There are two things that we totally embrace at The Aubrey Richards Boutique and my personal lifestyle that is art and community. I’m excited to introduce you to some one that I have met in my community. I have to say first that she inspires me and gives me such hope for the future.
Taina Cunion is a young, vibrant 19-year-old woman. When first meeting her at my most local farmer’s market I immediately just felt like “wow, she could be mine, her momma did a great job!” she spoke with confidence, her style and dress her own eclectic look and her curls, each perfect in her edgy, this is me haircut. Just like my kids would be, she was surrounded by a big brother and mom and dad. Her people had shown up to support on her day selling her art. I had to be a part of that, I had to bring that next level of support for her, that community support. And yes, her art is great. Everything that my family loves and appreciates in art. The story telling, the multiple mediums, the playfulness… I could go on but just let me get her in on this.
Check out this Q&A with Taina.
Dara: What kind of art do you do?
Taina: I am an illustrator major & aspiring storyteller. My personal work mostly focuses on world-building for comic stories. These comics can either be short stories that I post online every once in a while, or more elaborate stories that I enjoy developing concept art for in order to potentially make a graphic novel one day. To be honest though, I can be a little all over the place when it comes to artmaking. I like to experiment with different styles and forms of art such as printmaking, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and digital. I also play a bit with the kinds of things that I produce bouncing from mood to mood, cute dog painting one day, a block print about the origins of the term zombie deriving from slavery another day. I amused a teacher once because he had seen a lot of work from me that was identity-based, very colorful, patterned, and a little cute, and then out of nowhere for a project I made these creepy semi-realistic monster soap sculptures. I felt like that moment really defined who I was as an artist, I like to make cute art also like to make creepy art.
Dara: Is your art strictly personal and then sold or would you say you have personal art and art that you produce for selling?
Taina: I would say that I have personal art & then art that I produce for selling. Some of my personal work is things in progress I may end up posting online and sometimes I just keep it to myself. Then there are things I make specifically for selling but I wouldn’t say that makes one thing necessarily better or worse than the other. I try to approach every project with the same attention to detail.
Dara: How old were you when you started your art journey?
Taina: I think that ever since maybe third grade I’ve had an open interest in going into art as a career. I believe there was a career day at my school & I dressed up as an art teacher. My goals have changed a bit since then. Around middle school, my parents noticed my continued interest and encouraged me to look into what kind of careers I’d be interested in doing with art. After some research, I landed upon Art Director, a job where I could help design tv & film. I was hooked after that, I think. I started making my own characters & trying to develop my own style, filling notebooks upon notebooks with sketches and ideas. I’m still passionate about it now, and I’m grateful that I have a family that’s been so supportive of me on my journey this far.
Dara: What does art mean to you? Like freedom, expression, femininity, etc...?
Taina: Defining art is pretty subjective and there are all kinds of debates about what is and isn’t art. Personally, when I think of art, I think of communication & expression. Even some contemporary artists that play on “art is dead” and make stuff ironically are still communicating something to the audience. Words can be hard & language can be messy, but I feel like people can manage to communicate something powerful & personal in a single image. I also find it liberating to communicate little things too, not everything needs to have some deep message, sometimes art is just communicating & expressing the things you like or don’t like. It’s indulgent, it’s therapeutic, and for me, it’s a way of collecting my thoughts when things can get overwhelming. If I can’t think about how I feel about a subject, maybe I can use a character, composition, or whatever artmaking thing I can think of to help me process an idea. And maybe if I don’t want to think about a subject, art can be an escape. It’s multi-functional and I think that’s why I love it.
Dara: Where can we see or purchase more of your art?
I have an Etsy shop under the name TyCunionArtShop
where I'm selling a bit of my art; and to see more of my art, I post mainly on my Instagram account @ty_cunion_art
I appreciate Taina’s art, mind, and spirit. We need more of her in our world. I believe they are out there waiting to be acknowledged and embraced just like this young woman. I love filling my home spaces with art from real people, people with stories that I can learn personally. This for me gives art its authenticity, this makes it real for me. I want to share this with each of you as well. This season when you shop with The Aubrey Richards Boutique you will receive a
beautiful postcard made by Taina herself boasting one of her pieces that I simply adore. For me, it is playful, innocent and depicts so much of what I love in the season’s changes. Do me a favor and check Taina out on her social media and Etsy shop. Oh yeah and come back to ARB for all of your lifestyle and wardrobe needs and inspiration.