Browse Tag

Art - Page 2

3 mins read

National Museum of African American History and Culture to acquire Ebony and Jet Archives

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will acquire a significant portion of the archive of the Johnson Publishing Company, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. The acquisition is pending court approval and the closing of the sale.

A consortium of foundations—the Ford Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—is making this acquisition possible. The consortium will transfer the archive to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Getty Research Institute.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The archive, purchased at auction for $30 million, includes more than four million prints, negatives, and media that explored, celebrated and documented African American life from the 1940s and into the 21st century.

“It is a distinct honor for the museum to be invited to join the Getty Research Institute and other leading cultural institutions to safeguard and share with the world this incomparable collection of photographs,” said Spencer Crew, acting director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“We applaud the generosity of the consortium of foundations that made this acquisition possible.  And we pay homage to the vision of John H. Johnson and his commitment to bringing to the nation and the world, the story of the African American experience—in all its complexity and all its richness. Ebony and Jet were the only places where African Americans could see themselves. They were the visual record of our beauty, humanity, dignity, grace, and our accomplishments.

“Being the steward of the archive is an extraordinary responsibility, and we are humbled to play a critical role in bringing new life to these images. With the depth of its curatorial expertise and the technical skills in digitization, the Museum stands ready to marshall its forces to make this archive accessible to the widest possible audience.  We are honored to work with our recipient colleagues to make this gift to the nation possible.”

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Museum has built a distinctive photography collection that includes more than 25,000 prints, negatives, and photographic materials. Photographers represented in the collection include Anthony Barboza, Cornelius M. Battey, Arthur P. Bedou, Bruce Davidson, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Danny Lyon, Jack Mitchell, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Gordon Parks, P. H. Polk, Addison Scurlock, Lorna Simpson, Aaron Siskind, James Van Der Zee, Carrie Mae Weems, and Ernest Withers.

Read more about this acquisition on the Smithsonian website.

2 mins read

New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center Acquires Collection of Fab 5 Freddy

Some 120 boxes of archived notebooks, screenplays, fliers, and photography from the collection of hip-hop legend Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite are headed to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Fab 5 Freddy

More than half the materials in the archive are audio and video, though also included in the acquisition are photographs by Brathwaite—candid snapshots of rap icons such as Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and P. Diddy.

Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite is a rapper, producer, and filmmaker who emerged in New York’s downtown scene during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. He went on to be the host of MTV’s popular music program, Yo! MTV Raps.

Fab 5 Freddy
Fab 5 Freddy and Jean-Michel Basquiat

In a statement, Brathwaite said, “Growing up in Bed-Stuy [in] Brooklyn, our home was full of books and periodicals, as my dad was a ferocious reader.” He recalled visiting the Schomburg at his father’s suggestion. There, he came across “books by and about people like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, J.A. Rogers, and one of my favorites as a kid, a book called Harlem on My Mind, filled with photos and stories on the history of Black Americans living in Harlem.”

Highlights from his collection include VHS recordings of rap music videos, three screenplays, and countless handwritten notes of ideas. Brathwaite continued, “Knowing my archive will be at the Schomburg, now and forever, is both gratifying and very humbling.”


Source: ART News

Feature Image: The Source

1 min read

Black Owned Art Galleries & Museums You Should Know

Hello Art Lovers! We’ve compiled a list of Black owned art galleries located across the country and some internationally. Be sure to check them out. #BlackArtMatters

Black Owned Art Galleries

Hammonds House Museum (Atlanta, GA)

black owned galleries

Rush Arts Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA)

The Museum of African American Art (Philadelphia, PA)

The Colored Girls Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

Black Owned Art Galleries

Northwest African American Museum (Seattle, WA)

The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum (Culver City, CA)

Woodcuts Fine Art Gallery (Nashville, TN)

Benoit Gallery (Lafayette, LA)

Essie Green Galleries (New York, NY)

The Studio Museum (New York, NY)

Black Owned Art Galleries

MoCADA, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (Brooklyn, NY)

