Meet a young artist who is using her work to challenge the representations of Black women.
EBONY: What is it that you do for a living? Describe in full detail. What are your day-to-day tasks?
Tamika Blockett: I am an illustrator and I own the brand Little Miss Mika. I consider Little Miss Mika an “inspirational wonderland” where I’m creating, celebrating and redefining multicultural images of women. I want more women of color to see their images in a delightful way. I am curating poise, style and grace. In addition to being shop for my illustrations, Little Miss Mika is also a blog for etiquette, art, style and beauty.
What do I do on a day-to-day basis? A LOT! I create various Little Miss Mika stationary sets for partnerships, collaborations and the online boutique I’m building on Etsy.com
EBONY: Describe the absolute coolest part of your workday.
TB: Hmmm. The absolute coolest is when I complete an illustration and it comes out as I envisioned. Or when it doesn’t come out how I envisioned and it still comes out good. Sometimes you just have to have patience. The end result is the peak of my day.
EBONY: Did you pursue this work while you were in school or is this something that just sort of came alone on your journey?
TB: I’ve always loved art. Grew up around art and I sketched for fun. However, I was persuaded to go to Bowie State for Journalism, Advertising and PR, instead of going to fashion school. I then pursued a marketing career and worked at Viacom’s MTV & BET Networks for eleven years. After a company-wide restructuring in 2011, I veered towards my life’s passion of seeing women of color in a positive light. I revived my hobby [of sketching] this past year and the reaction from people really encouraged me to do it full time.
EBONY: Oprah once said that at her core, she is a teacher. What do you consider yourself to be at your core?
TB: Wow! That’s a good question. At my core...I am a lover and a visionary. What I am starting to see is that I can create a piece of work where women of color can see themselves in a way they haven’t before. Seeing yourself beautifully represented in an image or in an animation is a feeling that comes from outside yourself. It makes you say, “Oh I AM gorgeous!” It lifts people up on the inside and I’m glad to be able to do that.
EBONY: What are some initial reactions when people find out what you do? What do they say? What are their expressions?
TB: Let’s see...My drawing was never anything I shared with anyone. It was my little hobby. So when I first started to show people my art through Facebook they would say things like, “Oh, you draw?!” But as soon as they said that, they wanted to immediately know where they could get it! They were seeing my vision of them: beautiful.
When I decided to do this full time, I’ve received major support from my grandmother, my mother and my boyfriend. Having them as well as other friends and family to support really helps and makes you feel like you can conquer the world.
EBONY: Any advice to someone considering going into your line of work?
TB: My advice is anyone can do anything. I don’t have formal training; I’ve taken classes but I don’t have a degree in illustration. If you have a dream, go out and pursue it. Be unstoppable. Be fearless. Be courageous!
Ebonie Johnson Cooper is a freelance writer, philanthropist and thought leader on millennial social responsibility and coming of age in your 20s. Her energy can be read weekly the blog of Friends of Ebonie. Home is Brooklyn, NY; she frolics often in Washington, DC. Follow her on @EbsTheWay.