My first encounter with Takeia Marie happened randomly while attending New York Comic Con back 2012. A rap cipher gone wrong in the middle of the artist alley show floor. She nice with the pen in more ways than one. She can spit. And even though I embarrassed myself, it made that experience that much more memorable. How many people can honestly say that they met in this type of manner at Comic Book convention. Not many! But we’ve been chopping it up ever sense.
So when I reached out for an interview. This is what she had to say.
1) Introduce Yourself?
Takeia: I’m Takeia Marie and I’m an illustrator and designer currently based in NYC.
2) How is your personality reflected in your work?
Takeia: I think my work is a reflection of the things that I like and the things that influence me. When I was younger, a lot of my time was spent growing up between Long Island, Queens, and the Bronx and I think those experiences shaped the way that I draw. I remember family cook outs and going to school in Queens and Long Island, and playing video games, watching anime, and getting my first real taste of Hip-Hop music and culture in the Bronx. I think being in those different places is the reason I’m drawn to gritty art and graffiti, and why I enjoy drawing people of all kinds.
3) What do you believe is the importance of graphic design in the context of communication?
Takeia: I think design influences people every day, even in subtle ways they might not be conscious of. If I could tell a quick story — I remember being in a character design class once, where the instructor talked about the use of stereotypes in character design and even encouraged it on some level to quickly communicate something to the viewer. For example, a nerdy character might be designed as tall and skinny with big glasses, even though not all people who consider themselves nerdy look like that. But if you go back and watch a ton of cartoons you probably grew up on, you’ll find some stereotypical character design that is supposed to communicate how a certain group of people look and act. One of the worst examples I can think of are the Asian and black stereotypes from some of those old Looney Tunes episodes.
I think this is the importance of design. Graphic designers, illustrators, and artists, in general, have the power to communicate something to an audience and influence the way that audience consumes ideas. Designers have the power to change a person’s thinking for better or worse, through the images we put in front of them every day. Not to be cliche, but you know the old saying…with great power comes great responsibility.
4) What are some of your key achievements as an illustrator?
Takeia: I think the variety of projects that I’ve found myself working on is a key achievement for me that I’d like to expand on more. I’ve always been a person who just likes to draw and I get most excited about that when I can work on different things.
5) What is the average duration of an illustration project from the ideas stage to illustration completion?
Takeia: It really depends on the project, budget, deadline, things like that. I will say that most projects I’ve worked on, from beginning to end, take an average of 4-6 months. However, I’ve also worked on projects that start in the concept phase, then disappear for a while and come back later once the client has figured out some details on their end. So it all depends.
6) What or who influenced your style and career choice?
Takeia: Wow, I can think of so many things on this one. Well, I’ve always loved to draw and I can’t really say why. It was just something I always did and was drawn to. But I can say it was one of my cousins who sparked the idea in my head that illustration could be a career. I used to visit my cousins in the Bronx, and he’s the one that put me on to anime and comics and showed me that people actually draw and create things for a living. Ever since then, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
7) Taking your catalog into consideration, what do you feel is your best piece of work?
Takeia: The work I think I’m most proud of currently is the illustration and essay I did for Artists Against Police Brutality. It was done at a time when police brutality was part of the national conversation (even though it has always existed). It was just one illustration, but I was most happy with it because it was a part of a project that aimed to say something and do something about all the lives we’ve lost and continue to lose to police brutality.
8) What kind of obstacles have you had to overcome as a woman in this industry?
Takeia: Overall, I think I’ve had a good experience with most people, but I have run into some men who have a strange sense of entitlement just because you’re a woman who happens to be in a field they can relate to. For example, there’s been more times than I’d like to count where a man has contacted me under the guise of wanting a commission or some other illustration work done, and ends up asking me if I’m single. That’s what I mean…some people see you as a woman before they see you as a professional, and it’s something I’ve found myself having to navigate more than once.
9) Who’s your favorite Hero and Heroine? if you had their powers and or abilities, what would your alias be?
Takeia: Right now, it’s Mikasa from Attack on Titan and Saitama from One Punch Man. Saitama’s philosophy of training until your hair falls out is dope to me. Everyone wants to know the secret behind how he got so strong and his secret is just to work hard. I love Mikasa because she’s just good at what she does and she’s the best in her group, without any other pretense. She’s just really good. I don’t even think I would want powers, I would just want to be next level like that.
10) Let’s talk music for a minute. What’s your playlist look like?
Takeia: I knew this question was coming! As far as newer stuff, I’m still listening to Kendrick’s album and also Logic, who keeps finding a way to turn some of his darker subject matter into feel-good tracks, and I love that. Other than that, it’s a good mix of older and newer stuff…been listening to a lot of The Roots and Erykah Badu lately, but also Kaytranada, Syd’s solo stuff, The Internet in general, and H.E.R. Still bumping some tracks from T.I’s “Us or Else” and a couple from J. Cole’s latest. Also been listening to my friend iSojah and Rapsody and Kemba in general. I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff I’m forgetting to mention, lol.
11) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Takeia: My dad always told me to never tell anyone they can’t do something, and that’s advice I’ve always taken to heart. Never tell anyone that they can’t achieve something, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t either.
12) Do you have any Up and Coming projects? So what’s next for Takeia Marie?
Takeia: I’m currently working on another children’s book and The Okun is still in the works with a writer, Robert Jeffrey.
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