Don’t Miss a Beat Jazz Festival in Jacksonville Florida Contest – A Process

A few months ago I participated to a contest to design inaugural poster for the Don’t Miss a Beat Jazz Festival in Jacksonville Florida, happening this upcoming July 24th 2021.

Although my design was not selected, I wanted to share it and explain my creative process.

It was one of my first time creating with very specific directives, and I found it fun to do so!

I wanted to celebrate women’s contribution in Jazz and that is why drew a lady playing trumpet.

Her pose is a “clin d’oeil” to Miles Davis iconic pose, and her hair the shape of the city borders.

The background was inspired by Jacksonville flag. 

Check out the pictures below!

I started to sketch my drawing in my notebook
Timelapse of the drawing
Inspired by Mies
Jacksonville Flag

Jacksonville City Map

Congratulations to local visual artist Carolyn Audije

On Dancing

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Representation matters.

When I was about 4-5 years old I was taken to a dance class in my neighborhood. I honestly can’t recall what happened that day but by the end of the class I know I never wanted to go back again.

Fast forward years later when I moved to New York, I was often asked if I was a dancer. Maybe it was because of my posture (which I got from walking on a 10cm beam in artistic gymnastics). I honestly thought people were joking around; after all, I looked nothing like the girls I had seen all my life on the cover of Martine et les Petit Rats de l’Opera, or even the girls from Dirty Dancing.

My legs were muscular a bit like one of my idols, Surya Bonali, but oh boy! do I remember how people used to talk about hers.

Bonaly constantly faced negativity from judges as she did not fit in to their norm. Being black did not correlate with their idea of being graceful as characterized by the white feminine body. This clearly demonstrates that the dominate white culture determines who is and is not allowed to be exceptional and that definitions of what is acceptable behaviour can change based on who is performing it “(Jackson, 1999).

The way I perceived myself through the eyes of society prevented me to even consider classical danse as an option. I still would love to dance and even created a couple routine from school. In the early 90’s, American Hip Hop pertained the French media and I thought, maybe I could try that – this may be more “for people like me”.

It took many years and growth to overcome these stereotypes and feel comfortable showing more of my legs! But I felt a bit cheated I never was not encouraged to pursue the practice of dance.

Of course dancers such as Debbie Allen and later Misty Copeland paved the way for a newer generation of classical dancers, and dance company such as Alvin American Dance Theater pioneered Black Excellence in the

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Photo by Andrew Eccles.
ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER. PHOTO BY ANDREW ECCLES

That specifically the reason why I was inspired to create a series of Groovy Afro Dancers: Just because #RepresentationMatters – and I hope that young and not so younger girls will recognize themselves in them!

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*Jackson, R. L. (1999). White space, white privilege: Mapping discursive inquiry into the self. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 85(1), 38-54. DOI: 10.1080/00335639909384240

Honey Moon Love Commission in Gold Black and White

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Last year I was commissioned by a dear friend of mine to draw one of her wedding pictures.

Of course it was a bit daunting because I had never done that type of work, but I felt I could definitely give it a show.

I have to say, I impressed myself with this one! Not only did I love the artistry, I also enjoyed the experience of creating a piece that portrayed L.O.V.E was even better is that she loved it!

Needless to say, she also enjoyed it ❤️

Check out the close ups!

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Dotted Symmetry 101

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There is nothing more satisfying than completing a painting you’ve been working on for countless hours over several days!

I have just recently started to work on larger canvases and I it is a bit challenging:

Well for starter, it obviously takes way longer to paint it. One section at the time, dot by dot, it is a work in progress.

Secondly, you need more space and be mindful to let the paint dry in between section (acrylic dries pretty fast) so it does not smudge.

Finally, it just takes time to see the final result – but it is all worth it tho.

For this piece, I used Golden Fluid Paint I mainly purchased at one of my favorite store: Blick Art Supply Store.

For that type of project I always love to use a matte background and satin or metallic paint. I draw the pattern then I picked the colors as I go, which is one of the most interesting part.

