented young lady. Before we let you go, what words of empowerment will you give to other young girls who may want to start a company and be a KIDpreneur like you? Kids out there, keep trying, and don’t give up. There are so many things you can do and be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be great. You can do it.





by Angela Velasquez

Among the unexpected twist and turns of 2020 is the mainstreaming of face masks in the Western part of the world. Manufacturing for medical and non-medical masks, or personal protective equipment (PPE), swept across the global industry beginning in March as companies like Prada, Mother Denim, Gucci, Citizens of Humanity and more halted regular production or shifted their resources to produce masks for COVID-19 first responders and the general public.

For some, incorporating a fashion and personal element to PPE is one way to help cope with and humanize this new reality. “The average person understands that COVID-19 will be with us at least until a vaccine is developed and widely spread, so we expect to see face masks in the assortments for the next 12-18 months,” said Benjamin Ayer, founder of the new fashion trend forecasting firm Benjamin Bellwether. Searches for non-medical face masks remain high, according to global fashion search platform Lyst. Searches increased 510 percent since the beginning of the year to the start of May. As an alternative to face masks, page views for scarves are also up when the seasonal demand for the category would normally be much lower.


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A series of contradicting studies and guidelines and the fragmented reopening of states and cities in the U.S. has led to debates about the effectiveness of PPE. For some, wearing or not wearing a face mask even signifies their political views. But as states with initially low numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases begin to see the contagion spread, the latest statistics serves as a reminder that PPE is part of the “new normal.”

“Given how quickly consumers have adopted the face mask out of necessity and how brands have responded to that by offering face masks as a new product category, we absolutely see this continuing to be a key item in collections for brands at all price points, from fast-fashion retailers to independent brands to luxury designers,” said Hallie Spradlin, Fashion Snoops, accessories director. From sports and entertainment licensing opportunities, to masks that coordinate with signature prints or feature brands’ patented colors (here’s looking at you, Tiffany & Co. and Christian Louboutin), masks have opened a new realm of creative branding opportunities for fashion. And for the time being, the entry to play is fairly low.


Any company that makes tees can make masks, said Sharon Graubard, Mintmoda founder and creative director. The product, she said, is an easy extension of brands like Los Angeles Apparel, which has demonstrated such versatility with its 3-pack of comfortable cotton jersey masks. Meanwhile, bra manufacturers are well positioned because of their technical expertise and their experimental approach to fabric and construction, she said.


In the short term, Ayer said nearly all categories and markets are poised to operate a profitable face-mask business. “It’s simple supply and demand, and customers are becoming more and more okay with paying money for face masks they can reuse,” Ayer said. But the category will likely evolve by companies spending more time on “alpha-sizing for better fits,” developing styles for children and experimenting with constructions for a more polished look, he said. And fashion brands also have to take some time to find to hone their point of view in this category. While initial shipments of PPE were created under urgency, consumers will expect PPE with higher degrees of comfort, protection and aesthetics— qualities that guide their other fashion purchases. “Brands should create products with their specific customer in mind whether it’s from a color or material perspective,” Spradlin said. “Individuals still want to express themselves as they would with any choices they make in apparel or accessories, so [consider] trends like bold colors, positive messages, or prints and patterns that reflect each brand’s target consumer.”

Street smarts There is a very high chance that face masks will become a new status symbol in the luxury streetwear market. Even before the pandemic, “elaborate face masks” were part of the street-style looks showing up at fashion weeks, Ayer noted, and influential Gen Zers like pop star Billie Eilish sported designer masks to high-profile events, like the custom crystal-embellished Gucci version she wore to the 2020 Grammys. Fashion Snoops was tracking masks prior to the pandemic as a fashion item created by luxury streetwear brands like Gucci and Marine Serre. Off-White has been selling them in its collections for a few seasons. Many more brands will start to design collections focused on the item, Spradlin said. “We’ve already started to see trendy brands like Collina Strada offer more fashion-focused face masks, turning them into artful creations as an extension of their brands and a new, and often more accessible, category for expression,” she added. Just as the hybrid luxury streetwear category latched onto sneakers, belt bags and denim to draw a younger consumer demographic, experts see face masks as another entry point ‘It’ item. The novelty aspect of designer PPE also makes it ripe for another trend borrowed from streetwear: coveted collaborations. “The OG street style consumer has had a mask in their fashion vernacular for a few years, and these brands are really influential in terms of where people’s discretionary income goes,” Ayer said. Luxury brands, however, will have to toe a delicate

“You can no longer justify charging a huge amount of money for a face mask—at least for now—so when you add in the additional marketing dollars and other costs to do a collaboration, you probably wouldn’t margin out at the end of the day,” Ayer said. Instead, he said, we may see one brand partner with another to offload excess fabric and call it a collaboration in the marketing, which could be a creative way to help each other out. “We’ve seen

some artists teaming up with brands to decorate the masks, but I think that’s temporary or at least will be on a much smaller scale compared to powerhouse brand match-ups,” he added. Though brands may have to “save face” by selling masks at reasonable price points, the resale market is proving to be another story. From March to May, Glossy reported that StockX’s face mask sales increased by 210 percent and mask prices were up 282 percent. An Off-White mask featuring the brand’s signature arrow design, which originally retailed for $100, sold for $466 on the resale platform. “With demand skyrocketing as face masks become a necessity around the world, the most wanted styles are now listed for many times their original price on resale platforms. And as key styles become harder to get, it only makes them more desirable,” Lyst stated.