Black Owned Art Galleries

California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA )

The William Grant Still Arts Center  (Los Angeles, CA)

Gallery Chuma (Charleston, SC)

Lybenson’s Gallery (Beaufort, SC)

Sabree’s Gallery of the Arts (Savannah, GA)

Annie’s Art Gallery (Upper Marlboro, MD)

Stella Jones Gallery (New Orleans, LA)

Black Owned Art Galleries

Jonathan Green Studios (Charleston, SC)

E&S Gallery (Louisville, KY)

Black Owned Art Galleries

Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Seattle, WA)

ZuCot Gallery (Atlanta, GA)

Terrance Osbourne Gallery (New Orleans, LA)

Nike Art Gallery (Lagos, Nigeria)

Berj Art Gallery (Labone, Ghana)


-Tony O. Lawson


1 min read

Black Owned Stationery Businesses You Should Know

Although it seems that nowadays, most communication is done via technology, there’s still a large number of people who have a preference for dope stationery that can be used for work, school, and special events.

Check out these Black owned stationery businesses if you’re tryna get that paper.

Black Owned Stationery Businesses

Entrepreneurs Color Too


Bliss & Faith

Coco’s Vision


JD& Brooklyn

Keynote Stationery

Maker’s Ave

Mariposa Studios

MJ & Hope

Naomi Love Designs

Oh So Paper Co.

Page Eleven Paper Goods

Pristine Paperie

QT Planner Co.


Black Owned Stationery Businesses

Shays Budget Shop

Simply Me Kish

Tawana Simone

The DynaSmiles by DNT

The Jewel Box

CRWND Illustrations

Goldmine & Coco (feature image)

Black Owned Stationery Businesses


-Tony O. Lawson

If you would like to add your business to this list (or another) SUBMIT HERE.

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter


3 mins read

Philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown donate $3.5 million to the Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced Friday that philanthropists Eddie and Sylvia Brown are giving the organization $3.5 million to endow the position of chief curator.

Eddie and Sylvia Brown

The couple’s gift will provide a new way of paying for the post of the museum’s chief curator, the person responsible for overseeing the BMA’s 95,000-item collection and for supervising the museum’s curators, conservators and registrars. The position replaces the former job of deputy director of curatorial affairs role that was held until last summer by Jay Fisher.

Amy Sherald’s Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between (2018)

Asma Naeem, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, was appointed chief curator last August. Before coming to the BMA, Naeem was a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. Fisher is now director of Matisse studies at the museum.

Now that the chief curator position is endowed, the funds previously allocated to paying Naeem’s salary and other expenses of that job can be freed for other operating expenses, according to a museum spokeswoman.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

The Browns previously have given major gifts to other Baltimore-area cultural institutions, including to the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where the media studies building bears their name.

Eddie Brown founded Brown Capital Management, a Baltimore investment firm with more than $8 billion in assets under management. With his wife, Sylvia, he established a foundation in their names that focuses on improving lives in inner-city Baltimore.

In a museum news release, the couple said their most recent gift was inspired by museum director Christopher Bedford’s efforts to make the BMA more diverse and inclusive.

“In recent years, the museum’s commitment to excellence has been joined with a vision to examine and present a more fulsome picture of art history, giving a platform to those artists that have previously been underrepresented or left entirely out of our cultural dialogues,” the Browns said in a joint statement.

“With the appointment of Dr. Naeem … this seemed the perfect moment to expand our support for the museum.”


Source: The Baltimore Sun

4 mins read

World’s Largest Museum dedicated to Black Civilizations opens in Senegal

After 52 years of waiting, Senegal is finally opening what has been described as the largest museum of Black civilization in the capital, Dakar.

With close to 14,000 square metres of floor space and capacity for 18,000 exhibits, the new Museums of Black Civilizations is already capable of competing with the National Museum of African American History in Washington.

