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February 2020 | Magazine Issue

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Adri Norris | Afro Triangle Designs

The core of what I do is create artwork about women in history, and I use that artwork as an educational tool. My work enables me to go into schools and teach students.
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Interview

What do you do?

The core of what I do is create artwork about women in history, and I use that artwork as an educational tool. My work enables me to go into schools and teach students. I try to make the sessions as informal as possible about women in history, the time frames in which they lived, why we must look backward, and I try to encourage them to seek diversity. I also urge them to do research projects of their own, which they can then turn into an art project. I’ve noticed for myself that having to find a way to describe an image, solidifies information about the image more. Every product that I create is educational in some way, shape, or form from the original paintings, which are mixed media and watercolor, all the way to the trading cards and coloring books. I do not create art for art’s sake. I create art for education.

How long did it take before you progressed from just being creative to making creativity a business?

I’ve always been creative. I announced when I was seven years old that I was going to be an artist when I grew up. I was in the military, and my mom used to send my sketchbook to boot camp like it was that serious. So I’ve always known in some way that I would use my art to make money. I moved out to Denver to attend art school. I went to the Art Institute of Colorado, and I studied animation. When you go to art school, they try to push you into jobs. They were trying to usher me into the film industry and the video game industry, but I didn’t feel like either of those were the realms for me. I’ve always been more interested in classical art and showings of traditional paintings.

I got into freelance graphic design, designing logos, and that kind of thing. But I got to a point where I was creating portraitures, kids’ paintings, and the like. People loved them. I’ve always been a bit of an information junkie. I’ve always loved watching documentaries and listening to podcasts and reading books about all kinds of different topics. So I came up with the idea of showcasing women in history. It was the perfect marriage of my creative aspects, as well as my intellectual perspective.

What are some of your core values?

I believe that the job of an artist is to either record culture, create culture or both. If you look at ancient formations, it shows you what people were doing and thinking at the time. At the same time, you’ve got things like propaganda, media, and film poetry that changes people’s mind because it gives them the ability to dream. A vast majority of our scientific advances came from the works of Science Fiction. Writing is a testament to our ability to change the culture as well.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to pay more attention to what’s going on outside and simultaneously be more faithful to what’s happening inside. I had a lot of insecurities growing up, and even recently just trying to make it as an artist. Historically, the narrative has been that artists are “starving,” that you can’t make money off this, that you’re going to Ramen Noodles for the rest of your life, or that you’re going to get stuck being a teacher.  I think that narrative is entirely false and is being fed by the fact that we don’t teach businesses in grade or trade schools. So, I would tell my younger self to pay attention to how other people are successfully doing things and don’t listen to the naysayers. I’m not the first person to make money with my artwork, and I won’t be the last. Yes, it would have been wonderful if it didn’t take me so long to figure it out. But I learned everything I was supposed to, exactly when I was supposed to.

History Boards By Adri

Playing Cards By Adri

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