The mask wardrobe As cities reopen and people begin to resume their work and social lives, forecasters are beginning to see how masks will play a part in their head-totoe outfits. Some people are coordinating masks with their ensembles, Graubard said, by pairing a camouflage mask with a camouflage jacket, or a white eyelet lace mask worn with a vintage sundress. “I’ve also seen several bedazzled masks both on social media and on girls downtown, making the mask into an expressive, fun component of getting dressed,” she said. Women’s designers are also developing masks that coordinate with the rest of their product line. Alice & Olivia offers a $10 cotton mask with its signature Stace Face print. Betsey Johnson packages


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line about price point.

pink-and-black floral face masks with a matching headband. Instagram-famous brand LoveShackFancy adapted its shabby-chic aesthetic to a $20 mixed-print floral covering. On the higher end, Prabal Gurung elevated masks with a $55 floral jacquard fabric. Erdem offers a floral cotton poplin mask for $65 that complements the rest of the brand’s moody florals. And KES is currently accepting pre-orders for its Dreamer mask, a $55 silk face covering that fastens with extra-long silk ribbons that can be tied as a long scarf or into a large bow. Like other accessories with functional roots that have since become fashion statements, like footwear and bags, Kelly Helfman, president of WWDMAGIC and Project Women’s, said she anticipates consumers wanting a full wardrobe of PPE. In a webinar with Fashion Snoops, Helfman said consumers may want a face covering for casual occasions and another for going out in the evening. There’s room for hand sanitizer accessories, too, she said. Helfman mused over the idea of developing a chic holder for mini hand sanitizers— something that women would be proud to clip onto their handbag. Adding a fashion element to products, she noted, brings consumers a sense of joy that the pandemic has depleted from many aspects of day-to-day life.


“Interestingly, many masks seem to lean toward that homespun aesthetic, perhaps because early on there were all those make-it-yourself patterns available online, and lots of Etsy sellers offering DIY versions in ginghams and country florals,” Graubard said.

Not all consumers, however, will want to emphasize this protective accessory. A portion of the consumer base will favor solid colors, or versatile styles that can be worn as a neckerchief or an impromptu mask.

Even though street vendors are selling masks across New York City, in Graubard’s neighborhood in the East Village, many people are choosing to wear basic blue disposable masks or classic bandanas tied over the mouth and nose. “Both say, ‘I’m not trying too hard,’” she quipped. “I think the big opportunities are masks that would be built-in to garments, like a turtleneck that pulls over the nose and mouth, or a beanie with a panel that pulls down, or a hood with panel,” Graubard said. “In cities, there’s something about the anonymity of the mask that is appealing—it’s almost like wearing dark glasses.” The biggest winners, Ayer added, will be brands that can make a face mask look good and perform as well as the less aesthetically pleasing versions with filters and nose clips. “Cloth masks are great, but they don’t offer a huge amount of perceived protection,” he said. “This perception of effectiveness versus aesthetic is where brands need to look for the value to be successful at this product category.”

Performance materials Manufactures’ swift pivot to PPE proves that the category can be any brand’s game. However, due to the necessity of breathable and durable materials for face masks, experts said one category in particular may have an upper hand. “Mask production is a natural for active-

wear companies, many of whom were already making specialty masks for runners and other participants of outdoor sports,” Graubard said. “I think the big opportunity

rics that wick moisture and fabrics that cool. Mask-wearing has also given rise to a new trove of skincare woes, a.k.a. “maskne.” The heat and moisture that masks trap against the face, particularly during humid summer months, can result in breakouts and other skin irritations. The problem doesn’t disappear in colder months either, as masks can rub against and irritate dry skin.