The exhibition halls include Africa Now, showcasing contemporary African art and The Caravan and the Caravel, which tells the story of the trade in human beings – across the Atlantic and through the Sahara – that gave rise to new communities of Africans in the Americas.

“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

These diaspora communities – such as in Brazil, the United States and the Caribbean – are recognized as African civilizations in their own right.

Since the museum could contain works owned by France since colonization, Senegal’s culture minister has called for the restitution by France of all Senegalese artwork on the back of a French report urging the return of African art treasures.

Visitors look at exhibits at the newly inaugurated Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Apart from suffering from the negative consequences of colonialism, Africans have had to negotiate for the return of valuable historical cultural artifacts that were smuggled out of their countries.

These priceless monuments, which symbolize African identity are currently scattered across the world, with an impressive number in British and French Museums.

This striated kifwebe mask hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Many African countries have called for the return of these treasures but are yet to receive any positive response from these western countries, which are making huge sums of money from these objects, with some even insisting that they were obtained legally.

The museum has a pan-African focus with pieces from across Africa and the Caribbean

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that his country will return 26 artifacts taken from Benin in 1892. The thrones and statues, currently on display at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, were taken during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.

Senegal’s late president Leopold Sedar Senghor was the first to propose the idea of a museum about the civilizations of black Africa during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.

In December 2011, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation stone in the capital Dakar but works were suspended during a political change until the subsequent leader, Macky Sall set the project rolling between December 2013 and December 2015.

The museum was built in part to a $34.6 million donation from China.


Source: BBC

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter

Get your SHOPPE BLACK apparel!

8 mins read

10 Tips For Photographing Darker Skin Tones

No, you’re not crazy: photographing darker skin tones, like mine, is harder than photographing lighter ones. Before anyone goes and reports me for reverse racism, which isn’t a thing, lets talk about this in purely technical terms.

From the 1950s well into the 1980s, Kodak, the standard in film processing, provided photo labs with “Shirley cards,” photos meant to be used to calibrate skin tones and light levels for photo printing.

There were many “Shirleys” over the decades (the name came from the original model)—but as you might assume, they were all fair-skinned Caucasian women. So unless you processed your own images, they were developed to best complement light skin—no matter the skin tones or hues in your photos. Further, the dynamic range of Kodak film was biased toward lighter skin.

Kodak “Shirley cards.”

This created a situation in which photos of people with darker skin, especially photos with both lighter and darker skin tones in them, were very difficult to expose properly. In an NPR interview, photographer Syreeta McFadden explained, “A lot of [the design of film and motion technology] was conceived with the idea of the best representation of white people.

And I don’t mean to say that it was a deliberate and exclusionary practice, but [it was] much more of a willful obliviousness, if you will. So color film in its early stages pretty much developed around trying to measure the image against white skin.”

Thankfully, that is less of an issue now. Technology has gotten better (although there have been some problems along the way). Color film and digital color sensors don’t butcher darker skin tones anymore (hooray!), but we aren’t totally out of the woods yet. If, like me, you love to use older film presets or if you just want to photograph a range of subjects, you need to be cognizant of the default toward lighter skin and how to correct it.

With that in mind, a question remains: What is the best way to photograph darker skin tones? Like a softbox or a white wall, lighter skin picks up and reflects light rather easily. This helps photographers better capture it with low levels of flash or in low-wattage light. Darker skin, however, isn’t as reflective, so how you light your subjects and choose backgrounds must change, to consciously and successfully light people with darker skin.


1. For a photo including people with different skin tones, place your primary light source closer to the subject with darker skin. Note that if you do this, you may have to burn a little in post to make sure the subjects with lighter skin aren’t too bright.

This isn’t to say that you should blow out their skin or use only one light source. If you are shooting outdoors, bring in a reflector or have your darker-skinned subject interact in closer proximity to the light source.


2. Be conscious of undertones. Darker skin has undertones, just like lighter ones do. As you choose environments for portraiture, look for complementary colors that work well with the undertones for a soothing portrait, or contrasting or clashing ones for a more provocative look.

