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Artist Spotlight: Celebrating One's Culture, Chicago & Anime

Sometimes the best things just fall into our laps. I was perusing Instagram one day and an illustration of Gerald from ‘Hey Arnold’ popped up on my explore page. I immediately clicked on the image to creep on who created it. Side note: ‘Hey Arnold’ was one of those shows from my childhood that I loved. To my surprise, a few of my friends were following the illustrator already. I reached out to one of my friends and it turns out, they’re best friends with them – small world! I’m excited to introduce Tiffany Temple, a Chicago-based graphic designer and illustrator.

As someone who works a full-time job and has side hobbies (one of them creating content for OFTA), I wanted to ask Tiffany how she balances work and her illustrations. She mentioned that she’s “trying to nail down a steady routine” – as we all are. What’s made things more accessible is being able to work from home. Tiffany continued by saying, “now that I am able to work remotely, it’s much easier to pull out my art supplies and paint something during my lunch break or whenever I have some free time.” There’s been a drive for many of us to keep entertained at home since the pandemic started. Luckily for Tiffany, she found her sweet spot between balancing work and personal projects.

It’s important to test out what tools work for each artist and creator whether it’s physical or digital. Tiffany has found the medium that works for her and is one that she enjoys working with, which is gouache, an opaque paint that’s similar to both watercolors and acrylics. She said that “it’s got a nice opaque finish that makes my pieces look really dope.” If you go onto her Instagram, you can see the progress of her piece, Sleepy Sun, which is also pictured below. From what I can tell, she’s definitely got the gouache technique down, even though I’m still a newbie trying to understand the medium.

Something important I wanted to know is the story of when Tiffany started her creative journey. She mentioned, “I have been drawing and painting my whole life.” The turning point where Tiffany knew she was an artist happened in third grade. Tiffany commented that “the kids in my third grade class were impressed by my slightly more refined trees, birds, and stick figures.” We all had to start somewhere! Her inspiration draws from elements of her culture along with the media she consumed growing up, such as anime and cartoons.

Along with being inspired by her culture and the shows she grew up with, Tiffany is also inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s work. She said, “I’ve always been drawn by the work by Vincent Van Gogh just because I love their use of texture and movement in the iconic pieces like ‘The Starry Night’.” Another inspiration from Van Gogh is that he “had a certain color palette they seemed to stick to that’s recognizable.” Tiffany mentioned she’s working on her color palette, which is an exciting milestone to get to!

Tiffany Temple

“There’s art surrounding us all over the city, so I think Chicago has a creative spirit in general.” - Tiffany Temple

Since Tiffany is Chicago-born and raised, I wanted to pick her brain about the Chicago artist community. She gave insight on her experience of this community, saying “there are spaces where you can have a voice and be seen as long as you choose to show up,” which is something I agree with. There's an importance to putting yourself out there, being present and meeting other creatives in-person; there's a community for anyone and everyone. Something Tiffany mentioned that she loves about Chicago culture is that, “you get to experience so many different communities in one place.”

I wanted to also ask Tiffany some questions based on her favorite pieces she's created.

Q: What advice do you give to those that want to improve or even start drawing and painting?

A: My advice is to practice and be patient with your progress. If there is an art style or an artist that captures your eye and that you really enjoy, try making pieces in that style and add your own essence into it. Developing a unique style can be challenging but it’s rewarding to see how far you’ve come if you keep going.

Q: What’s your favorite piece you’ve done within the past year and why is it your favorite? (If you're able to send a picture of this, that'd be great!)

A: One of my favorite pieces within this past year is called ‘Black boyhood’. The subject matter is important to me as a black person that tends to process the realities of what blackness is through my art.

Q: What’s your top 3 favorite pieces of all time that you’ve created and why?

#1 A piece from a few years ago that I always think about is a watercolor painting of Luffy from the anime One Piece–I just love how that one turned out. I’m excited to scan it and potentially sell prints of it someday!

#2 Sunflower Samurai– An ode to one of my favorite animes called Samurai Champloo, this piece is where I started to see my personal art style shine through.

#3 Jezebel Spirit– I love this piece because I’ve started to explore and incorporate a certain level of sexiness in my work that I haven’t before and I dig it a lot.

Make sure you check out Tiffany’s Instagram for more of her art pieces! That being said, social media plays a big part in today’s day and age. I wanted to know Tiffany’s stance on social media when it comes to sharing her art and if there’s pressure to make content. She said there’s “this incessant feeling” to make “a new piece of art regularly and make it quickly.” She also mentioned, “I am not a machine. I am a human that likes to take my time and make art based on how I am feeling. Most pieces I work on I remember how I was feeling around that time and why I made it.” In order to have control over what she creates, Tiffany chooses to not create while under pressure, which is something I respect.

In the future, Tiffany hopes to work on pieces that “have some sort of social commentary incorporated and is a reflection of the times we’re in.” She wants to create art “that makes people feel seen and at home,” which is comforting and makes me look forward to seeing more in the future!

Edited by: Ariana Jenkins

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