Several brands have already entered the space. Adidas sells a 3-pack of reusable face masks made recycled polyester. New Balance’s NB Face Mask v3 aims for comfort and fit featuring a lightweight 3-layer construction, moldable nose piece and stretch ear loops. Outdoor Voices emphasizes the breathability of its washable masks made with Bluesign-approved fabrics. These brands have a jump start on performance fabrics, and if the number of antimicrobial technologies that have entered the supply chain since the pandemic indicates anything, it is that performance is on the minds of both designers and consumers. “Material innovation is key for face masks as a way to integrate both protective elements and health benefits,” Spradlin said. “Some materials we’ve been tracking include antimicrobial fabrics like bamboo-derived viscose and disinfectant finishes, as well as probiotic-infused materials for immunity support.” Reusable masks should also have “easycare quick-drying” properties, Graubard said, adding that there is a need for fab-

While the common recommendations to prevent “maskne” is face washing and opting for a dye-free cotton mask, Graubard pointed out that cosmetic companies have an opportunity to innovate here. “I can imagine fabrics that have moisturizing or other skin-nourishing properties. After all, it is a piece of fabric against your skin, it may as well have some cosmetic or wellness benefits,” she said. Lifestyle brands with a performance component can make a strong push into the PPE category, too. “Imagine if Lululemon or Rhone came out with a face mask that is performance, has breathable layers and technology built into it,” Ayer said. “Or at Uniqlo, you can grab your Heattech leggings and an Airism face mask during checkout.” Eventually, Ayer said PPE will become like any product category a brand is looking to include in its assortment—it has to make sense for the brand to offer it.


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is in more sleek, high-performance versions, in breathable antimicrobial or antiviral materials.”

Trendalytics reported that during the month of May searches for “maskne” were up 1,943 percent compared to the year prior as people search for a solution. As a result, Bakuchiol, a natural alternative to retinol, is experiencing high search volumes and increased social buzz, while searches for niacinamide, which is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and redness, are on the rise.

Sustainability opportunity The product category also lends itself well to another burgeoning trend: upcycling. One trend that Fashion Snoops has seen since the beginning of this pandemic outbreak, Spradlin said, has been brands creating face masks from deadstock or material scraps from their own production. This resourceful approach has been employed by brands like Reformation, Mother Denim, and Joe’s Jeans. This strategic mask production, she noted, positions any apparel company to have an opportunity to meet the demands of the moment by introducing this new product category without immediately having to invest in new resources while at the same time reducing waste.

A Chinese designer named Zhijun Wang, Graubard noted, has been creating functional pollution masks, all upcycled from high-end sneakers. “His techno designs could inspire a whole new direction in masks, making them as desirable as the latest sneakers for streetwear looks,” she said. “It would be great if we can continue using face masks as a way to highlight sustainability and build it into the circular economy models,” Ayer said, adding that upcycled masks are one solution for garments at the end of their life cycle. “It would be cool to see brands utilize recycled fabrics or have the old clothing from rental websites go back into the fashion cycle in a way like this, where garments can just be cleaned and cut up for cloth masks,” he said.


Face coverings are another vessel for self-expression—perhaps even the new statement tee, Graubard mused. In the current polarizing climate in the U.S.—with people taking a staunch stance on social and political topics ranging from climate change and immigration, to police reform and gun control, masks have the potential to deliver silent yet powerful messages. Ayer pointed out that face masks will become part of the bigger ‘protest culture’ influence on fashion—the same way that he expects to see more camouflage prints and aggressive footwear like Doc Martens on the runway in the coming seasons. “People will use the face mask as a symbol of how a government may have failed them, to show solidarity with healthcare workers, or as silent protest to this event that we all shared together,” he said.


Our supporters (#TeamIamART) is the heart of the entire I AM ART Campaign operation; This is a team made up of diverse creative and non-creative youth, aspiring artists, allies, industry creatives, and entrepreneurs. Working together, believing in the mission of the campaign to help empower the next generation of artists. We’re incredible individually, but together, we’re unstoppable. Please continue to send and tag us in your I AM ART Merchandise, brightens our day. Either email your pictures to: or tag us on social media: @iamartcampaign #iamartcampaign

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Protesters at Black Lives Matter rallies have written poignant calls for action and statements about racism and police brutality on masks. The Black Lives Matter organization currently sells $15 masks with the phrases “justice” and “freedom” through its e-commerce store.

mal and accepted part of Eastern cultures is something that I think brands have to look at from a marketing perspective and retailers for brand alignment,” she said.

As the U.S. presidential election nears, masks have the potential to serve as the new campaign pin or red hat. A $20 mask that simply states “Biden” is among the infant onesies and Pride tees available for sale on former Vice President, and presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden’s official campaign website.

sumers to wear masks during flu seasons, entrenching PPE as a seasonal staple for brands and retailers.

The same cannot be said for the official store for the Trump-Pence website, however, that may be a merchandising reflection of the candidates’ stance on the protective coverings. Both politicians have rarely been seen wearing PPE since the start of the global pandemic.

