Kinfolk

Season 2, Episode 2: "Calling" with Temi Coker

April 27, 2021 Patrick Ngwolo
Kinfolk
Season 2, Episode 2: "Calling" with Temi Coker
Show Notes Transcript

Temi Coker is a visual artist and photographer, who is originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but calls Texas home. Temi’s parents brought him to this country to be an engineer, but he felt a call from God to work in  music and art. It wasn’t an easy road, but he’s put in the work.  As founder and director of Coker Studio, Temi has birthed a new genre of art design. His client list includes the likes of Apple, AT&T, the NBA, and he designed the visual elements for this year's Oscars (the Academy Awards). Join us as we talk to Temi about what it means to stay committed to your calling despite expectations, doubts, and isolation.

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Speaker 1:

Ken folk, what's going on? How are you doing PTL and Barlow here. I walk with you as a prepare you for this life and the life to come. I've got a special guest with us today, as we continue our conversation on calling, I have the artists extraordinary Tammy Coker. Yes, sir. What's going on PT? No, not much Tammy. Introduce yourself and what you do for we get it tomorrow. Yeah. My name is Tammy Coker. I'm a photographer and graphic designer based in Dallas, Texas. Um, I specialize, I would say in emerging photography and graphic design together telling stories through color, um, and you know, creating an artwork that uplifts the people in my community and people that look like me so they can see myself in their work man. Awesome. I want to go ahead and start with your kind of history and your background. Uh, where are you, where are you originally from? I'm originally from legacy Nigeria. I was born there and I moved, um, to Canada in 2003. And then I moved to, uh, Arlington, Texas in 2004, actually Fort worth. We moved to Fort worth first in 2004. Um, and we've been in Texas ever since. Okay. And so you went to high school in Texas, went to middle school, partly part of middle school and high school in Texas? Yeah. Okay. Okay. And then, uh, when you left, uh, when you left high school, where did you go? I went to the university of Houston where I met you and all of the amazing people in my life. Um, yeah, I went to U of H to study by American generic. Yeah. I like to get into that. I, you know, I I'll set this thing up. So why did you pick if it goes to our, uh, uh, issue of calling, but we'll get to like the big, broad, uh, a bigger, broader conversation about that, but, but why did you originally pick biomedical engineers? Yeah, man, uh, to make my parents happy, honestly, because initially I wanted to do music. I was like, Oh man, I want to go play for Chris Brown. I want to go pray for, or with or Franklin. I want to play for, uh, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, you know, all of these, I know there's a wide range, but I was, I was fine with look circular and worldly in a Christian artist at the time I was like, I just want to go on a concert and play and help, you know, create music for people's albums and stuff like that. And, um, my dad was like, you don't need to go to school for music. We didn't come to America for you to go do that. You know, you can, you can study music on the side while having a ma a good major. They'll bring food on your table. I was like, Oh, okay. Now I fought for it. But my dad said no. And so he said, find something else. I was, I wanted to go to UNT, to study music. Cause one of the best, um, in the state. And I, I saw biomedical engineering and I was like, Oh, robotic arms. They're moving. That's pretty. That's pretty cool. I'm to cook it. And so I did. And um, yeah, eight is it so mostly before we get to it, most people don't know that you're a musician. What do you play? And how long have you been playing it? Oh man. Uh, I've been playing since I was, uh, nine or 10. I remember my dad brought someone to teach me and my sister and yeah, I loved it because I know growing up, I realized there were always States. I was always trying to find ways to express myself and music gave me that outlet. And I was like, this is dope, you know? And yeah, I play, I've played a key he's um, I got better as I got older, when I moved to America, I got a lot better. Um, and there's actually a time in college. We should probably get to that later. But where I told my dad, I was switching my major, it wasn't happy. You're going to bad argument. And I just went upstairs to my bedroom. My piano was there and I just worshiped and prayed and played my heart away while cry. But it was, it was, it was very therapeutic. Yeah. So, uh, having this love for music, uh, probably not having this, uh, a passion for bio medical engineering. Now, now there's something I want to draw attention to eat. You were good at pretty much any subject that you would have picked up. Was that part of the issue in you trying to figure out what it was at you or at least wanting to make a decision about what you want it to do? Yeah. I was very, I was very scared. Um, growing up, I was never outspoken. I was like quiet guy. My sister was like the lion. I was like the little sheet. That's just like, just, I didn't want, I didn't want quarrels. I didn't like arguments. I didn't want to make people uncomfortable. So I would be okay with being on Kampala as they say. Yeah, exactly. No holla all. And um, yeah. And so, you know, the whole major thing, I just, I just kinda gave up and I was like, okay, fine by engineering. I was still play keys. I'll take my keyboard with me to college and I would just learn what I can. So then you get to, you get to college. Uh, when is the decisive moment for you that you decide biomedical engineering? Isn't it? I'm going to do something else? Probably. Probably halfway. No. Yeah. I'll probably say halfway during my first year. Um, actually, no, uh, the, the, the beginning of my second year, I was like, Nope, this is not for me. I remember science class. I wasn't doing well. I hated that class talking about mitochondria and all of the cells. And I was like, fam I don't, I don't care. You know, and I wasn't doing good in those classes. Um, I remember my GPA was like a 2.8 that semester, which is very bad. Um, because of one class that I got, like, uh, I got like a 70 in or something or maybe a 60 17. Um, and I was like, yeah, I have to, I have to switch. Like, I, I think I, I, I remember just realizing, like I can live my life to make other people happy. And what am I doing? You know, like if they, if, if my parents passed away, I would not know who I was because I was living my life for them. Wow. That's a, that's an interesting statement. Uh, if your parents had passed away, you wouldn't know who you were because you were living your life for them. So, uh, you make a decision to leave biomedical engineering. You don't go to music. Why? Hmm. That's that's a good question. Um, I don't know. I think, I think in college, um, I remember Dennis and other friends, Dennis Campbell and other friends came to me and were like, Hey, you have an eye. I was using the iPhone, 3g, taking pictures of people and like using different apps to just make weird things. And they were like, um, yeah, Tim, you have an eye. Like she look into getting the camera. That's what Dennis told me. And I was like, uh, I don't have the monies though. Okay. I'll help you find one that's cheap. So I think the camera was like 360 and I had$365 in my bank account. And Dennis was like, yo, I found the camera, um, is within your budget is at the store. I'll give you a discount so that you can afford it and blah, blah, blah. And I got it, you know, that December. And that was the same time I changed my major and I was broke, but I was so happy. I went back and made a video. Uh, I took pictures. I still have, like, I have my first album of pictures that I took on my Facebook. I had a Nikon D 3,100. That was my first. Wow. And then, so you take these pictures, you're posting on Facebook. What did you change your major to? Yeah, so I changed my major to digital media. I, uh, I saw something that, you know, gave me an, gave me like different outlets. So digital media, there was like photography, graphic, design, web design, printing, um, animation, I think in all of this, all of these different outlets. And I was like, okay, well, I'm just gonna go in and see which one, um, works for me. I was like, I'm pretty drawn to photography though. So I'm going to take those classes. But the funny thing is when I switched my major that following semester, I actually took two music classes. And even in my first semester in college, I took a music class music theory. And then the second one, I took like music theory to where we actually had to like read no, I think the first one was music history. And then music theory one, and that semester I took a music theory plus digital media classes. And I had a 3.7 GPA. And, and you know, of course people were like, people are like, Oh, you just take an easy classes. I remember someone was saying that I was like, no, I'm taking something that I love. And I'm serious about what do you mean the classes, you know? Um, but was crazy before I switched my major, you know, I had someone calling me my dad's friend from Canada. I was like, Tammy, I don't think it's God's will for you to switch your major right in your life. Yeah. I was like, I don't know who you are. You know, it was a big thing, you know, my mom, I think she just wanted peace. So she was like, and of course, like honoring my dad, she was on his side, but she's like, Timmy just it's just for years. And that's what people kept saying. It was just four years, just do it. And you can do whatever you want. That's like, what kind of life is that? As if you have four years as if you're promised four years. Exactly. And then I'm like, who's going to pay all of this stuff, you know, because after four it's crazy. Cause after I graduated, my dad still like, try to talk to me about like doing biomedical engineering as a master's. I was like, did you not get the memo? You know? And I told him, no, I was like, no, can't do that. So what was that conversation like when you change the major and you talk to your parents about it, uh, what was that conversation like? Oh, it was bad. It was bad. Um, not like physical bad or anything like that, but it just like, like verbally feeling