Then, come the execution! Overall, it takes around 1 week from start to finish. In the future I will try to create some videos of the process, in the meantime, enjoy some close up shots 🙂

Acrylic on Canvas, 24x30in, available on Saatchi

https://www.saatchiart.com/daphneessiet

For more update, check out my Inst

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Afro Fairies Mural

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Almost a year ago I was commissioned to create a mural! Just wanted to share with you these picture ❤ This was my first time and it was much fun! It later inspired my notebook collection of Afro Fairies!

H

Here is my Instagra

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Celebrating Black Francophone Women, from the Caribbean, Africa and France – Part1

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In America, we often celebrate icons such as Toni Morrison, Dr Maya Angelou, Oprah or Angela Davis.

I feel like there is real a lack of Africans, Caribbean and Afropeans women depicted in art, so I decided to create some pieces featuring black and brown women I learnt about over the year, some in school in the USA, on French TV, or simply social media.

Do you recognize/know any of them?

Christiane Taubira

Christiane Taubira is a writer and French politician, who served as Minister of Justice of France in the government of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault under President François Hollande from 2012 until 2016. She was a member of the National Assembly of France for French Guiana (1993-2012) and of the European Parliament (1994-1999).

Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé is a French novelist, critic, and playwright from the French Overseas department and region of Guadeloupe. Condé is best known for her novel Ségou. Her novels explore the African diaspora that resulted from slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean.

Cameroonian author Calixthe Béyala

Calixthe Beyala is a Cameroonian author and member of the Eton people. She published her first book, “C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée”, at the age of 23 and eventually chose to become a full-time writer.

Cameroonian author and vocalist Léonora Miano

Léonora Miano is a Cameroonian author and vocalist. She published her first novel, Dark Heart of the Night, which was well received by French critics, receiving six prizes: Les Lauriers Verts de la Forêt des Livres, Révélation (2005), the Louis Guilloux prize (2006), the Prix du Premier Roman de Femme (2006), the René-Fallet prize (2006), the Bernard-Palissy prize (2006),and the Cameroonian Excellence prize (2007). The Lire magazine awarded it with the title of the best first French novel in 2005. Her second novel, Contours du jour qui vient, received the Goncourt des lycéens prize, which was discerned by a jury of young high schoolers between the ages of 15 and 18.

Rokhaya Diallo

Rokhaya Diallo, is a French journalist, author, filmmaker, and activist for racial, gender and religious equality. According to The New York Times, she is “one of France’s most prominent anti-racism activists.” She is a BET-France host and has produced and/or directed documentaries, television and radio programs.

Assa Traore

Assa Traoré is a French activist and leader of the Committee for Justice and Truth for Adama. She became the Face of France’s Movement for Racial Justice after her brother, Adama Traoré, died in police custody. 

Maboula Soumahoro

Dr. Maboula Soumahoro is a French scholar whose work focuses on US and African-American studies. Since 2013, she is also the president of the Black History Month (BHM), an organization dedicated to the celebration of Black history and cultures throughout the world. Dr. Soumahoro is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte).

Noémi Lenoir

Noémie Lenoir is a French model and actress. She is known for her work with Gucci, L’Oréal, Next, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria’s Secret, Balmain Paris Hair Couture, and Marks and Spencer. She has been featured in a line-up of the world’s most successful black models by photographer Annie Leibovitz

All art created by me

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Dotted Symmetry 100

I am super excited to share this new piece with the community!

The large canvas (24x30in) was quite daunting at first, but the process became my main focus. I never really plan what I am going to draw beforehand, just that I would use a grey background (it wasn’t even the gray I was planning on using haha). Then I picked up my ruler and compass and let my imagination run wild.

Every single dots shares similar traits: they are even and have a nicely rounded shape; however, they each carry their own “DNA” which make them unique!

I love the result and I am looking forward to create even more geometrical pieces like this one. I totally can see those in an art gallery, a museum, or your beautiful home! Meanwhile, it is in my home 😉

I called it: Dotted Symmetry 100

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New Notebooks on Amazon by Daphné Essiet

The Amazing Grace collection features a digitized painting of Daphné Mia Essiet inspired is inspired by Jamaican model, singer, songwriter, record producer and actress Grace Jones.

Check out the notebooks here

I have always loved paper goods, and particularly note books, diaries and planners. I have been wanting to create some new  I had the opportunity to create some featuring my own illustrations, which are now available on Amazon (and with prime shipping)

Please check my entire catalog here

There are over 60 models, so check them out! Here are some of the categories:

Music 

The Musician collection includes 8.5in x 11 (US Letter) manuscript paper notebooks, fret notebook and more and features illustrations musicians /and or instruments.