New normal Wearing masks has been a reality in Asia for close to a decade. It is a habit, Spradlin noted, that was driven out of a public health necessity rather than as a “trendy” item. “The way that face masks are such a nor-

As stores open up, Ayer said he anticipates seeing masks at checkout lines and on mannequins. He also expects U.S. con-

“I think a lot of people are worried about the second wave of the virus in a few months,” he said. “If the retailers have them in their stores when the brick-andmortars open back up, a customer will grab a couple during checkout without thinking about it.” And if there are lessons to be learned about how brands and consumers approach masks in China, it is “the matter-of-factness” with which they are worn, Graubard said. “It’s an everyday hygiene choice that may catch on globally,” she said. “Even after COVID-19 is under control, people may more protect themselves and be more respectful of others when wearing masks.”


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by ARTavius Veasey

photography by Dewayne Murrell


During the beginning of this year’s second quarter, the world-changing pandemic called Covid-19 or Corona Virus has taken the world by storm; Demanding countries across the world to shut down and send their citizens into a mandatory quarantine. However, frontline nurses and “essential workers” had to continue going to work under scary safety precautions. Needless to say, what a tragedy is was AND STILL IS TODAY! Throughout this pandemic, police brutality began to make its way to multiple news headlines with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, AND MANY MORE. With the help of social media, the viewing of George Floyd’s sacrifice was absolutely traumatizing. Reaching millions of people in a matter of minutes; Hours later resulting in a spike of protest that set a historical record. The Black Lives Matter protest has raved many black and non-black people in every state of the United States and Internationally the first of its kind. Outside of my joy watching black and other races come together, seeing young creatives step up to use their artistry to express their frustrations towards police brutality and why Black Lives Matters was rewarding.

We must understand, there are many ways to join in the fight and make sure our voices are heard; Everyone is not as bold or comfortable to march and protest (including myself). Some people will use their creativity, rather through music, video, photography, painting, drawings, clothing, or merchandise; Others may want to donate money to the organizations or supporting those affected. Either way, it and qualifies as a contribution to the cause. So on behalf of myself and I AM ART Campaign, we want to say keep it up! Keep pushing the government and officials because change is definitely happening. Be sure you’re registered to vote and be sure to vote in the elections. We can’t let up now, there’s a good momentum going; BREONNA TAYLOR’S KILLERS STILL HAVEN’T BEEN ARRESTED. Keep creating and making your contributions, we’re a FORCE TOGETHER!


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Us here in Memphis, TN had our share, and still to this day protesting. I took it amongst myself to get out there and join in the fight in my own way and took a trip to the city hall downtown. The 30 years of living here, never have I ever seen city hall look like this; Banners, signs, flags, chalk drawings, and more filled the entrances.

©Evan Woodard

by Quan The Poet 29


BLACK LIVES MATTER I can no longer process Black Death An equation my mind can’t solve Born a blessing but lived cursed Been Black all my life An equation my mind can’t solve How can you be afraid when my back is to you? Been Black all my life Always tiptoeing with a prayer to make it home You think I’m a threat when my back is to you? The colorless don’t think, they believe they are pure They tiptoe with their privilege teaching their children Black skin is the scariest thing since the boogieman The colorless don’t think, they believe they are pure Being Black should come with a warning label Black skin is the scariest thing since the boogieman White man aims, shoots, and kills Being Black should come with a warning label Born a blessing but live a cursed life White man aims, shoots, and kills I can no longer process Black Death

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Quan The Poet (he/him) is a black Queer poet/spoken word artist from Los Angeles, CA. After the death of his only brother in 2018, he realized how short life was and decided to share the poems he’s kept to himself. Quan uses poetry to tell his stories about depression, addiction, social issues, and more; Seen at open mics and slams around the city of Los Angeles. In 2019, he released his poetry book “The Struggle”; His goal is to bring hope and inspiration to all queer youth to live out loud, share their story, and know they are survivors too.

Want more from Quan? Follow him on social media and pick up your copy of his Poetry Book “The Struggle”


Photography by @TechNick_Inc

by Kia “Kinfolk” Shine


“Kinfolk” KiaShine, most known for his breakout gold single “So Krispy” & co-write of Drake’s 3x platinum “Best I Ever Had” as well as his breakout acting roles in the cult classic movie “SuperFly “ and hit tv shows “Star”,”Atlanta” & “GreenLeaf” has a desire to inspire with with his new blog and podcast #CoffeewithKinfolk. ​ A morning motivational series which is impacting & engaging the millennials generation with inspiration with 1-minute Spri-TRILL videos (a clever euphemism

coined by Kinfolk)to describe the true and real messages that touch the spirit. When asked what inspired #CoffeewithKinfolk Shine states “It is my on-going love affair with coffee, (sidenote Kinfolk’s wife of 17years is from the home of great coffee Seattle) and the lack of positive influence to combat the negative that is promoted so heavily these days. ​ He also says as a libra I’m always searching for balance and figured maybe I can be the balance…”