Speaker 2:

Like a disappointment feeling like,

Speaker 1:

Like alone. Cause I was like, man, what am I going to do? Me and my dad's relationship.

Speaker 2:

We weren't, we weren't really close. And so it just made things worse.

Speaker 1:

And I was like, I can't live my life for you. Like you had your time, you know what I'm saying?

Speaker 2:

You were an engineer now you're a pastor. You've made your choices. You've made your bed and you laid in it. Let me make, let me make my own bed and lay in it. And the thing was like, I wanted to own my own narrative. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I was tired of people owning my life in a sense, but my life story, you know, cause I was like, I don't know. I just,

Speaker 2:

It was this whole pride thing that came with the African cultures. We'll let go. My son is a doctor. My son is a nurse. My son is a biomedical.

Speaker 1:

I'm like there has to stop. Like my son is

Speaker 2:

Whatever he wants to be a non-private him

Speaker 1:

Type of thing, you know, type of support. And um, you know, yeah. It's crazy. That stuff I went through, I don't know how I came out saying, you know what I'm saying? Like, cause I, but I realized

Speaker 2:

That the stuff that, and I don't know if it was

Speaker 1:

You or someone at a good hope told me this too. Like the things that you're going through, no, you had a sermon, um, on a Thursday night and I think you were like, you know, the things

Speaker 2:

That you're going through is not for you, but it's

Speaker 1:

To help other people now it's like now like, okay, God, I don't know what you're doing, but if this is to help someone else, I'm going to continue and go through it. And that gave me the courage to continue. Cause there were times I just wanted to like quit. I remember those this semester, my me and my dad, we didn't talk like literally I like me telling him I switched my major. He was already in Nigeria and I emailed him. It's like induce, like you're not going to do it. I was like, yes, I am like, it's already done. You know what I'm saying? Um, and we didn't talk relationship was, it was worse. Don't pretend I talked with my mom at the time. She was just telling people like, what am I like, what am I

Speaker 2:

I'm going to tell my friends that my son is studying camera. And I was like, mom,

Speaker 1:

No. You know, but yeah, it was, it was, it was, uh, it was a, it was a hard time and it felt lonely. I think like the only people that I really had was like you guys from church and like

Speaker 2:

The first couple of pictures I took, like, you guys allowed me to bring my camera to church on Sunday and just take pictures. I have a picture of you, a picture of Xi'an and I would picture him,

Speaker 1:

I'll put your mic. I have a picture of Chad, you know how to picture of everyone. And because of those pictures, I realized I loved portraits of people. And like, I can go back to that album and see the pictures I took. I still remember it. Like I remember, uh, Sola and I came to Dallas, uh, for Christmas that December. And we went out to go eat and I brought my camera and I took a picture of them eating. And I was just like, I just love taking pictures of people, you know? And it evolved, man, this is, so this is so rich, man. I, so, so, uh, just for, for our audience sake, uh, we were part of the founding staff that started a church plant called resurrection Houston, uh, back in, uh, 2013, 2014 time period. And you were, uh, our, one of our resident artists. And so, um, man, just bridging into this conversation about calling, did you, do, did you feel a sense that you were called to do what you were doing and why? Yeah, I do, because I remember specifically one night I can never forget. And this was in my, this was in my, um, dorm room. Um, this is sort of five and switch my major. I was on the floor. I was crying. I was like, God, I can't do this. Like I was depressed. I was like, what kind of life is this? I'm like, I'm crying right now. My parents over there chilling, waiting for me to graduate in biomedical engineering degree, you know? And I was like, God, I can't do this. And I remember in the background, Melly musicals, plane, um, I find them with a song. Uh, it was like, Lord, if I could buy you a gift, blah, blah, blah, blah, that song. And um, yeah, I was just crying on the floors that God gave me the courage because I can't do this anymore. And I want an out, but I'm scared because I don't know what's going to happen. Like my parents are paying for my school fees and all of that stuff. What if it stops? And I vividly remembered this feeling and almost want to say, like, I just feel that the Holy spirit of God was talking to me in that time of like, I take care of my own. And that night there was a switch. I like, well, Yolo, you know what I'm saying? I was like, if this is what God is telling me, like, why should I be scared? Like, it's going to be hard. I'm going to have nights. I'm going to be crying, but God got me, you know? And it's crazy. Cause that was that same semester. There was a, um, in may go man, after God's own heart that I would start out with, go to on-campus. I think solo was preaching and one of the titles was, God got me. And I was like, well, all right, let's do this. And um, that was the same semester. I, um, talked to my parents about switching my major. So 20, 2012, yeah, 2012, um, spring. That was when I wasn't by an ma uh, I was a digital media major. So, um, when you hear the word calling, what does that mean to you in light of the fact that you come from a family of preachers you yourself? I know, uh, have a gift to orally communicate. You can play the instruments. Uh, no one would normally think that, uh, Oh, okay. He's gonna be like his father and follow his footsteps in the ministry. What does, when you hear calling, what does that mean to you? Man? When I hear calling, I, I think of like, I think of purpose and I think of gifts and you know, people, people were probably thinking I was going to be a preacher or whatever. And I was like, look, I don't like talking, you know, I don't like, um, I'm an introvert. I don't like talking, I overthink things. And I was like, yeah, I'm not, I'm not doing that. But, so music was a way for me to talk it, the weight for me to convey a feeling was away from me to allow people to understand how I'm feeling or what I wanted them to feel or you know, all of these different things. And yeah. And so I feel like, I feel like calling to me is about it's about purpose and, and the gift. And I feel, I feel encouraged that there's nothing you can do in this world to block your calling. If God has already planned it for you, man, you know, you can mess up, it can take longer, you know, but if, if God has something planned for you, like there's nothing, the devil, nothing that you can do to squash that. And I feel like God had this plan for me. I've always known, I went to work for myself. I just never knew when or how and if it would happen, but I've just always remember having that feeling like yo, I'm not trying to work under somebody every time. Like I want to have my own schedule, um, and things like that. So man, so, uh, you're, you're very talented. You have talents in various areas. You're welcome. How did you land upon the fact that this is what God does? Often we have gifts and we're gifted in various areas and it can sometimes be confusing. I know this for me. Am I called to this or am I just good at it? Right. Yeah. I think, you know, I think of the Bible verse that talks about whatever you do do to the glory of God. And I feel like when that becomes your mindset, you are eventually going to find out what your calling is. I think we get lost on what our calling is. When we start focusing on, is this going to get me out of this job and making work for myself? Is this gonna give me monetary? Um, whatever. Like once the focus starts to shift, then all of these gifts now become like a side income type of thing. Right? And so for me, I always tell people like you're calling by beats, continue being at your job. You know what I'm saying? But people, people, um, don't want to hear that. Right? They want to believe that their calling is to be an entrepreneur and is like, look, if God says, you're not going to be an entrepreneur, there's nothing in this world you can do to become an entrepreneur. You know, if God says, you're not going to have 300,000 followers on Instagram, there's literally nothing you can do, you know, um, to get there. And so it's like stop fighting and just be faithful with the gift that God has given you and let God do the rest. You know? Like I, I like even, even until today, even in college, I still played music. I was still trying to like get into the music industry. I joined Goodhope I was under Chad Raleigh learning how to play keys, Dr. Chad Brawley. Right. And I was like trying to learn how to play the organ. And he was teaching me and I was learning how, like, it was good hope that took my musical understanding to another level. Because before that I could only play on one key, which is the key a seat. And then I remember, okay, I heard about so high, so high. They like read, read the key there, but why do you take that high? Right. And, and you know, I remember it wasn't the first semester Taylor burrows was there. We, uh, um, Chad Brolly had like a tryout for the church. I came, Taylor told me about it. So I went and um, I played, it was like, Oh, that's, that's nice. And he was like, can you play this song? And I think he started singing and I'm over here trying to transpose to find the key. So I'm pressing C and I'm present transpose to find the key. He's like, what are you doing? You know, Chad is like, what, what are you doing? I was like, trying to find the keys. Like he's got like dog ears is like, he's like, nah, he was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Are you telling me the only key United play on his? See as like, yes. He said, no, no, no, no. I like you have potential by needed to go back and go practice all the other 12 keys, come back to me. You know? And so I did, I went, I went on YouTube. I was like, okay. All right. So this is how it works. Okay. Here's the number system. Okay. Because I was watching them on Sundays and they're talking numbers, they're playing and he's like this. And I'm like, what is, what are they, what are they saying? You know? So I learned it and I was like, Oh shoot, this is like another tear because we're African songs is just the same pepper rhythm, same chords. Almost like CCM. No. And I was like, nah. And so when I came to a good hope and I start to learn the Baptist roots of things, jazz R and B blues, I was like, dang. So this is what music is like. And not that African music, wasn't good. But this is like, this is what understanding the possibilities of music is like, right. Cause I still play African songs. But now with the understanding of like jazz and blues and Baptist, I'm able to like bring that into African songs to make things a little different, you know? And so, so it doesn't always sound redundant or the same. Right. But, but that is where I got a lot of my music stuff from. And even like I tell people before I die, I wanna like do a thing called Temi and friends where I find a studio with some friends, we make some songs, it could be instrumentals, it could be friends singing. And then I would design the cover, do the whole art direction for it. Maybe do an exhibition where each of the, each of the songs has, uh, artwork related to it. You know? So I was like that, those are the things that we gotta do that now, what are we waiting for? I know. I literally have, I literally have no excuse. I just kept pushing it. But I just always told people, like, I've always thought about this Tammy and friends. Like, I don't care about the money. I just want to be able to do something. Like I would probably put it up on SoundCloud or if I'm able to even put it on Spotify or Apple music, like for free. Like, I would love to do that. Cause I, I have too many musician friends to not do something like this. Oh, it's crazy. Um, so have you, have you ever wanted to give up going this direction of art if you ever wanted to give up? Yes. Um, in fact, uh, when I was teaching, I was like, man, I want to work for myself, but I was shooting weddings. I was known for weddings back then. And I was like, if I quit, the only way I'm going to make money to survive is if I only shoot weddings. Right. I haven't, I haven't, I haven't been getting those bigger gigs. Um, so I almost got on autopilot, so I was just, just teaching before you get to get into it. I forgot. I forgot. We, we need to, so you left college and then, uh, graduated in digital media. He started working at a school in Arlington? Uh, yes, my old, my old high school. So my old teachers are still there, which is crazy. Okay. And what were you teaching? I was teaching photography and design. Okay. So then go ahead. Yeah, I went, I went back to teach because I wanted to inspire the younger generation to let them know that it's possible to have this type of thing as a career. Um, even though I didn't fully have that as a career because I was teaching, I wanted to inspire them. Cause I was like, no one told me I could do this in, um, high school, you know? And so I was teaching ninth through 12th and it was, it was a lot of fun. I got to talk to parents. I'm like, Oh my mom does dad think I can have a career in this? But I, we heard about your story and I want to show them all of this stuff. And I was able to talk to parents to convince them, to let their kid like be in my class. Um, but yeah, it was, it was a lot of fun. It was very rewarding. Teaching will teach you teaching high school kids or really teaching in general, we'll teach you how you are towards God. And I say that because as a teacher, I had to be patient, I had to be loving. I had to be attentive. Um, and I could be all of these things to the kids and they could still do something wrong. Right. And it was just like, it was like a mirror. I was like, I don't remember why it hit me like that. I was like, man, these kids are so starving. I just felt, I was like, but so are you, you know, it just, it was, it was crazy. And it was very humbling because it's like now I was, I was seeing these kids from the lens of my relationship with God and um, you know, cause, cause you like invest in these kids, redraw these things for them. And some of them just don't care yeah.

