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Art & Life with TeMika Grooms

Today we’d like to introduce you to TeMika Grooms.

TeMika, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I guess my unique story is that I now own the fact that I am an “Artist-in-Recovery”. Let me tell you what I mean…. My family has many musicians, visual artists and creative folks, but most of them didn’t do it full-time. My mother was a teacher and librarian so she encouraged creativity. I started winning awards and was good at art at an early age, but I never wanted to be a starving artist. I decided instead that a creative, stable and safe route, was to be an engineer.

Still my desire to create never let go of me even though I chose a different path. After my first daughter was born, I was reminded how much I loved storytelling. Reading and making up stories with her reignited that creative passion and I started learning more about the craft.

But I had to figure out how to navigate being a mother – along with all my other titles – and embrace being an artist. The Superwoman notion is real in the art life. It inspired me to write a book called “Artista: Becoming Mother, Artist and Lover by Any Means Necessary”. I wrote it because I kept running into female artists trying to find their way. It’s not easy because people look at art as a hobby or pass time. Plus, we are underrepresented in the industry. There are always obstacles for every artist. But the biggest obstacles are always the ones we have to overcome from within.

My journey as an Artist-in-Recovery has proven to me that starving artists exist only because they need resources beyond money. Now I create illustrations, provide book design services, publishing and I heavily support the creation of books for kids, especially for children of color.

I looked backward into my childhood and found a gift waiting for me that I can share with others. One of the things I tell people now is, “If you have a passion, follow it. If you have a dream, chase it. That way you’ll never be lead down the wrong path.”

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Drawing art for children’s books has helped me to develop skills in visual storytelling. I am a fine artist and illustrator who loves to draw people. There is so much room for expression in the human form and I like to play around with translating body language without words. You can create a whole new layer to a story through the imagery in a book if it’s done well. But my main goal is to invoke emotion and hopefully create imagery and stories that empower the reader. It is important for children to see themselves reflected positively within the pages of a book.

A lot of authors reach out to me with stories they need to get out. I am very inspired when I get a well-written story that I know will teach a child to love themselves, see themselves as powerful and teach them what they can be in this world. The focus on diversity and inclusion makes that even more important. Every child should have a story that inspires them. That means that more of us need to bring our own stories to the table to be seen, heard and shared with children of all ages.

In terms of how I create, I will say I never went to school for art. I had a wonderful high school art teacher (shout out to Claudia Williams!) who taught me more than the fundamentals in art. I spent three years with her learning how to see and create, how to use traditional materials and how to render finished pieces. I’ve learned even more from books, workshops and my artist friends too.

Nowadays I do more digital work. The techie part really feeds me as an engineer. Beyond making revisions and design easier, it’s a whole new medium to learn about and I’m excited about the type of work that can be done. There are lots of stories brewing in my brain and I’m hoping to see my stories animated one day.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
I define success by the impact I provide on the lives of others. We should be a light in the world for other people. I value being an up lifter to other people. I like to support good ideas and good work. But you need resources to do that. So, on top of being a creative, I also want to inspire and support good work with action. Success as an artist to me means that you have the resources to make your dreams and visions come to life.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Buy Books! Children’s book illustration keeps me busy nowadays. That is one-way people can support the work and easily take something home to share. I’ll be doing a story time and selling books at the Kirkwood Library during the Kirkwood festival on May 19th. I also host meetups for those who may be interested in learning more about creating children’s books. You can find out more on my website at www.TeMikaTheArtist.com

The High Museum hosts the Monster Drawing Rally very soon and I’ll be there doing live drawing for this fundraiser to support the museum in purchasing local art for their collection. You may miss this event, but you can always find me around town presenting my fine art work at local events and galleries.

In September 2018, The Lit Story Fest will have storytelling on and poppin’ as we bring the page to the stage! I’m working with a team of business people, the City of Lithonia and the DeKalb County Library System to highlight literacy by providing entertainment in live performances, visual art and storytelling. Stay tuned to learn more about the Lit Story Fest http://www.litstoryfest.com/.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images created by TeMika Grooms

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