#SubscribeToMyVibe! @CoffeeWithKinfolk

Kinfolk w/ daughter Golden Coleman

Kinfolk w/ wife @Yogalecia

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by Eso Tolson

As a Black man, I smile in the face of adversity. I smile in the face of opposition. And right now I smile for a Black man who can no longer, George Floyd. Although it should be, smiling is not easy, especially on days like this. Days where simply being a Black man can get you killed. Yea, Smiling is almost impossible. But, after all I’ve been through over the years, I’m still here. So I smile again. For me, smiling isn’t about ignoring the reality of life. It’s about resistance. It’s about reclaiming power. It’s about taking control. My life will NOT be reduced to struggle and turmoil. I have to smile. And even when it seems like everything is falling apart, I learned to keep smiling. I don’t do it in attempt to cover up the hurt and pain. I acknowledge the existence of both when they enter in my space. And I spend as much time as need with them. But, they can’t stay. So, I kick them out when it’s time for them to go (Cause they don’t leave on their own). That way, when I smile, its real. I’ve done the work for it. I earned it. Smiling comes from this place deep within. A place of hope. A place of peace. A place of wonder. A place of pride. A place of strength. Smiling is is vulnerable and takes courage. That’s why I smile.


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So, Smile Black man! it’s worth it. And so are you!

Eso is a lettering artist and branding strategist who creates work rooted in affirmation, pride, and community that allows people to feel safe and inspired. At Cheers Creative, Memphis-based brand and web consultancy, he teaches branding through strategy and storytelling for creative professionals, thought leaders, and social causes. As a lover of community, pop culture, and innercity life, he uses lettering to highlight current events and promote positive social messages and affirmations.

FOLLOW ESO @CoolUrbanHippie @CoolUrbanHippie

35 IAMARTCAMPAIGN.COM/MAG IAMARTCAMPAIGN.COM/MAG Quantavious Worship better known as Toonky Berry, is known for his creative talent around the city of Memphis. “I’m an illustrator first, then designer, painter, and muralist.” Berry states. Born and raised in Mississippi, and came to Memphis in 2013 to attend Memphis College of Art. Received his Bachelor’s degree in 2017, since then he’s been booking freelance gigs. He explains his unique brand and style by calling it Toonkification. “I toonkify people by drawing them in a caricatures of them but in my style.”

FOLLOW TOONKY @Toonky Berry @Toonkification @Toonky_berry


SHIRTS (Variety of Colors & Styles) To place you order, reach out to either Cyril or Reekoh via facebook for more information. @Cyril Henry @Reeh Keaux

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ARTISTon CREATING new artwork during Quarantine by Claire Voon

Artists are sheltering at home, and despite the disruptions to their lives and limited access to materials and space, many still feel an urge to create. Some are making works that respond directly to the coronavirus pandemic; others, now with unexpected spare time, are realizing suspended projects that have nothing to do with the developing global crisis. We spoke with seven artists about how their practices are helping them find solace and meaning in this period of uncertainty and paralyzing anxiety.


Francesca DiMattio

Between nursing a four-month-old, homeschooling a four-year-old, and caring for her husband, who has COVID-19, Francesca DiMattio has still found time to create. DiMattio, who is best known for her complex ceramic sculptures that marry sundry cultural and historical references, has been spending five hours a day in her home studio in Hillsdale, New York. With her husband self-quarantined in his own studio, both kids join her. While carrying her infant daughter in her arms, DiMattio has sculpted a chandelier and has been creating grids made of painted tiles; she’s also been building porcelain cups and dishes with her son, who glazes the vessels in cobalt.

The quarantine period has compelled DiMattio to find teaching moments in everyday challenges. “Both requiring your hands and attention, motherhood and one’s studio practice are in direct opposition to each other,” she said. “I have been determined to find ways for them to enrich one another.” Recently, she began working on a new project, making frames out of materials such as Legos and nails to construct a family tree and visual pet cemetery. The process has inspired her son to experiment with techniques, but it’s also helped DiMattio cope with her anxiety and fear. “I have never really appreciated how much I needed art for my mental well-being,” DiMattio said. “Working has been centering. Completing something when everything else feels so up in the air is grounding.”

Amani Lewis

In March, Baltimore-based artist Amani Lewis moved to Asheville, North Carolina, to take care of their partner, who recently underwent surgery. At the same time, Lewis has been supporting their community by selling portraits they made of their friends and other Black individuals, giving proceeds to loved ones who have lost work due to COVID-19. Using the house they’re staying in as their studio, they’ve continued to make collages with whatever material is at hand, from magazines to yarn. “What I do for my community will not change because the world around me does,” Lewis said. “I just have to find a new way to navigate a very tough situation.” They have finalized a few sales so far, including a major one from a Swedish gallery that earned them around $30,000. Most of the portraits they’re currently selling are priced between $2,000 and $5,000. Having to practice social distancing has been particularly hard for the self-described social butterfly. “I need to engage with people and incorporate those moments and conversations into my work,” Lewis said. “Feeling disconnected to people and feeling like that is what needs to happen to protect them is a wild concept.” Still, they’re finding hope in their temporary environment of Asheville, finding beauty in the surrounding greenery. “It’s amazing to see in this springtime of illness and death,” Lewis said. “There is life all around me, I will keep that in mind as I work.”