Speaker 2:

To keep and you have to keep loving on them. And I continued to, and then I think the last week of the semester, the girl turned around, you know, she came to my class the next semester and she did phenomenal.

Speaker 1:

It was just like, wow, like God was patient with me for so long, you know? And I finally, you know, understood what was happening and yeah,

Speaker 2:

It was, it was, it was very, it was a very rewarding time in my career, probably

Speaker 1:

The top three times in my life, man. So, so you, so you're teaching photography and art. You've got this desire to work for yourself, uh, and not work for yourself for yourself. Say you've got visitors, you've got desires. How did you transition from teaching art school to where you are now? Just and what is that evolution? Yeah. So I taught for three, three years, 2015 to 2018, 2018, um, or a few years

Speaker 2:

Prior to that, there was something called the Adobe creative residency, which is like a whole year that you get to just float,

Speaker 1:

Focus on your work and growing and not have to worry about money because Adobe pays you. And so it's like a free year to just create whatever you want and grow in your craft. And so in 2018 they had an opening. I applied, um, actually I almost didn't apply, but my wife, she was like apply. You literally have nothing

Speaker 2:

To lose. If you don't get it, you continue to teach if you get it.

Speaker 1:

You know? And so I, I switched, I switched, uh, I mean, I, I sent my application in that night. Um, and initially my application was about photography because remember in 2016 I started the design and this is 2018. And I was like, Hmm,

Speaker 2:

Not too strong in design. I don't think they're going to want that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Um, and when you say design, what do you, what do you mean? So like wow. Listeners. Yeah. So

Speaker 2:

There's different types of design. There's UI UX. There are people who do logos of your people who do campaigns.

Speaker 1:

There are people who like go deep, deep into, um, design as far as like the grid system and composition of texts and things like that. Um,

Speaker 2:

And so for me, I was kind of like in a weird space, cause I wasn't like fully, fully a designer, but I wasn't like doing photography full force

Speaker 1:

Time as well. I was like doing

Speaker 2:

The pictures, but going into Photoshop and like manipulating the images.

Speaker 1:

So think of when you see an image of, of a person, but let's say your hair is like broccoli or, you know, you changed your shirt color or you add a pattern or errands to their ears. So it's a different type of design. But at the time I never fully understood what I was doing. I just knew that photography was up here and I want that graphic design to be there as well. And honestly, the reason I did that was like, okay, if I want to apply for a design job, I can leverage the salary because I can do both. Right. And so here's, here's the lesson as well. I started this in 2016, in 2018, I applied to the residency and I applied with the idea of like photography. I was like, Oh, I'm going to take pictures of people in different countries, in different cities and make presets based off of like your environment. Because I was tired of seeing presets being sold outside, but only, I mean, not outside presets being sold online, but for white people. And I was like, dang, black people need presets, Hispanic people need presets. Asian people need presets for their skin color, skin colors, skin colors. So presets are like things that you can do to edit an image. And it's just, it's almost like a field like Instagram filter type of thing. Um, so I wanted to make one for each like culture and places that I've visited. Um, and then eventually like get the presets out there for people to use for free. And I was like, Oh Tammy, that's cute. But we went to your website and we saw this poster, the project you've been doing since 2016. And we're curious if you can, repitch your project to us about how you can merge those two mediums together. I was like, what? I was like, I just started this two years ago. Like, what do you, what are you talking about? And so, yeah, I had three, I had two days to re-pitch it. And um, I had to distribute it and I did and sent it on over, had an interview over the phone. Then they flew me to San Francisco for another interview. It was a whole day thing from like nine to five with the break at 12. So one hour or 45 minutes for each person. And um, yeah. Then around may, no around April, I got the call that I got the job, but now the school year doesn't end till like June. So I, so I pleaded with them. I was like, yo, can I like, can I I'll S I'll accept and I'll still do it, but I need to finish up the year. Cause I was like, I don't want to leave kids like that. You know, I want to finish up the year. Good. And so my kids found out principal found out, um, got married in may, May 5th, you know? Um, and so yeah, just got married, just got the residency. I mean my last two months of teaching. So it was a whirlwind of a time at, uh, at that time so much going on. Um, but yeah, and so once I got, once I got into residency, um, started continue. I started to continue making posters. So I pitched to them. I was like, Hey, for my, uh, for my project that I'm going to re pitch to you guys. I want to merge photography and graphic design together. And, um, for the next three months, I want to work on posters. The next three months, I want to work on fashion. The next three months, I want to work on album covers. And the next three months I want to work on sports. So for a whole year I was able to split it these three months, I'm going to do this stuff. Um, and that's because I wanted to show people and also have like enough work in my portfolio to show that I can do stuff in the fashion industry, in the sports industry and the music industry. So, and it's, it's something you said earlier, and I just want you to elaborate. You were doing posters, uh, on Instagram, what's a poster. And what was the project that you were doing? Yeah. So when you, when I say posters, I I'm alluding to like, you know, back in the nineties, when you have posters of like, all right, Carrie, Michael, Jordan donkey, all those things. And it would just be, it would just be sitting in your room, right? You will have all these positive, all of these famous celebrities and stuff like that, or magazine covers and whatnot. Um, that's what I mean by poster. And so, um, I was just making, I was just making something on eight by 10 size and posting it on Instagram or square size at the time. And I was just sharing it. It was just different ideas that came up. I was like, okay, today I'm going to make this today. I'm going to make this. And ideas just kept coming. And it wasn't about perfection was about growth. So I was like, if I make something bad today, it don't matter. Tomorrow is going to come. If tomorrow comes, I'm going to make something else. You know? So, but I was scared to post it because I was known for, uh, photography. And so when I posted it, yeah, I had to drop the pride and just be like, look, I'm proud of this. If y'all, don't like it, well, the unfollow button is on my profile. You know, like I'm evolving. I was scared. Like it's not, it's not, it wasn't that easy. Like I, I would post one and then on day 10 I would post another one, but I would post like five images in between to kind of clean it up, you know? Um, so, so yeah, I was like, you know what, likes don't pay the bills. You know? And I, I I've started to, I've started to understand that. Not like I, yeah, I just likes can become a drug. And if you're not careful, you can become a slave to your followers and you start posting things that you think they would like versus what you like. Right. And so, um, I was, I was struggling with that and I still do sometimes like yesterday, yeah. Yesterday I just posted like my first 3d thing, you know? And it didn't do as good on the feed as other works that I've done. But I was like, yo, look, I'm proud of this. Y'all going to see this today. You know? Um, but I would be lying to you if I said like, sometimes it doesn't like, make me like, dang, maybe I shouldn't do 3d because this is kind of where I am, but I'm like, I had the same issue, but I evolved, you know? And so I'm in this point where I'm like, look, I'm going to evolve. I'm not, I'm not going to post 3d every day. Cause I'm not doing 3d every day. But if I make something in 3d that I love, I'm going to share it. You know, because I want to document this journey as well. Because a year from now, what I made today, I'm going to look at it and be like, that was, I was trashed. That was a little 3d animation thing, you know? So yeah. Well, I want to give you do some lightning round questions, some life there before we get back into the deep stuff. A scale of one to 10. How good are you at keeping secrets? Uh, I would say an eight. I would say an eight. Okay. Ariel or Jasmine area. Okay. First celebrity crush. Ooh. I forgot her name, but there was a show called Sandy, Sandy crook or Sandy hook. Ah, I forgot the name. I forgot her name, but she was like, I'm talking, I'll watch the show. Once the show is over, I go outside and I just think like, what is she doing right now? Like you see even thinking of me, I hear you. All right. Dawn or dusk. Oh, Don or the photographer? Don? No, dusk. I only waking up early normal. Okay. Does, uh, if you could travel back in time, what period would you go to? Ooh, I go, I'll go to like the eighties. I think I always, I always, I always think about the style back then. Like how unapologetic black people were the eighties in the nineties, it's hard to pick, but

Speaker 2:

It was in a nice house. And then, so I don't really remember what in the nice was like

Speaker 1:

In America. Um, but yeah, I'll probably

Speaker 2:

Eighties or nineties just because of the style. Um, I think this school was big back then. I know the nineties R and B was,

Speaker 1:

But I think people express it

Speaker 2:

And themselves black people expressing themselves with something that I

Speaker 1:

Really, really admired. And it was some of the styles that I do on my work. Like you see them with the box you see now with the Afro, you know? Yeah. Those are, those are things that I have loved because it was just a way to express ourselves. Do you snore? Oh, my wife

Speaker 2:

Told me I do. Yeah. I, I thought

Speaker 1:

I never did until I got married. Listen, join the club. Well, I've joined the club. How about that? A place you most want to travel? Um, Greece, censor Rini, and to Rini. Rick Ross got a song called Santa Rini.

Speaker 2:

That's exactly why I never knew about

Speaker 1:

That place. He says, okay. Favorite junk food bread. What do you mean? Well, I, I know your favorite food for a host for a whole summer. I was trying to buy you food and you're like

Speaker 2:

Pizza. Just give me some bread. What she's doing. Talk about that

Speaker 1:

Bread. Hawaiian bread, bro. In college, those a Walmart, not too far from U of H I would go there and I got Hawaiian bread. I got the, I got the 12th, the 12th pack. By the time I got back to the crib, it was done. So every time I went to Walmart, I always got to right now for the car, one for the house, which the last like three days or sometimes two days or less with crazy. Um, favorite childhood TV show? Um, Martin. Martin. Okay. Uh, your favorite season of spring, summer, winter fall, spring, summer, fall, winter high. I'd probably say spring. Um, yeah, I think

Speaker 2:

I love the flowers that bloom the grass

Speaker 1:

It's like life comes back, you know, summer is cute, but it's too hot. This is how it is. Hey, especially in Texas, then I have dreads. God bless man. Uh, how to dress coming along. Good. You know,

Speaker 2:

I think there's a symbolism with my locks. You know, I,

Speaker 1:

I asked them for Tina out December, 2015, December 12th, 10 days later, December 22nd, 2015, I got locks. I started my locks and I had like, it was look, all I'm gonna say is if I was at 13, I would have left myself if I had a box and then I got, I got a little like curl coils. It looks like little maggots. And she stuck with me through all of that. And so now this is, this is going to be six years in December. Wow. Yeah, it marks like how long we've been dating. It's been six years. Wow. Um, uh, I know you didn't celebrate Halloween. I'm not even going to ask you that cake or pot cake. Okay. Go for sure. And do you post inspirational quotes on social media? I used to, I stopped. I don't know. I, I, yeah, I, I stopped unless there's something that is like deep and probably applies to me. I just, I don't want to, I, I, yeah, I just don't want to be those. I think, I don't know. I feel like there's a lot of hypocrisy in people who just post inspirational quotes because it's like, are you living what you're saying? You know, so for me, like if it's, if it's something that speaks to me, I'll share it. Cause I know it's convicting me or it's deep to me. Um, and I'll share it. I don't, I, I don't. Yeah. Cause some people will be like very, uh, there'll be shooting shots at people on for the sake of inspirational quotes. You know what I'm saying? Yeah. No, like they've got things to say things on their chest. It's a sub sweetens. Yeah, exactly. And it not really lifted anybody. Well, not lifting most people up. It's really not exactly. You're trying to vent, but you're scared to actually say what you mean. So you're going to hide behind it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Uh, what, what does family mean to you?

Speaker 1:

