Tiffany B Chanel
Tiffany B Chanel
Although Tiffany B Chanel only started painting a couple of years ago, a move that seems happenstance for someone who spent most of her life as an athlete and dancer, her art is anything but a passing hobby. Most widely known for her pop art-style portraits, Tiffany B is on a mission to empower the everyday woman through the vibrant colors that she sees in them. It is through fierce discipline and a strong sense of self that Tiffany B is able to share her gift with the world, and she encourages us to do the same. In this Spotlight, Tiffany B invites us into her creative process and how she protects herself both mentally and emotionally.
Tell us about yourself?
I am from Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy to be exact. My passion is traveling to different countries and meeting different people around the world. I love collecting sneakers! Right now, my favorite pair of sneakers are Nike Air Max 1’s. I love the color combinations and they make me feel like I am wearing art on my feet. I spend my breaks catching up on any Marvel or DC comic show.
Fun fact: I never went to art school. I was an athlete and dancer most of my life. I randomly started painting 6 years ago.
For those of us who are not familiar with your kaleidoscope portraitures, please share with us how you got started and what your work aims to accomplish.
I started painting faces in color because that is exactly how I see the people I am creating. The more I grew, I was able to see the colors more clearly and the faces started to look more like a puzzle to me. I am inspired by faces and I intend to make the subject come alive on canvas, conveying a degree of realism that forces the viewer to be moved by feeling. Color moves me as well as people. I aim for my work to capture and illuminate the inner beauty of each subject with unapologetic vibrancy.
In 2012 you began designing custom-painted sneakers and later in your career you shifted your focus on fine art portraiture. What inspired this change, how have you adapted along the way, and what have you learned?
Well, I am inspired by being challenged. When I was creating sneakers, I randomly received a DM on Instagram asking me to paint Tamara Mowry’s son. I had never painted a portrait before. For some reason, I felt like I was being asked to because they thought that I could. I do believe that sometimes people are able to see things in you that you have yet to see in yourself. So I took the challenge! When I finally completed the portrait, I posted it on Instagram. Tamara reposted the picture and it received over 60k likes. That one repost led to emails, DMs, and commission pieces. That repost is why I paint faces today. To this day, I still take challenges that come my way. What I have learned is that the process never gets easier, you just get better at handling those difficult moments. I learned that in order to grow and continue to move forward, you have to be open to constantly adjusting, creating structure, and having a lot of patience.
Your piece, Paola, is beautiful and moving. What’s the story behind this woman and how do you select the people you paint?
Paola is part of an ongoing series that features your everyday women of color who inspire, uplift, and empower. She is a woman entrepreneur from a small part of Haiti who came to New York to follow her dreams. While living in Harlem, she launched her head wrap line called Fanm Djanm in 2014. Her brand celebrates the strength of a woman, while also empowering women to lively boldly. My portraits are of real people. I paint who I connect to. Some people I feel connected to after meeting them and some I gravitate toward based on falling in love with certain facial features. I would then paint them just as I saw them: bold, vibrant, and powerful.
The celebration and powerful representation of women of color are at the core of your art. What is one piece of advice you would give to other women of color looking to creative outlets to influence change?
I don’t have one piece of advice, I have three! Be consistent, be driven by purpose, and own it! These three things are very important to me. If you are looking toward creative outlets to influence change, you must to always be consistent. Second, if you are driven by purpose, money is not a thought. If you are driven by money, you will never grow and you will lack consistency. The beauty of moving in purpose is that everything eventually falls into place, but patience is key. Let the world know that you exist and keep reminding them that you are here. Put your gift into the world and you will start to attract like-minded people. Lastly, do not be afraid to share what you are passionate it about. Own your gift, own your message, own your passion!
Last month, our theme was maintaining healthy relationships ad self-care. How do you set boundaries and invest time in yourself?
Two years ago I started to really focus on self-care when I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel. From that moment, I realized that I had to be more attentive and in tune with how I am feeling and acknowledging that I had to take breaks in order to not be in pain. I now invest time for myself everyday. I start my mornings around 3:30 am – 4:00 am. I enjoy being up while everyone else is asleep because I actually am able to focus more without any distractions from my phone or people. I make a green smoothie, I light a candle, I do a 10-min stretch routine, I listen to a motivational speech on YouTube, and I blast my favorite music while sitting in my studio, which is my happy place. The gym is also my personal therapy. I go there 3 times a week with all of my anxieties and I leave feeling great, strong, and new. I know that I cannot be good for anyone if I am not in a good space emotionally or mentally. With that being said, I believe in doing whatever makes me happy and whatever brings me peace of mind.
Since painting requires me to be focused for many hours, I can’t allow anything to affect my mood and slow down my process. I had to learn to create boundaries so that I can stay focused and keep up with my workload. When I am painting, my phone is always on do not disturb and my music helps me get through the process. When I am done, then I know that I can reach out to friends and family to catch up. Overall it is important to me to be protective of what I feed myself mentally and who I allow into my space because if I am not cautious, it can affect my mood, day, and progress.
We talked about Instagram briefly and how it served as a launchpad for your artwork. Social media can be a tool to find inspiration and to build community. How have you utilized social media to uplift the message you want to send?
I call Instagram my online journal because it allows me to share my story and it reminds me of how I started and why. I try to post every single day showing my progress. Showing my work consistently has led to me gaining new clients in other states. Since I know I want to post, it forces me to work harder to have something new to show. At the same time, social media has allowed me to be express and share my process. I talk about my opportunities, my struggles, my highs, and my lows. I think the real message that I promote is that through all of those things, I never stop working! I’ve noticed that the more I share, the more I see people say “thank you, I needed that reminder.” I also see that I am able to connect to more creatives and like-minded people because they relate to my message.
What are you most excited about in the art industry and what would you like to see differently?
I am excited to see all the opportunities that are now available to artists such as residences, grants, as well as the other platforms that companies and celebrities are creating for artists.
So many schools have lost their art programs and children are not exposed to the different types of arts available like they used to be back in the days. They can have hidden talents that they are not even aware of just because there was no reason for them to tap into that gift. I would like to see more opportunities in the arts created for children.
What’s next for you and how can we continue to support you?
Right now I am creating new pieces for my first solo show in Brooklyn. A date has not been set as of yet, but look out for my solo show in 2019!