For example: I leaned into Jihaari’s skin’s orange undertones by placing him in compositional opposition to a sign with similar colors (left photo). And you can see how the subtle inclusion of red in the setting of the photo on the right goes smoothly with Kelechi’s undertones.

3. Keep lighting off the walls for a more cinematic feel—you want to create depth with your imagery. Using varying stages of light allows you to have a more dynamic frame.

Use a hair light. Don’t rob your subjects of the complexity and detail in their hair by not lighting it properly. This makes sense for everyone whose hair is dark. Make sure your have light that appropriately frames your subject’s hair.

4. Use a hair light. Don’t rob your subjects of the complexity and detail in their hair by not lighting it properly. This makes sense for everyone whose hair is dark. Make sure your have light that appropriately frames your subject’s hair.

5. Embrace the beauty of a well-lit silhouette and how it drapes light around darker skin features.

This image (below) is a favorite of mine. In low light, I will often opt for a silhouette, using the strongest light to kiss the edges of someone’s visage. It gives an effect of mystery and grandeur.


6. Employ the Highlights slider in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC or Curves adjustments in Photoshop CC to create soft contrast across darker skin. Even light looks magical on darker skin tones; it provides tonality and detail.

7. Harsh light is more forgiving, yes, but reflective light is your best friend. Use that to your advantage. Bouncing light or using diffusers reveals the complexity of facial features.

8. Resist the urge to lighten someone up…. I’ll say it again for the folks in the back: Properly lighting dark skin is not the same as dodging dark skin in Photoshop.

9. If you have multiple skin tones, set the median and use Photoshop’s Dodge tool and Burn tool to help you out. This is something you want to employ only if you have just one light source—for instance, if you’re shooting outdoors and have no way to soften the light. If this is the case, shoot each subject properly exposed so you have a digital example of what their skin tone is like, and then use Photoshop to closely achieve that.

10. With skin tones in general, pay attention to the background you’re using. Don’t tuck darker-skinned subjects against dark backgrounds unless you’re going to light them separately.



As we slowly march to a more racially equitable future, it’s imperative that we know how to light various skin tones properly to give them the visibility they deserve. Study the work of artists who do a great job lighting various skin tones and where the light they use is coming from. That’s what helped me on my journey to being a better artist.


By Aundre Larrow

Photographs by Aundre Larrow. Visit his portfolio site to see more of his work

8 mins read

The Carters “APES**T” challenges art history’s erasure of Black culture

The Carters blessed stans everywhere when they released their joint album, Everything Is Love, on June 16th. Rumors had been circulating about the prospect of a collaborative effort for a while, with neither Beyoncé or Jay-Z confirming or denying it.

Ultimately, the duo rolled out the album unexpectedly (which has become their preferred method of expression), surprising both the world and the London audience of their On The Run II tour.

The album is headed by the single, “APESHIT,” which comes with a 6-minute long music video that shows the Carters as we’ve seen them before — madly in love, wealthy, and happily putting their own spin on an ancient institution.

This time around, they took over the famous Louvre museum in Paris and made it their property in the Ricky Saiz-directed visual. Jay-Z specifically has used music and music videos to speak about his relationship with fine art before. In 2017’s “The Story of O.J,” he talks about buying million-dollar art, watching its value increase, and eventually giving it to his children.

It is clear that he understands art’s worth (from a financial and emotional standpoint) and views it as a medium that will make his family’s lives better, and “APESHIT” brought The Carters’ relationship with fine art to new heights.

The Carters’ video begins with a Black angel, which is a holy figure that older European art lacks. Archangels like Gabriel (the entity responsible for telling the Virgin Mary her destiny) and Michael (a fierce fighter who expelled Lucifer from heaven in the Bible) are often shown as white men.

The inclusion of a Black angel reminds the world that Black people have always had their own ideas of God and spirituality.