Ooh, good question. Um, I think, cause I want to talk about family and colleagues. Uh, so what does it mean to you? Sorry about that. Yeah, no, you're good. Um, yeah, family is all about like, I really think connection, I think love. And when I say love, I mean like the love that is long suffering, you know, I think the love that speaks truth. Uh, even though it might hurt the other person. Um, I think if you're a family you're not fighting. I don't know if you really are our family, you know, they, there, there has to be, there's going to be tension. And I think what makes the family bond stronger is like what we do in those times. Do we shut down the other person or do we listen and share our own views? Can we agree to disagree and still be family? You know? Cause I think for some people, family are the people that say yes to them. Family are the people that, um, don't confront them. Um, and again, I'm speaking for myself because I've been through stuff where I'm like, look, I don't know if that's your tribe, you know? And that's why I like the word tribe, you know? Cause I, I think, I think tribe is like, people are there for the good, bad and the ugly and they're there for, to see you evolve as well. You know? And um, and they'll call you out on your BS. You know, like I remember when I was, when I was first like guaranteed the gospel and I was, uh, putting stuff, inspirational quotes again on Facebook, Chad called me out. Cause I was like, tell people like give it like the Christ, don't go to, uh, Oh you go to hell. And he was like, Tammy, I don't think this is the right way of going about spreading the love of Jesus. You're scaring people like, like, like you've even said, uh, some people come into Christianity for fire insurance. I will never forget that color. And it's like, dang. Yeah, I don't, I don't want people to come to know Jesus because of that. When we come to know Jesus because of who he is and what he's done, you know? So yeah. I th I think family is going to be fights, but it's all about what happens in those moments. And it's all about telling the truth and love and just being present. Is, is family part of your calling or is it separate to, you know, Ooh, that's tough. It's tough to say because I've been through so much, I've been through so much hurt even within family that, and this is like people that you trusted with your life and, um, stuff like that. But I think, um, I, I think knowing that I am inducted in God's family has been enough reinsurance and enough healing for me to be okay. Even if quote unquote family here with some people doesn't feel like family, if that makes sense. Oh, I gotcha. Uh, do you, do you sometimes that tension of, and I'm sure you we've talked about it, a S do you sometimes feel that tension of your calling and, and your family, the things you, you know, God has called you to do, and then sometimes family might not always be on board or they might not understand, or what have you, but you do sometimes feel that tension. Yeah, I do. You know, like, um, yeah, I, I D I do feel the tension, but you know, again, it just goes back to like, I know what I know what God has called me to do. And the thing that I keep telling people, Hey, it actually hit me after this Oscar Stina was like, obedience got me here. You know, it wasn't, it wasn't like my work. I don't know if that makes sense to some people like those, those steps that God allowed me to take brought me here. Like God was in the details this whole time, you know? And you know, and it's like, I never knew it. I never, I never really like looking back now, like duh, all of this times. And, you know, it was just like, Oh, the decisions I've had to make, like, what was in the details. Like even this freelance thing, after my residency, I had three job offers and I said no to all of them. And I was like, God, I don't know what I'm doing. Like, why did I just do that? Like, I remember the first one I went to work at this place so bad, but I told them no. And I remember the call after the call. I was just looking at the wall for an hour. Like my team, this is it. This was like an opportunity that you just turned down. And we know when my wife was supportive, I just, I, I didn't know. I didn't know what to do. And I think like, there's always been that tension even now of like, okay, uh, life has been very successful. What is it going to stop? You know? Um, cause I'm like, God, this, like, this is too good to be true. Like, let me know when you're going to put the brakes on me, you know? Um, and I don't know if it's a good mindset, but it's just something that I know I've struggled with. And being an immigrant, coming to America, like seeing our parents have to use credit cards and stuff like that. I was like, I never want to be in that position. And so I started saving money, but even now with all the jobs that I'm getting, like, yes, we have a house, but part of me is like, okay, how can we save like 80 of our income just in case the work stops, you know? But I have a wife and she's like, you're dumb. We're not doing that. Just like God blessed you. And you're allowed to enjoy the blessing. And I was like, yeah, but I want to save some of it for later, just in case the blessing stops. Yeah. You know, and it's kind of like this poverty mindset and I probably take it to extremes at times of like over saving. Um, but yeah, cause I remember like last year we were what, the year before, like I was like, okay, we have like, if I don't want to work for, for the next four months, we're good. You know, but I was like, Oh nah, I don't like that. That's only four months. I got to get like 20 years. No, I got to have enough money to where we can be good for 20 years then I'll relax. So yeah, no, that's crazy that there, that feeling of, uh, man, the bottom is gonna fall out. When is that going to happen? Yeah. No, I think we all all have a sense of man. This stuff is finite. It could fly, it could go any moment, you know, mindset can change. Technology can change. Uh, we have a sickness that, that takes us out. Right? Yeah, no, I, I understand that feeling in that pressure. Um, and so I wanted to, uh, as we round the bend here and just talk about your evolution as an artist, uh, and as an artist who, who is called, how would you describe your artistic style? What would you now even it's been an evolution, but how would you describe it? Yeah, I, you know, first of all, I would say it's black. You know, I told you, I think black is a beautiful canvas. That's a whole nother story, but, um, but it's black. Wait, what do you mean by that? Black is a beautiful canvas. Um, so a lot of the work that I do revolves around black people and the people in our communities and, um, it's that, that, that might be my next exhibition. Ooh, that's a nice title. Um, but, um, but yeah, no, I think that the work that I do revolves around blackness and revolves around uplifting people in our community that look like me because I want them to see themselves in my work because I think representation matters. And I think if they see themselves in a way that is just like, that can be me. Like I can look this good, like my skin color is this beautiful. Like I loved that, you know, I, I, a man DME this week and was like, I just put my, my young daughter and my, his daughter is black. I put my black, my young daughter on your work and she's inspired. Like she sees herself in it and I'm like, that's what it's all about. Like, I don't like, yes, these gigs and stuff are good, but for me, it's like, I want to inspire a generation to see themselves in a way that they've probably never seen themselves before, but also create work that is timeless create work that, you know, if I pass people can still see that work and remember and feel what I was feeling when I made it, you know, like it's always been about wanting people to feel something. One of my work does spark conversation about justice. Uh, one of my work does spark conversation about the beauty of our skin, you know, in Nigeria they saw a lot of bleaching creams and I remember coming to America was very, um, I wasn't really happy with the skin that I was in. I remember when I got a spine and I was trying to scrub off the dirt, you know, on my skin. And so now making these posters, it's like a reminder to myself that again, black is a beautiful canvas. I'm not a mistake. And you know, when you think of like color and how color adds on black canvas, it's brighter, it's vibrant, it's um, captivating. And so, um, yeah, I, I think, I think my work just depicts, you know, my Nigerian culture of the vibrancy of our culture and the attires and the stuff that we wear. Um, but also modernizing it in a way that, um, reflects the times that we're in, you know? Um, and yeah, and I, I just want my work to be like timeless. Like someone, I look up to his cane de Wiley, like his work is in so many museums. Um, and it's timeless. Like you have, you have a rapper sitting on the horse, wearing his wearing Nike's pants, sagging, a snapback puff, jacket, Aries, you know what I'm saying? Like that's timeless. And so I want to create work in my style that kind of exude that same feeling. Uh, you know, we, we talked about the already probably talked about the evolution of your style. You have some work that is being exhibited on the Apple TV page. You have that same work as being exhibited at the Oscars this year. And, uh, there's something I think that I can recognize your work. There's a sense of joy that I feel when I see your work. It is very distinctly black. And when I say black, the diaspora, because I think people don't realize there's black people all over, over speaking, all different speaking, different languages, all over the place. And so there's, there's this field of the diaspora, uh, that is in your work. There's this feel of joy or celebration in your work? Uh, man, where did you get that from? And, and, and, and if you would, if you see that in your work, uh, you know, cause I'm, I'm just somebody who observes it, you see that in a work van, where do you get that from? You know, it's, it's all experimental, right? I I'm the kind of person like you gave me a tool and I say, okay, that's cute, but how can I use it for something else? And so that is like, I feel like that's my super power, like a lot of the styles and stuff that I show my work. A lot of them have been accidents. Like I use shapes because I can't draw. And I was very, I was very upset about that. You know? Like, like people think it's deep, but it's really not super like, Oh Tammy, when did you start? What are these shapes? Where do they come from? I was like, um, well, I tried to draw and I suck. So I just use shapes. You see, you know, and it's an underwhelming answer, but it's like, that's literally what happened. And I remember when I started using shapes, it was 3:00 AM in the morning I was playing switch with my friend in Marfa, Texas. I had a workshop that was teaching them than at 10:00 AM. We were playing super smash is now three o'clock. I'm like, bro, I have a workshop tomorrow. I got to figure out what I'm going to teach. So I get on my computer, I'm teaching to teach photography and design. So I was like, okay, I can't draw. But in design there are elements of color, the elements of composition, there are elements of shapes. I was like, okay, how can I bring a shape into a portrait? And that was how that whole style started a beautiful, beautiful mistake, you know? And, um, even a lot of the other styles and things that I'm doing. Like I watch videos. I learn, I see how they do. And I'm like, okay, cool. What are ways that I can do it in my own way to express something else? And so that's kind of like being my mindset. Um, and I love trying new things like right now I'm, um, in 3d and I'm trying to learn 3d, seeing how I can apply it to my work. Um, and then, you know, eventually get into animation. I don't know, what's next. Maybe I'll go back to learn how to draw, you know, but I just want to evolve so that in the future, there are many different outlets of things that I can do a round in the bin. How does the market dictate what you do or does it honestly, it does not. Um, right now there's this whole like NFT stuff that's going around. Um, I love[inaudible]. Yeah, I know. And that is non fungible token. Um, it's a way to verify our work in the blockchain and to verify the owner. So really when people bid on NFTs, they're not really buying the work, but they're buying their certificate of ownership of that work to be able to display it, um, later. Um, but NFTs can be crazy because it can go into like musicians putting stuff on the NFT market. And the bit, whoever wins gets like a lifetime access to all of their shows, you know, or a link to different types of merch, stuff like that. So, um, it's a whole big thing, but people, um, are flocking to it for the wrong reasons. Right. And so they're almost in a way begging people to buy their work. And some people are starting to like live off of just NFTs. And it's like, I don't know if it's sustainable because not every cause you kind of need a following. You kind of need to also have the right people looking and you have to self promote yourself a lot. And I'm not, I'm not, yeah. I'm not that type of person. I'm like, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna beg you to buy my work. You know what I'm saying? And it might be. Yeah. And it might be a privilege saying that because of where I'm at in my career. But honestly I'm just like I, to me, I'm going to put stuff. I've already sold two pieces and they sold fast and I'm grateful for it, but I'm also like, I'm just going to drop an NFC when I want to, like, I'm not going to become a slave to this thing. Cause I, I saw people who, uh, who have amazing work, amazing following all of that stuff. They put their stuff on the market. It doesn't sell for what they thought it would sell for. And then they get mad and I'm like, but your thing's still sold for$2,000. No one is going to buy your print for$2,000 in real life. Right. Right. So you see, they're still complaining. And so I'm just like, yo, and then people are complaining like, cause the thing did not sell for one Ethereum. And right now one at theorem is$2,200. Yeah. And it's like, even if you sell your thing for 0.5, you're still making$1,100, you know, but people don't, people are feeling like, Oh, that's too small, you know? And it's just, yeah. You know, it's just this thing and I don't want to get sucked into it. So, but uh, a friend of mine tapped happy to like help design some stuff for, um, an NFC for DJ premiere. And so he's dropping his, uh, in five days. So that's going to be a huge thing. Yeah. But I saw the DJ premier DJ program for those of you who don't know, gee, there's an old G producer, one of the founding producers of hip hop or at least popular hip hop on the East coast. That is Ashley from Houston, but uh, is yeah. Yeah. Fifth ward, uh, but is instrumental in the whole East coast sound like when people say boom bap, they're really going back to like his drum patterns and what he, he, he started. Right. And so that's big that you are, you have an opportunity to work with him and produce, uh, pieces that would, uh, or go on the open market. Um, thank you. I want to close with this question. How do you believe your faith informs your work? Yeah, so I think that my faith plates plays a very big part of my work because I think there, there are things I want people to feel when they see my work. Right. And my work has needed to take me to places that I never dreamed of. And because of that, it's kind of given me an open door to speak about my faith openly. Um, you know, when people ask where I gain inspiration from like, literally I'm looking outside right now and I see a coral flower planting and I already have an idea of a poster that I want to make using that my God has created this earth in such a way that you sh you shouldn't be out of inspiration. You can't, if you are then you're probably one either burnt out, which is okay, you know, go to sleep, watch TV, enjoy yourself. Um, or two, you just don't want to see it. And so even with me using black people, like it goes back to that in Malaga Imago, DEI of many, the image of God and, um, trying to continue to affirm, um, our place in this earth, you know? And, um, I think also my, my faith has played a part in just how I approach people and how I interact with people who love my work. Right. I remember when I started getting a lot more followers, my work was getting seen by a lot of people. My prayer to God was like, God, I don't want to take the shine from you. Like I want to continue to have my, my work and my success point back to you, you know? Yes. There's a lot more money coming in now. And I plan to a point where