Check out the collection here

Afro Dancers

list of new notebooks by Daphné Essiet on Amazon Prime
The Afro Dancers Collection feature beautiful dancers wearing large afro celebrating Black hair in its entire glory and meant to normalize black hairstyles in all its form.

Check out the collection here

Afro Fairies

The Afro Fairy Collection includes colorful composition books featuring illustrations of Black fairiesThese are perfect for school notes for children ages 6 through 10 or older.

Check out the collection here

Golden Ladies

The CROWNED: Golden Ladies Collection was created in honor of Women History Month and the CROWN act passing in California in 2020. It features figurative drawings of black women with different hairstyles

Check out the collection here

Birdies

The Birdies Collection includes featuring colorful birds illustrations for kids and grownup.

Check out the collection here

French Papeterie

“Mon Joli Cahier” is a line of notebooks featuring French-Ruled “Grand Carreaux” paper pages as well asFrench-Ruled “Petit Carreaux” paper pages.

Check out the collection here

Again, check out the full catalog here

If This Was Up To Me

If this was up to me, I’d spend my life in school. When I say “if this was up to me” I mean, if I had the financial means to do so. I have been “visualizing it” and “calling it into existence” – probably not hard enough or too many people are doing the same and I just have to be patient…

I dream about money coming out of “nowhere”, meeting a generous billionaire who wants to facilitate someone else’s life: mine!

All I want is a house, my own house – two stories with a well lit attic (cause you know I don’t like food smell in my bedroom and I be cooking) – maybe close to a lake (like in that last “this is us” episode) with a beautiful kitchen with a gas stove – where I can host dinners for my family and friends, a place where they can come spend some time away, a peaceful place – close to nature.

I want a car, doesn’t have to be new – just have to be reliable, with a large trunk and good on gaz so I can take road trip if I want to, or get large canvases to my house when I need to.

I want to be debt-free and have enough extra cash to take some leisure trips if I want to or visit my people in France and if someone needs I can give some of that € away.

Also, have access to higher education so I can get the help i want to craft and edit my book.

I want free+great healthcare so I can do my yearly checkups and tune ups when I need to. That’s all- if this was up to me…

On Frank Ocean “Thinkin Bout You”

channel ORANGE released on July 10, 2012

The Strings – the Vibe – the beat.

Because “longing” is probably one of the most inspiring topics one can write about. The turmoil of wondering is proportional the indifference given by the object of desire… isn’t it something we can collectively feel in our bones and relate to?

what bout you? : Do you think bout me still, or do you not think so far ahead – cause I been thinkin’ ’bout forever…

Abstract is my Art

Elated Strokes # 309, by Daphné Mia Essiet

Abstract is my Art

It all started with
The grainy sound of
A fine tip pen on construction paper.

It reminded me of
When as a child
I would write with my fountain pen on a blotting paper.

In chaotic times,
drawing the lines
brings me solace.

Abstract is my Art
I mimic life’s intricacy
Yet keep it simple,
It reminds me of myself.
It soothes my soul,
My healing process.

People expect my work to reflect
Experiences of
racism or
sexism or
both.

Yes, it can be challenging
to find peace
In a world you
don’t always feel
like you belong.

From the lack of representation
To micro-agressions
And assaults
The trauma we indure
Serves to normalize oppression
Yet we survi-
val mode
Leads to chronic stress

Headaches, brain tumors
& Alzheimer
No wonder women suffer
twice as much
from depression.

In chaotic times,
drawing the lines
brings me solace.

And activates
My parasympathetic nervous system
Countering the fight or flight
Triggered
By a world
You don’t always feel
like you belong.

People expect my work to reflect
Experiences of
racism or
sexism or
both

I give myself a break
And meditate
Combatting my depletion
By Self-consideration

Abstract is my Art
Not to ingratiate myself,
I just allow my hands
To let themselves wander.

Tomorrow, I’ll draw birds,
Or faceless brown bods

Still today
I’ll mimic life’s intricacy
And keep it simple
Cause it reminds me of myself.
It soothes my soul,
My healing process.