Sadly, Black religions have been demonized and are often persecuted, as though white people cannot stomach religious interpretations that don’t focus on them and their accounts. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s chosen imagery challenges this white-centric ideology.

“APESHIT” was shot in and outside of the historic Louvre, which was once a palace and is now the largest museum in the world. By choosing a location that is directly linked to royalty and international art, the power couple crowned themselves as the worldwide king and queen of popular music.

Their proclamation of Blackness — which is unfiltered and not subdued in any way throughout “APESHIT” — in an often inaccessible space like the Louvre is a statement in itself.

the carters

Black art curators like Kimberly Drew (also known as @museummammy) are working to create a culture where “more marginalized people enter institutions, learn the rules, and shatter and restructure them,” as she tells Brooklyn Magazine. These barriers in the art world relate to how art is sometimes taught (and created) solely from a white perspective.

I studied art the entirety of my time in public school, and I don’t remember learning about non-white artists and non-white artistic styles. We weren’t taught art history from a Black/POC point of view, and definitely didn’t get many chances to see Black faces as artists or the focus of art.

“APESHIT” helps destroy the notion that fine art and its consumption is for white people.

Black people have long contributed to art, even though people have gone out of their way to ignore that fact (some people would actually rather credit the construction of the pyramids to aliens). The Carters are making — as well as honoring — history (in a world class location like the Louvre, no less) by crafting art and showing it to be, at its core, for Black people.

As far as how the Louvre’s exhibits intersect with the individual shots in the music video, art scholar Heidi Herrera wrote an excellent breakdown of the various symbols on Twitter.

Vox writer Constance Grady pointed out another detail on Twitter, explaining that the portrait spotlighted at the end of “APESHIT” is “Portrait of a Black Woman (Negress)” by Marie-Guillemine Benoist, “one of the only pre-20th [century] portraits of a black person in the Louvre that’s not explicitly a portrait of a slave.”
“Portrait of a Black Woman (Negress)” by Marie-Guillemine Benoist.
There is this gross assumption that one of the only ways we can discuss Black people in art and history is by portraying slavery. Many Black people are tired of this characterization, and it is stimulating to see a Black woman represented as something other than a slave.
Perhaps one of the most stunning moments in “APESHIT” comes at the 2:14 mark. We see two Black women wearing durags and sitting back to back underneath “Portrait of Madame Récamier” by Jacques-Louis David.

The presence of durags in museums is not foreign considering that Solange wore one to the 2018 Met Gala. But this time we get to see the headpiece as a part of the art itself.


“APESHIT” is the ultimate “fuck you” to white supremacy. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are saying, “We made it, and we’re helping our people make it, too.” The video’s reference to police brutality (symbolized through the recreation of NFL players kneeling), Beyoncé’s decision to rap (a Black art form that is synonymous with rebellion), and the chance to turn the Louvre into a place to thrash make the video that much richer.

Black people have had to see their artistic backstory erased and reimagined by white people over and over again. But if the Carters have anything to do with it, that time is coming to an end. SALUD!


Source: Brooklyn White for Hello Giggles

4 mins read

How Artist Derrick Adams Learned About Freedom From ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book

On a recent wintry morning, the multimedia artist Derrick Adams was sitting in his cozy basement studio in Brooklyn talking about distant cities and faraway times. “It’s like reading a fairy tale book.

I see the names of beauty schools and men’s clubs and taverns, and I think, ‘What does that place look like?’”

Derrick Adams
Derrick Adams at his studio in Brooklyn with elements from his new show, “Sanctuary,” at the Museum of Arts and Design. Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

Mr. Adams was referring to the establishments listed in the “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a series of AAA-like guides for black travelers published from 1936 through 1966, and the inspiration for “Derrick Adams: Sanctuary,” an immersive installation opening at the Museum of Arts and Design (known as MAD) on Jan. 25.