Speaker 2:

Like, before I started calculating, like how much goes into taxes, how much we pay ourselves, how much my agents,

Speaker 1:

I just like take a moment to just thank God. Like, God, you didn't have to do this. Like, you didn't have to send the Oscars. You didn't have to send Adobe or Apple, but you did. And I'm grateful. Um, and it is allowed I think,

Speaker 2:

Because it's, it's humbled me in a way, because I know that this can be taken from me

Speaker 1:

Any time, you know? And I'm not perfect. You know, there, since that, I also struggle with in it, God has still been fateful in spite my moments of unfaithfulness, you know? Um, and even on that, I noticed that in my, in my, in my past, growing up, you know, um, and like, God can deny himself. I forget what, what it says. Then the Bible I remember reading. And I was like, Ooh, you know? And it's like, if God has called me to his family and I am in him and it can deny himself, you know, like right there, right. Like

Speaker 2:

It's like, there's nothing. And it goes back to Colin. There's nothing you can do

Speaker 1:

That would take you out of what God has for you. Literally nothing, you know? Yes. He gives free will. Yes. He gives free will, but it's like, God is still in the details. You know what I'm saying? Um, and it's, he's gracious enough to even give us the free will you know what I'm saying? And so, yeah, like I, if you would have told me, I would have gotten a house in the pandemic, you know, I would've just laughed at you, you know? And we, we have a house. I was working for myself when we got the house, there was a whole bunch of tax stuff. They wanted

Speaker 2:

To see how much money we had the beginning of

Speaker 1:

The year, um, during the application process and a week before we closed on the house and thank God there was work coming in. Wow. You know, and again, it goes back to like, God was in the

Speaker 2:

Details. And now my wife left her job in October.

Speaker 1:

And now we do this boat full time and it's been amazing. And it it's allowed us to like help bless other people. We're in a space now where God has been gracious to us. And we just want to be able to pass that love to other people

Speaker 2:

And bless other people. Like he has been a blessing to us. Um,

Speaker 1:

And yeah. You know, but you know, I still struggle with that myself. Like, man, this could go away. You know, like I told you may is probably like a pretty chill month, which I haven't had. And part of me is like, man, God, what's going to happen in June. Like, am I going to get some work? And as I was saying, all of this doc two emails yesterday from two, two big companies and they want to talk about potential work and I'm like, okay, I need to stop complaining. You know, because in my life God's track record is like, it's 100 to zero, you know, but yet I still have this fear at times of like, Oh, well it's going to stop soon. Or maybe this is going to be a nice run for the next two years. What's going to happen after, you know? And so I have to check my chances sometimes of like, am I doing 3d so that I can like try to secure my spot in this creative community or learn how to draw, to secure my spot. So then somebody that just doesn't come and take over, you know? So those are the things that I've had to like question myself with and make sure that my reason for doing stuff is a good reason. Awesome. Uh, thank you so much for joining me. Um, thank you for having me. I, I think it's like this, like the only podcast that I've done where people can really get an insight in like my life, life, cause you were there everyone else I have to like kind of skip over some of the details. No, this, this was amazing time, man. I, uh, I appreciate the, the desire to come on. And man, what you shared I think is going to bless so many people and uh, we got to do this again for sure. Sometime in the very near future. So again, thank you Tammy. Of course. Thank you for having me.