Jess Johnson

All of her forthcoming exhibitions, projects, and commissions have either been canceled or postponed. Free of the administrative duties that come with an art practice, Johnson has taken this opportunity to reflect on why she loves making art. “All I had been desiring was more time to draw, and now I have all the time in the world,” she said. “So many artists, myself included, produce artwork with an outcome in mind, such as an exhibition or career step. And removing that outcome can perhaps free us to experiment and create art that connects us to the universalities of being human, as opposed to ‘professional artists’ operating within the structures of a commercial art world.” One project she’s taken off the backburner: a deck of playing cards she’s designing with her quarantine buddy, Bobby. Like many of Johnson’s other works, which range from textiles to animation, the cards are teeming with arcane symbols, each suit a futuristic rune. Selling the finished decks will be one way to support herself. Johnson is acutely aware of the likelihood that usual sources of income may not be viable in the future. “I’m keen to make more affordably priced merchandise that I can sell directly to people, as that’s something that I can control, and I don’t have to depend on the commercial gallery system,” she said. “All I need is Instagram.”


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In the front room of her Red Hook apartment, Jess Johnson has been drawing humanoid figures, hybrid beasts, and psychedelic patterns to try and quiet her mind. “There’s only so much anxiety you can manifest about things you have absolutely no control over,” she said. “But I do have complete control over the world in my drawings, and that’s always been important to the psychology of why I do it.”

Tony Lewis

This month, Tony Lewis was scheduled to debut new works at Blum & Poe’s New York gallery, but the exhibition has been postponed until further notice. Glimpses of some of those drawings have made their way onto his Instagram account, where Lewis has also been sharing snapshots of his lockdown life in Chicago. Splitting time between his home and studio building, he has been working on drawings, including some wherein he alters the text and images in Calvin and Hobbes comic cells. “I’m sort of immediately back to the literal drawing board, while finished exhibition objects and concepts float aimlessly,” Lewis said. “It’s a funky place. I’ve got drawing ideas happening at the moment that are nine years old, others that are five, and quick riffs off of current ideas that help me think about drawing in different ways.” Art has been a way for Lewis to fight cabin fever, as has mixing cocktails, spending time with his girlfriend, and watching Key & Peele. While finding focus has been hard, he’s been able to work an hour or so at a time as he falls into new routines. “I think I’m loosening up and settling into the current reality,” Lewis said. “Artists tend to fight with self-discipline on a daily basis, and now more and more people are having to deal with it. Finding a sense of daily rhythm that lowers anxiety and stress feels like a good thing—no matter how weird one’s system may seem.”


Since March 15th, the day he began his lockdown at his home near Los Angeles’s Chinatown, Ito has been painting small apertures to other worlds: windows and keyholes, through which lie dreamlike views of unnamed lands. They are compact riffs on motifs that frequent his works, which often look like fairy-tale scenes—were it not for the presence of fires and ghostly hands that imbue them with palpable tension. Ito has been painting at home to be with his wife and dog, though he visits his studio to fetch supplies. Working at his dining room table, he has been preparing for a solo show at Anat Ebgi, sketching out familiar symbols that have taken on new significance since quarantine. “Not being able to go outside or see our loved ones brings new narratives to explore,” Ito said. “Even the hands in the vignette paintings grew a new meaning as we are instructed to not touch one another or our surroundings.” Motivation has come, in part, from his family history. Ito has been thinking about his grandparents and great-grandparents who were among more than 100,000 Japanese Americans sent to internment camps established by the U.S. government during World War II. “To know that they endured years of fear and hatred and continued to live and cultivate a beautiful life and family is incredibly uplifting,” Ito said. “It gives me hope that things can get better and that people can persevere.” For now, he added, “My practice is my place for refuge and self-reflection.”

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I always loved Superman. He is one of the most powerful men on Earth, and all he has to do is wear a shirt and tie, put on his glasses, and blend in as one of us. Sounds like me. I wake up to head to my corporate job and after work, I drive straight to the gym to teach a super high energy fitness class. But how do I do it? Sometimes I have to ask myself, am I really Superman? I always loved art ever since I was younger. As a small shy kid, I was teased and bullied for being a geek. So getting away from everyone and drawing superheroes was my escape. I never saw myself doing anything but art and stayed focused on getting a degree in Graphic Design. Once I started working in Corporate Branding and Marketing, my passion leads me to the position of becoming a Creative Director. It was literally a dream come true.