In his collages and immersive installations, Mr. Adams uses fabric and wallpaper to suggest roads and car doors. A steering wheel was made from a hat brim. Credit Terrence Jennings/The Museum of Arts and Design

Widely used at a time when African-Americans were navigating physical and social mobility through the swamp of Jim Crow laws and attitudes in the mid-20th century, the Green Books, as they came to be known, listed businesses from gas, food and lodging to nightclubs and haberdasheries that welcomed African-Americans when many did not.

A collage in progress in Mr. Adams’s studio melds a modernist grid with vintage-looking fabric in a brick pattern that elicits the old establishments, building facades and travel. “I’ve thought a lot about barriers, and accessibility, and obstacles, and perseverance,” the artist said. Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

While they reflect a disturbing reality of American history, the books also offered the hope of partaking in the American dream. “They enabled African-Americans to travel like Americans and to feel American,” the artist said.

“Beacon,” 2017, by Derrick Adams, suggests the welcome after a long day of driving. Credit Derrick Adams Studio

Recognized internationally for his kaleidoscopic explorations of the black experience, Mr. Adams, 47, who is African-American, is the first major visual artist to use the Green Books as a creative point of departure.

MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 02: Derrick Adams attends Interview & Cadillac Celebrate Art of Daring at Maps Backlot on December 2, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

For him, they are not only a Civil Rights artifact and instrument of social change, but also a fascinating record of black leisure time and the built environment — subjects that are continuously percolating in his work.

Read the rest at the New York Times

11 mins read

Ancient Modern: Designer Hadiya Williams on Her Work and Inspiration

In 2018, we’re launching a new section: Aesthetics + Design. Our love of architecture, the arts and timeless design is married to our commitment to supporting the brilliant creatives that produce the work that adds value and beauty to our lives. Featuring architects, curators, artists, creators and makers, we’re excited to celebrate those most visually talented amongst us. Additionally, we’ll be sharing inspiration from homes and spaces that inspire.

For our inaugural feature, we sat down with Washington, D.C. based designer, Hadiya Williams, whose design has left in indelible mark on our lives, literally and figuratively. She was the mastermind behind our gorgeous wedding invitations for the #BlackestWeddingEver bka the ORIGINAL Jolloff and Jambalaya. (Believe it or not, some people actually stole our hashtag. Can you imagine?) But I digress.  She also recently completed a few larger scale projects in our Philadelphia home that was featured on HGTV’s Sneak Peek with AphroChic.

Check out what Hadiya had to say about her own personal aesthetic and process and look forward to more gorgeous inspiration to come.

Shantrelle P. Lewis

SB: Where are you from and how did you start working in design?

HW: I was born and raised in Washington, DC. I started designing while I was attending Bowie State University. I decided to take some computer graphics classes for an elective. I fell in love with the class and continued to teach myself how to use the design software. I eventually received by BFA in Graphic Design from Columbia College in Chicago.

SB: HBCU LOVE! And shout out to Columbia College. The Museum of Contemporary Photography(MoCP), on Columbia’s campus where Dandy Lion was on view in 2014, was one of the best things that ever happened to my career. Oh wait, you actually came to Chicago and saw the show there.

HW: I did! It was great to be back in the city. And of course, the exhibit was all of the things.

SB: Please describe what you do. How you self identify? As an artist? Designer? Creator?

HW: I would call myself all of the above. Depends on what I’m discussing or referring to. Ultimately, I am an artist. I know for a fact that what I do is art. I work intuitively most of the time. My work evokes emotion and very rooted in spirituality. Always has been.

SB: What inspired you to launch your 100 days of Black and white?

HW: I follow designer and book artist @eisroughdraft on IG. She shared a creative challenge, #The100DayProject with Elle Luna & The Great Discontent and I decided to do it. I was in a really tough space, creatively, at the time and thought the challenge would be a good way to help me focus and explore what I could do within that space. I had no idea how dramatic that release would be. I highly recommend a challenge like this where you do something for at least 21 days.

SB: What gave you gumption to start Black Pepper Paperie?

HW: #theblackestweddingever was the tipping point for me actually starting my business.  I did the invitation for this dope ass wedding which we all knew would be out of this world.

