Today we’d like to introduce you to Tijera Williams.
Tijera, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In kindergarten, while all the other kids bounced ideas off of who and what career path they aspired to go towards, I chose from that moment on to be an artist. Inspired by Pablo Picasso and falling in love with other surrealist artists, over the years my artistic development and knowledge in the art world led me to teaching myself how to paint at the age of ten.
In school, there was always a kid who was labelled for something. No matter what class I was in, I was the kid who was known for having a pretty unique name. (Yes, I know my name means scissors and earth in Spanish) and being “the artist”. My life has never been easy, and there were many times that my artwork became the outlet I needed to get through it all. I used to hustle name drawings for $10 at lunchtime and sell candy and chips after school. In my childhood education years, I was brilliant, studying and being well versed in Black history, promoted from middle school as #1 in the entire school district, and graduated within the top 10% of my high school class.
I found interests and love for medicine, science, language, and elaborate theories, and would’ve taken the complete plunge to become a doctor, but my love for art truly became realized at the age of 17. I began working with tons of different media, from crayons and color pencils to acrylics and oils. I was rewarded for my accolades in high school art and district art competitions. I sold my art around my high school for $50 and higher and even painted my first mural at 29 feet long in youth church center. With my art and God keeping me stable, at 17, the visions I have now would just start to develop its foundations. At times, my life felt like it was tumbling, with the passing of my step-grandfather and news of my Iate aunt who was diagnosed with cancer, I was forced to make many decisions at a young age.
I was granted a large scholarship to go to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA, but without a substantial enough financial backing, I decided to go to California State University of Long Beach, becoming the first in my family to break the generational curse. It took some adjusting coming into a predominantly white institution, not understanding what and who I am as an artist. Over the course of my 4 1/2 years at CSULB, I found the strifes of life more than I could ever imagine in the forms of homelessness within my first year of college at 18, my mother relocating to South Carolina, and the passing of my wonderful friend Brianna Jenae Hill in 2016. I’ve experienced everything from grief to food insecurity and coming to grips with my own post-traumatic stress and anxiety. It hasn’t all been bad while adjusting to being a completely independent and working artist.
In 2017, I married the love of life, Mr. Quincy Williams, and he and I have broken so many stigmas about young Black love and inspired the work that I have developed today. My work, for a long time after Bri passed, was very focused on grief and personal. It wasn’t until I took notice of what the world in America has come to, and made it a very real thing in my life, that my work and actions at CSULB have taken such a strong turn. I haven’t let off the gas, so to speak, painting an 8×10 ft mural at the campus’ Multicultural Center, and curating and participating in the university’s FIRST and SECOND all- Black art shows on campus. My work, as it stands, focuses on re-appropriation based works that were normally seen and now considered famous pieces from different eras of art, but for now, the Renaissance.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was sexually assaulted at the age of ten, and from there, have struggled with post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety.
I was homeless at the age of 18, which coupled with my depressions, almost killed me and go through bouts of suicidal thoughts.
I can say that while I’m proud to be a young black woman just trying to make it in this world, it has not always been a smooth road, but these things that I’ve gone through allow me to connect to others and let them know that they’re not alone and that I see them if no one else will.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
As a businesswoman, I’m proud to say that I’m pretty well-versed in quite a few things. I draw and create anything and everything from etchings to tattoo designs (and will soon be picking up the gun). I paint of course and create portraits, custom commissions, and conversation pieces. I am a muralist and work with graphics as well. I am a photographer as well and create digital images as well as photobooks and creative shoots.
I specialize in the three, but wouldn’t want anyone to not count me out as a creative person in any sector. (face painting, makeup, cooking.) As a brand and a business, I’m most proud to have connected with little Black boys and girls, who’ve seen my work and want to be inspired by it, and take what they’ve seen as a call-to-action. What sets me apart from the rest is that I am multi-faceted, and juggle it well. I am an extremely passionate person when it comes to my work, and I want to connect with people and truly make them feel first and think second when observing my creations.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success by surpassing the goals that you continually set for yourself, and choosing to keep doing that. I set out from a young age to be where I am today, and I’ve kept those promises to myself. My go-getter attitude is what’s gotten me here, and is definitely a huge attribute to my success. So you’ve got to have drive.
Another marker is to always have faith. Faith in God, faith in yourself, faith to believe that things you were always guaranteed are always going to be for you, etc. You’ve got to have faith.
Success, nowadays, feels like its also measured by your peer’s perception of you. I think you should always have a strong team of people who will give you the real when you need it and not when you want it. They don’t make the decisions for you, but they will always support you and motivate you, and especially disagree with you when you need it.
- Promo! Now- Nov.30 Photo Session 2 hr $150
- Portrait Promo! Now-Dec 2 $100
- Website: tijeratheartist.wixsite.com/tijeratheartist
- Phone: (562) 841-8009
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @tijeratheartist
Tijera S. Williams