It all started with
The grainy sound of
A fine tip pen on construction paper.

Full Circle.

It’s been 3 months already.

It is hard to project yourself when we don’t know what tomorrow holds, which for lots of us, including myself, induces lots of stress.

My way of coping with anxiety has been to spend as much time as possible creating.

I was working with lots of black and metallic colors, then pastels – and here is something kinda new – acrylic paint on white paper.

Hopes it brings some joy in your lives!

All can be found and purchased on my website: https://bit.ly/2ZBokyR

“He Should Not Have Resisted Arrest”

Have you ever found yourself face to face with a bear? I’ve personally never had myself, but the simple thought of it is terrifying to me. 

Most likely, I think that I would try to run as fast and far as possible – understandably so: as human beings, we are built for survival; everything we do is instinctively wired so we can make it out alive the most stressful situations.

According to an article by Nicoletta Lanese published in LiveScience.com, Fight or Flight: The Sympathetic Nervous System here’s what’s happening:

Our sympathetic nervous system directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. A flash flood of hormones boosts the body’s alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles. Breathing quickens, delivering fresh oxygen to the brain, and an infusion of glucose is shot into the bloodstream for a quick energy boost. This response occurs so quickly that people often don’t realize it’s taken place, according to Harvard Medical School.

That said, according to the Human Society of the United States,

“Bears have acute eyesight and hearing. Their sense of smell is seven times greater than a bloodhound’s.”

In the section: “This is what you should do if you encounter a black bear“, one of their advice is: “Stand and face the bear directly. Never run away from or approach him.”

You are basically supposed to remain just here in your terror. Not so easy if you ask.

Well, I think it is a fair assumption that this is how POC feel, especially black males, when stopped by police officers – that is why black parents have The Talk (ain’t about birds and bees).

I hope that you will now understand how insensitive it is to say “He Should Not Have Resisted Arrest”.

Special Ladies

I had all this planned out.

Originally this post was to be published last month in honor of #WomenHistoryMonth but with everything that’s been happening, in New York and the world, the quarantine and whatnot, I had put it aside and focus on other things.

I’m glad to finally do this and share with you some figurative drawing inspired art I created by some of my good good friends!

I let you scroll up and down!

Inspired by Bandleader/Vocalist/Songwriter/Educator Sarah Elizabeth Charles
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Harpist/Band Leader/ Composer Brandee Younger
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by my Urban Planner Gina S. : “Starlights”
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Ethnomusicologist/Producer/Educator Aja Burrel Wood
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Corporate Executive Safrate M.: “Met ton Clignotant”
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
DJ/Writer/Journalist Angelika Beener
Gold pen-touch + gel color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Flutist/Pianist/Producer Anne Drummond
Gold pen-touch + get color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Violinist/Bandleader/Vocalist Chiara Fasi
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by vocalist/bandleader/singer-songwriter Pyeng Threadgill
Gold pen-touch on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in
Inspired by Ria B, lawyer
Gold pen-touch + get color pen on black Cardboard – 8.5in x 11in

Hope you enjoyed the view!

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On The Crown Act

In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth + #theCrownAct I decided to make some figurative work subliming women’s hair.

*The CROWN Act is a California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture by extending protection for both categories under the FEHA and the California Education Code. It is the first legislation passed at the state level in the United States to prohibit such discrimination.

Here’s my story:

Early on I internalized that my curly hair wasn’t “good”. I was so excited to get it straightened and every time it happened people positive comments reinforced this idea.

Once in my early 20s, I went to an interview – first year living in Paris – I had a nice Zara pants and jacket with cute shirt and since I knew that I had to look “professional” I pulled my hair very tight into a ponytail. I can honestly say I had a magnificently manicured hairdo that day. Still the interviewer felt the need to tell me that if I got the job, I would not be able to wear braids or my hair out. I was so used about that type of abuse and discrimination that I enthusiastically responded something like: “of course!”. I got the job.

When I moved to New York, one of the first purchases I made was a curling iron. For me it was a survival tool as important as a getting plates and cooking pans.

I think it was around 2007 I started to “transition” when my friend Fatima sent me this YouTube video of Taren Guy (I think that’s her name) basically explaining how to take care of your natural hair. It took years for me to unlearn and rebuilt the self-confidence and acceptance around my own hair.

