Local Artist Spotlight: TT The Artist
By Abdu Ali Eaton
Hailing from Florida, TT the Artist has captured Charm City’s heart, becoming one of Baltimore’s most celebrated visual and performance artists. She’s the ultimate multitasker—not only does she perform hip-hop and pop music, and creates art, she also mentors, teaches and volunteers for two nonprofit organizations. She is debuting her first EP “She Rockin,” is one of the personalities in CW Baltimore’s “Keepin It Real,” and has a t-shirt line called “Artist Tees.”
CBSBaltimore.com: Being aware of the world’s realities is an important tool to have as an artist. What challenges do you like to confront on your own?
TT: Time is my biggest challenge. It’s the one thing that can’t be bought or sold. Time is more valuable than money. New ideas are generated everyday and it’s like running a never-ending race, not knowing if you will ever get to your destination. The only thing I am 100 percent sure is one day I won’t be around. One day everything will stop and all that will remain is the imprint I have left in this world and the impressions I have made on people through my existence.
CBSBaltimore.com: How do you achieve individuality through your art? What mediums do you like to use to convey your messages?
TT: Individuality comes with acceptance. Once you accept who you are, something changes in how you operate. Art is a visual platform of communication. It’s a way to express unfiltered thoughts straight from the mind of the artist. I prefer to utilize flexible mediums such as video painting, screen printing, photography and collage, as well as drawing when I create. For me, video is a medium that brings everything together. Videos allows me to get information out to the public and allows my work to be seen through a variety of outlets.
CBSBaltimore.com: I know you do a lot of gender-related art, how do you feel about society’s need for gender classification?
TT: I have a big issue with labels and gender classification. This goes back to the ideas of acceptance. I think so many people are confused not just about their sexuality but their identity as well. People are looking for validation and direction through people instead of investigating and tuning into their own inner voice. Labels force people to have to pick a group to identify as. Sometimes there isn’t one group you may identify with so for the rest of your life you’re fighting to do things the “right” way based off of what society labels you as. We don’t always live up to classifications and it seems when we don’t, we automatically start to lose a sense of our identity.
CBSBaltimore.com: Being from Florida, how did living in Baltimore influence you as an artist?
TT: The transition from Florida to Baltimore, from Baltimore to New York, then back to Baltimore wasn’t the smoothest move. However, Baltimore has taught me many lessons in my personal and creative walks of life. I have become a lot more aggressive, my strokes are bolder, and my ideas sharper. Baltimore has a very rich culture and I embrace the good and the bad throughout my work.
CBSBaltimore.com: Baltimore is a small city; some might find it hard to find inspiration here. Where do you go or what do you do to find your inspiration?
TT: I party. It’s nothing like a good party in Baltimore. I’m very intrigued by human behaviors and social networks. A common theme in my work is extracting from real life experiences and personalities I come across. The nightlife of Baltimore city inspires me. Music is another source of inspiration.
CBSBaltimore.com: How would you like your art to influence Baltimore?
TT: I would like to penetrate the Baltimore community in a way where the community can see a positive reflection of itself through my work. Baltimore is a rough city and at times very divided. As I come across different social circles or cliques I find that many of them do share the same ideologies. I hope that my works can create a form of unity in a divided community.
CBSBaltimore.com: Do you think the scene in Baltimore is vibrant? What do you like about it?
TT: Baltimore is more on the cool color end of the spectrum. It’s a day and night, hot and cold type of city. You never know what you’re going to get into when you start the day off. I enjoy walking downtown the most because everything is so central — the galleries, the bars, the clubs– it’s so convenient.
CBSBaltimore.com: You are an artist’s artist. You explore many different ways of expressions, from music to graphic design. Which form of expression speaks to you more?
TT: They all do the same for me. It all comes from the same place. It’s the same work, just created different art tools. There’s a big part of me that I pour into all of my art forms. I’m happy I have so many outlets of expression and that I don’t have to limit myself.
CBSBaltimore.com: What’s next for you?
TT: Presently, I am working on a documentary entitled “DARK CITY: Beneath The Beat” exploring the Baltimore Club music and dance culture. As a part of a fellowship I received through the Creative Alliance of Baltimore I will be showcasing a screening of the film on Sept. 10. You can visit www.tttheartist.com for details.
I am also working on my debut EP “She Rockin,” produced by, Murder Mark, who City Paper voted Best Baltimore Club Music producer. It’s set to be released this year. You can also expect to see some new paintings and videos. For all the updates follow me on Twitter.
Abdu Ali Eaton is an arts advocate and writer living in Baltimore. His creative works can be found at EatOnThis.com.