Get to Know These Black Creatives
Abstract painter Patrick Alston is taking painterly abstraction to a new level. Alston was born and raised in New York. As a young artist, he had an affinity for gesture painting, materials, and psychology. He found inspiration in abstract and experimental artists like Raymond Saunders, Cy Twombly, Mark Bradford, and Basquiat.
His love for attraction led to him attending Wabash College in Indiana, where he majored in art and psychology. His studies and post-grad work focused on socio-politics, identity, language, and the psychology of color. After graduating from college, he began showcasing his painterly abstractions in various solo and group exhibitions across the globe, including the U.S. and the U.K. In 2021, he secured his first art residency through Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana.
Alston currently splits his time between New York and Connecticut, where he has a dedicated studio.
Portrait painter Amy Sherald is bringing a fresh take on portraiture. Sherald was born and raised in Georgia to an upper-middle-class family. She had an affinity for art at a young age, drawing and doodling on her classwork. She found inspiration after seeing the work of Bo Bartlett on a school field trip. Despite her artistic interest, her parents discouraged her interest, leading her to enroll at Clark-Atlanta University as a pre-med. She eventually switched to painting after taking a class taught by renowned artist-historian Dr. Arturo Lindsay.
Following graduation, Sherald apprenticed for Lindsay, helping him organize and install exhibitions in Central and South America, China, and Norway. She eventually pursued her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Soon, she put her art career on hold to take care of her ailing family. She returned to the art world with her first solo show in 2011. Her work eventually caught the eye of others, leading to some firsts. The portrait artist became the first woman to win the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and the first Black woman commissioned to create a presidential portrait with her painting of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sherald currently works in Maryland, where she has a dedicated studio. She currently participates in solo and group exhibitions while accepting commissions.
Freelance writer and novelist Britt Bennett gives a view into African-American life through a female lens. Bennett was born and raised in California in a predominately female household with her mother and sisters. Those relationships inspired her to write as she began crafting her first novel in high school. Her passion for writing led her to major in English at Stanford University.
Bennett decided to pursue her MFA at the University of Michigan before attending Oxford University. She first caught national for her essay “I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People.” The writer eventually authored more notable works like “Addy Walker, An American Girl” and “Ta-Neishi Coates and a Generation Waking Up.” She soon ventured into publishing with her debut novel, The Mothers, in 2016 before releasing her follow-up, The Vanishing Half, in 2020. Both books became New York Times best sellers and were optioned for upcoming live-action productions.
Bennett was named to Time magazine’s Time100 Next. She recently published her first children’s book Meet Claudie: An American Girl.
Illustrator and graphic designer Sophia Yeshi uses her work to highlight Black women and the LGBTQ+ community. Yeshi grew up in Baltimore as the daughter of a Pakistani father and a Black mother. Her affinity for graphic design began at age 12 when she scored a free trial of Photoshop. She took graphic design courses in high school before studying the discipline at the University of Baltimore.
After graduating, Yeshi interned for a few local firms before she started freelancing for companies like Converse and LinkTree. Soon, her work caught the attention of Refinrey29, which commissioned her to do some design work for the website. After that, the multifaceted artist created designs and campaigns for brands and publications like Instagram, Rock the Vote, The New York Times, Dwell Magazine, Comcast, Google, and UPS. She gained enough traction to secure a creative residency with Adobe and a teaching partnership with Skillshare.
Along with creating designs for multiple companies and brands, Yeshi also runs a blog highlighting other designers.
Type designer Tre Seals uses his work to elevate and amplify social causes. Seals grew up in Washington. D.C., where he lived on a farm. His fascination with drawing and writing began at age four when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His love for letters became a legit creative business in the 5th and 6th grades. He designed his first font as a high school senior, which led to him majoring in graphic design at Stevenson University.
Seals spent his early post-grad career working for several design firms. Those experiences led him to want to diversify the design industry. He launched his company before founding his font foundry, Vocal Type, in 2016. His diverse fonts caught the world’s attention in 2020 when his font Martin became associated with Black Lives Matter murals after the killing of George Floyd. This attention eventually led to the type designer creating fonts for filmmaker Spike Lee and the Amazon Labor movement.
Seals currently works in Maryland, the home base of his studio and foundry. He recently published his first book, Dream in Color, while working on other non-type design projects.