But I never knew in life you could have two dreams, two passions‌ until I stepped into a Zumba class. I always loved to dance, but of course, as a geek, I was too shy to ever do it in public. But I would always be in my room dancing to TLC, Janet, and Usher. So I said to myself, just try it. I went to the back of the room and I had no clue what I was doing, but I loved the music! Then for an entire year, I took Zumba every single day and finally got the steps. As I was sitting at my desk in my suit and tie, I went on the website and decided to register to be a Zumba Instructor. My fingers were literally shaking because I knew this would change my life. The moment I hit the stage in my colorful outfit, muscles bulging, dancing in front of all my students, a light clicked. I turned into this super awesome and epic human being that was moving the crowd with such confidence. It was literally a dream come true, again. Sometimes I have to ask myself, am I really Superman? Every day I live two passions and try to give that same passion in my office as well as in the studio. My passions have now become my purpose: to be creative in making people feel like they are the most powerful people on Earth. Guess I really am Superman.

@ShawnQT @Shawn Anderson

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by ARTavius Veasey

I didn’t quite come from a family of musicians or creative, but I have a few family members who dabbled in music. There’s one person who truly inspired my interest in music and that’s my Uncle Keith. He is a drummer, songwriter, and lyricist who actually pursued a career in music. His albums and live performances inspired my musical hunger which pushed me to learn more about music. So I consider myself self-taught.

When was that moment you realized you wanted to be an artist?

I realized I wanted to be an artist when I began writing songs in middle school. I realized that I not only wanted to write the songs, but I also wanted to perform my songs. So I created my first band in middle school called Generation. Our band performed for the school pep rallies and I created the entire show. The electrifying feeling I received from being on that stage changed my life and revealed my passion for performance. I can definitely see the influences of Micheal Jackson, James Brown, and Prince in your live performances. You are for sure an entertainer! Where do you draw inspiration from for each performance? They are put together so nicely, you can tell you

Dreion is an electrifying singer-songwriter, musician, producer, and performing artist from Omaha, Nebraska. He is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor’s Degree in Songwriting minoring in Africana Studies who balances his career and performing life while also being a husband and a father.

people together to celebrate life, love, and liberty through the unifying language of music and culture. His music can be best described as a combination of Gospel, Soul, Funk, and R&B, taking inspiration from Prince, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson, John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin, The Clark Sisters and many more.

Dreion is a survivor of the foster care system and an avid advocate for foster care reform. As a survivor, Dreion seeks to use his traumatic experiences to impact generations internationally through the healing power of music and the art of live performance. He considers himself to be a soul therapist. His music heals, inspires, sheds light, and resonates with the deepest parts of the soul through his message of hope. His story is a powerful journey of trauma, tragedy, and triumph the world needs to hear. His artistry and live performances bring

Dreion is also an alumnus of both the Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship and the Warren & Susan Buffett Scholarship programs (full cost of attendance awards for outstanding academic excellence). In 2019, he was awarded “Performer of The Year” by the Berklee Urban Service Awards. Dreion has had the privilege of performing at many prestigious venues and events including the Boston Boy and Girls Club Annual Charity Gala, the College World Series, Gillette Stadium, and the legendary Grand Ole Opry.

FOLLOW DREION @Dreionation @Dreionation @Dreionation @Dreion


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First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to sit and chat with me, it’s a pleasure. I’m such a fan of your artistry, the way you express your messages through a song and live performing is so entertaining to watch. You have definitely taken the time to mold and develop your craft. Where did all this talent come from? Were you raised in a family of creatives or musicians?

put in that work in rehearsals.

I draw all my inspiration from studying live performance videos and tours of James Brown, Prince, Michael Jackson, Kirk Franklin, John P Kee, and many more. The best way to become a master is to be a student of the masters. A good student always pays attention to detail. Speaking of music, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played your album, I AM LIFE that released this past May. Each song has its own vibe yet collaborated so well cohesively as a full body of work. What has been the most rewarding experience so far for you since the release of your debut album?

The most rewarding experience so far has been receiving the chance to further reform for foster care children in the system by partnering with the Mixed Roots Foundation which is a national foster care and adoption foundation and having my project featured the film “Foster Boy” produced by Shaquelle O’Neal highlighting the struggles and hardships of foster children in the system. Niceee! Congrats on that. Your music is so dope; when I tell you the album be on repeat, straight jamming at the house lol! But I have to know what’s your favorite song on the album and why? I’m stuck between two but if I had to choose one it’ll be “I Got A Bad Feeling” — very powerful song. 45 IAMARTCAMPAIGN.COM/MAG IAMARTCAMPAIGN.COM/MAG

I would have to say “I Got A Bad Feeling” is my favorite as well because of its raw emotion and message. I wrote it from the perspective of a black mother who is trying to prepare her black son to endure the hardships of systematic racism and evils in society that threatens his destiny and existence. I can feel the pain of every black mother through this song.