In 2015, when I started to work at my last company, I was interviewed by an old colleague of mine Lana from my flight attendant days. One thing was different tho: she had switched her relaxed black hair to beautiful blonde dreadlocks. It felt so good to see a woman being top executive of a company wearing natural hairstyle – and encouraged me to also wear mine the way I wanted in the corporate settings.

When I started to work I decided to confidently wear natural hairstyles, especially when we were meeting with suppliers in Asia and Europe – to make a point to show that my professionalism was in no way impacted by how my hair looked.

It’s been a journey but I can honestly say that all these experiences empowered me to be the confident person I am today and pushed me to deconstruct other preconceived ideas about beauty and power dynamics.

Here’s some of my illustrations!

If you like these illustration, please follow these links below:

Clothing and Poster: HERE

Notebooks: HERE

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On Van Hunt "Hello Goodbye" (The Reimagined)

For clarification, this is a « reimagined » version of Van Hunt first album.

TRIM, 2019

Van Hunt is IMO one of the most underrated artists out there.

Can I say I wish him all the success he desires, but also selfishly want to keep him to myself – sharing with us his artistry in human size intimate acoustic venues?

What can I say about the TRIM – Reimagined album, besides the fact it keeps me in my feelings – big time? I love every bits of it and wished I had known all the lyrics by heart last year at his summer concert downtown Brooklyn last year. The sound of this album feel like a long term relationship where you have beautifully matured into your grown-self and finally accepted that the textures and added layers accumulated over the years are what makes it *perfectly unique*.

I appreciate songs that make me think about my human condition, don’t you? In Hello Goodbye, Van delivers a potent truth: “love shouldn’t be so complicated”- yet, & once again – what would we write about if it was? (Asking for a friend)

Many have been stranded in *that* relationship – you know- with someone who can’t be in touch with their own feelings (you may have been that mofo yourself – shiiiiiittttt).

Well it’s healthy to bring what’s bothering us so openly – and almost taking the ultimate stand – not judging, just saying… it’s the first step towards untangling that type of situationships.

Hope it all worked out!

Giza Pyramids

Original Drawing – Gold pen-touch by @sakuraofamerica and Acrylic Paint on 6 ply black paper 28in x 22in – available on Saatchi

The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, and most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance. (Wiki)

I was frankly inspired this past week. I have never been to Egypt, but I visited Mexican pyramids and there were already pretty grandiose. I hope one day ❤

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This is how it would look in your living room – Mockup by Saatchi

Ohhhh, Artsy, Artsy Me…

« The circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God (‘God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’ (Hermes Trismegistus).

It makes me feel but I feel peaceful watching these! Check out some of my latest creations, soon available on Saatchi

Gold pen-touch by @sakuraofamerica on black paper.

8.5 in. x 11 in.
12in. x 12in
22in. x 28 in.

On Anderson Paak “Your Prime”

Malibu, January 15, 2016

So, let’s start at the beginning: it is for me physically impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to AP. Like he has an ON switch for my happy mood (I can’t think of anyone else making me feel that way on the top of my head.)

When I first heard him I thought: James Brown meets Kendrick Lamar for some reasons (that’s how I felt- still feel).

This is a gift but it also can be very deceiving; for instance, Your Prime is full of cynicism: “Know what she want and she know I ain’t shit but a savage” sounds very dysfunctional, right? Yet the way he says it makes me want to try it anyway, well if I were 23 and live on a beautiful campus – that is… which is not the case, since I am a GAW (Grown A$$ WoMan)

Still on repeat tho…

On Amy Winehouse’s “I Heard Love Is Blind”

Frank, released on October 20th, 2003.

Authenticity is an interesting quality. It is admired but also feared by those who pretend to be someone other than themselves so to be liked by many. Her genuineness made Amy special – and also very vulnerable – but let’s talk about that song right here:

With an extreme nonchalance she delivers her simple and unapologetic truth: she was longing for her man. I know the lyrics sounds cold blooded but I have to respect how candid and honest her explanation was. Polyamorously…

IMO, the tune climaxes she call for forgiveness “How can I put it so you can understand: I did not let him hold my hand

Rest in Power sis.