No one could have know just how amazing that experience would be. I came back from New Orleans in a completely different state of mind.

Before I left I was focused on working at my nonprofit gig and building up my position there. But I got back home and I knew I had to do work that I loved and that was exciting.

I began to plant the seeds for my stationery/event design business. Hence the “paperie” part of my name. I was pumped about that but there was still a part of it that I hadn’t figured out. I’m still learning and figuring out where this is going but it’s going definitely in the right direction.

SB: What are the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of owning your own business?

HW: The most challenging part about my business, so far is the learning. I have spent my career learning technical skills and design and being very focused with in the graphic design world.

Being an entrepreneur requires you to know so much more outside of art and design. That part is definitely challenging for me as a creative person. Like many artists, I just want to make shit.

The rewarding part, however, is the learning. Lol. Everyday I am faced with a new challenge. Creative and otherwise.

SB: Where do you pull inspiration? Who or what are your muses?

HW:  Black women. I am surrounded by an array of amazing, talented, dynamic women who guide me. They’re my muses. I’m also inspired by so many things around me. I have tons of design books, I go to vintage shops, thrift stores, outdoor markets, Pinterest.

I love West African art and design. It has always influenced my design thinking and the way I see.

SB: Tell me about your favorite personal/professional project?

HW: Ha! So, recently I painted designs on two walls in this home in Philly. Of course this is your home. That was something I hadn’t explored before and almost told myself that I wasn’t capable of. I consider it a favorite because it taught me that I have so much more work to do. And it reminded me that my work is spiritual.

I was inspired by the home itself and the history of the historically Black neighborhood, you and Tony’s roots in West African culture, and the open-minded spirit and boldness that you have.

Your curatorial work is bold and is all about taking risks. No one really thinks of home decor as risk-taking but it is the place where we are our most vulnerable and most comfortable. It says so much about who we are or at least it should. When people see our living space, if we are fortunate, it should tell them what we value most.

SB: Is there such a thing as a Black or African aesthetic?

HW: I think there is a thing that comes from Blackness that is innate, intuitive, not something that can be counted and measured. You know it when you see it and you actually feel the aesthetic, energetically.

I don’t think there is one specific aesthetic that is Black or African. I believe that we have a common aesthetic thread throughout the Diaspora.

The way we create music, dance, paint, and experience art in many forms, is connected. The evolved version of Black Americans is still connected to the Continent.

The same for the Caribbean. We all belong to each other. We consistently birth new art forms everyday. We are the cultural creators of the world.

SB: How would you describe your own personal aesthetic?

HW: Currently, my work is an amalgamation of West African cultural art, Black American cultural art and design, and early 20th century, western, abstract art and design that is essentially an appropriation or reinterpretation of West African art forms.

People who see my work tend to know or think they know it’s mine. So clearly I have an aesthetic, I have not found the words to describe it yet.

SB: What’s on your coffee table?

HW: A handmade vase from a fellow ceramics classmate, a book of matches, candle, my “genie bottle,” Dandy Lion by Shantrelle P. Lewis, Black Panther by Emory Douglas, Remix by AphroChic, The House Book, a Fire!! reprint, Black Society by Gerri Major, Taschen Publishing’s Logo Modernism.

SB: These days I’m becoming more and more selective about the kind of images I want to see in my social media fees. Who should we be following on IG? 

@BLKMKTVintage, @nicolecrowder, @justinablakeney, @andreapippins @ShoppeBlack, @nayyirahwaheed, @xnasozi, @tactilematter, @Afrominimalist @WalkieChatter, @ProfessionalBlackGirl and @Nachesnow. There are more but these are the first to come to mind.

SB: Lastly, what are tools that you can’t live without?

HW: My laptop.My cell phone (camera). #2 HB Pencils.

You can follow Hadiya on IG at @hadiyawilliams and @blackpepperpaperieco or visit to inquire about projects, to purchase items and for more information.