Right! I also love how you reference yourself as a soul therapist, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Everything so far that I’ve heard you sing or perform has definitely touched my soul. Rather I’m dancing in the car on my way to work or crying from a certain memory a song reflects upon. What is your goal or message you’re trying to push with your music?

My goal is to heal, inspire, shed light, and resonate with the deepest parts of the soul through my message of hope. I want my powerful testimony to inspire and uplift others. I simply seek to bring people together to celebrate love, life, and liberty through the unifying language of music and culture. Witnessing your complete story of being in foster care on your YouTube channel not only caught me off guard but also pulled at my heartstrings. I would’ve never guessed or knew you were a product of the foster care system. I haven’t seen many people speaking out about it much but I commend you for taking a stand and sharing your story. I can only imagine how traumatizing it was for you being stripped away from your parents and family at 6 years old. Now that you’re out of the system and made it through, what is it that you’re trying to get out there with your story and foster care reform? First, I want to let other foster children know that they’re

not alone. Secondly, I want to bring more awareness to the importance of this topic to reveal the abuse, neglect, exploitation, and experimentation happening by the government. Lastly, I want people to know that your tragedy does not define your triumph! As now a husband and father, how have being a part of the foster care system as a child affect your adult life? As a father, it’s my goal to make sure my daughter never goes through the horrific things I lived through; so the foster care system has made me very aware and protective. Professional therapy really has helped my mental health as an adult because trauma is

something you can’t ignore. It’s something that must be faced head-on to achieve true mental stability and peace. On each of our creative journeys, we all go through some form of discouragement from our peers on not agreeing with our path or career we’re pursuing creatively or some of us have even said some negative things to ourselves in self-sabotage. How have you combat the discouraging low points on your journey and what advice would you give to an aspiring artist who may be going through their low point trying to merge into the music industry? I’ve always been self-driven so it’s all about believing and investing in you no matter who’s cheering you on or not. Those who say they can and they can’t are both right! You must speak positivity to yourself, create a vision, and write it down so you can see it every day to remind yourself of your purpose. You have purpose and value, but it’s your job to find your uniqueness and use it as an asset to accomplish your vision.

Thank you so much for highlighting and listening to my story! More music and content coming soon!


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Dreion it’s been an absolute honor and pleasure to be able to chat with you. I pray you keep going and blessing people of this world with your talent and creativity. In these crazy times of what’s going on today, we need every piece of hope and positivity. You are definitely the one to watch out for and I know you’re going to be even greater as time goes on. But before I let you go, do you have any last words for our readers or your supporters?




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Cooper-Young is celebrating Tennessee’s first rainbow crosswalk. A weekend that began with traffic signal installation at the crosswalk Saturday culminated with an opening celebration Sunday. “We’ve been a progressive city, and I cannot love this city enough for it,” Miss Gay Tennessee Iris LeFleur said. The crosswalk in the diverse Midtown neighborhood is a source of pride for many who worked to make it a reality. Jerred Price, an advocate and former city council candidate, was inspired after he saw Atlanta’s rainbow crosswalks, which were installed in 2017 – a year after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. He said Memphis has “led the state forward towards progressiveness.” Cooper-Young was the right

by Abigail Warren

neighborhood due to its high concentration of same-sex identifying households, according to Price. He went to the city’s newly formed Public Arts Oversight Committee, asking for approval for the project. Price said the project can help drive visitors to Memphis and Cooper-Young to visit and take photos. “(Memphis) has always been leading the city in equality and as a beacon of opportunity,” Price said he told committee members. “There was no reason Memphis (couldn’t) have the state’s first rainbow crosswalk. The committee supported the project unanimously and the mayor’s office endorsed it. The rainbow walkway is the first project the committee approved.


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“We’re the crash dummies,” Price said. As friends hugged him and congratulated him on the opening Sunday, he said it was an “outpouring of love” that contributed to its success. “Are y’all excited for our crosswalk?,” LeFleur asked the crowd gathered for Sunday’s opening celebration. The response was a resounding cheer. As part of the opening celebration, drag queens strutted amid speeches before about 100 walked across the bright colors to show their support for the visual representation of LGBTQ rights in Memphis. Donors funded the project and will maintain it, using no taxpayer dollars, Price said.


“It’s so magical for a city that’s had so many fights for justice and equality,” he said, looking around and adding that the crosswalk represents “love compassion and inclusiveness.”


Dabney Ring, intergovernmental relations coordinator for the City of Memphis, serves as the LGBTQ liaison to Mayor Jim Strickland’s office. She said the idea became solid in May, and she praised Price’s drive for making the crosswalk happen. If Price can raise the funds, he’d like all four sides of the Cooper-Young intersection to be painted like a rainbow to celebrate pride heritage. Those gathered Sunday cheered as he expressed the desire. “Let’s keep leading the state in progressiveness and equality and love,” Price said.

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