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Minnesota artists have created a new drawing tool for expressing black hairstyles

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Interviewer: As you’ve noticed, there aren’t many black cartoon characters or fantasy characters like magicians, fairies, or mermaids. When paging a coloring book, there aren’t many black or brown letters. But thanks to the next guest, that’s changing.

In 2020, Minnesota-born Vegalia Jean-Pierre launched a TikTok account and found a viewer of a series of digital brushes that draw black-haired textures such as braids, curls, rocks, and twists. It was a very good move. She currently has nearly 600,000 social media followers and a $ 50,000 grant to grow her business. By the way, these brushes can be found in Clip Studio Paint, Photoshop, Procreate, and other platforms. Welcome to Minnesota, Vegalia.


Interviewer: Thank you for being with us. Thank you for your time. For example, your video using a digital hairbrush has spread through word of mouth. They are really fun to watch. Can you explain what it looks like to the listener?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: So if you can imagine the brush you traditionally use, then it will just come out as a normal stroke. But with digital tools, you can create a kind of stamp pattern that can be repeated over and over again. And there weren’t many options for different hair textures on the market. I have straight hair that is built into certain apps, but no curly hair, braids, or such textures.

So, one day I was drawing a work, but it took about 4 hours to draw these micro blades. This is a really small blade. And I thought there might be a better solution to this. There may be an easier way to draw braids and curls so that more people can draw it, draw people in color, and draw black letters.

Therefore, I came up with this system pattern because it is useful for creating curl patterns and blades. When you draw with a digital pen or Apple Pencil on your tablet or iPad, you’ll see the texture of this blade or curl. So you don’t have to do much work and you can create amazing characters you’ve never developed before.

Interviewer: And you decided to make a video of this and put it on TikTok, which obviously only broadened your horizons. What did you think about it?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: I was very shocked when the TikTok video exploded. Before that, I was creating fun content. We weren’t doing much during the pandemic, so I was just making fun content for me. And oh, I thought these brushes were cool. I like to use them. Would you like to post it on social media? So I did.

Most of my videos usually took hours for me to create. The first video of my brush wasn’t too much thought, so it took 5 minutes to complete. And it reached 6 million views. So I was awesome, this really seemed like something. People really want this product, and I need to develop more. So I did. And now there are many collections.

Interviewer: And you were invited to the TikTok for Black Creatives Incubator Program. It must also have been a big open door for you.

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, it responded a bit to everything that happened in 2020, especially in the summer of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movements. That’s why TikTok wanted to do something to support Black creatives. Then, after a three- to four-month program, how to connect with the brand, how to market yourself, basically how to quote, unquote, influencer, or become a creator with a career on social media. You told me. And it was very helpful. And it was really helpful to know how to market yourself on social media. Because after the program started and finished, it was when I started my brush. So I was very ready for all that virality.

Interviewer: I must also say, I loved your melanin magic coloring book. I thought it was beautiful. And I would like you to talk a little about the importance of expressing a black and brown face with something as simple as a coloring book.

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. And coloring book-that is, you can go to the store and get a coloring book for the magical girl. There aren’t many black characters among them. And even on TV, when you’re watching a character, you don’t see many black characters, especially dark-skinned black characters with twisted hair textures or really short hair textures.

So we gathered 14 artists from all over the world and contacted them. I said, are you interested in making a coloring book featuring all these black magical beings? And they said, yeah, that would be great. That’s why I created this book in a couple of months. 35 kinds of magic characters, mermaids, fairies, and magical girls will appear. Very diverse and very popular. And especially it’s really exciting to see that all very young children can use it to see themselves in coloring books or as magical beings in general.

Interviewer: Did you get any feedback from young children?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: They have loved this book. I didn’t want it to be exclusively for black children, so parents of different children who painted with this book sent me multiple pictures from different backgrounds. I hope it benefits all children. I would like to express more of the black beings so that I can see them in that space. So it’s very exciting to see them all really excited about this book. Especially because my parents know they didn’t see them growing up with such characters. So it was a really, really good reaction.

Interviewer: And when you were growing up, weren’t you looking at yourself?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: No. That is, many characters pretend to be black, but they weren’t. Because it’s like what you had to do. I loved the Powerpuff Girls and spies completely, and I’m a buttercup-that is, a blossom-I’m not-no matter who has black hair, I’m, yeah, she’s black That’s because it’s kind, just what you had to do as a black kid who grew up with few magic characters out there.

Interviewer: I would like to ask you about being an artist. I have always admired the art and story of another artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. He is absolutely afraid of every moment of his life and has never prevented me from doing one thing. I wanted to do it. What were some of the hurdles you had to jump to reach this stage of your career?

Well, when I was growing up, my parents always supported my art career very much. But I think the advisors were very supportive when I was in school. In fact, when I graduated from high school, my adviser told me not to pursue art. Pursue something more realistic. At that time, I was like a full-fledged art. So when I heard that, I was very devastating.

But fortunately, I did a lot of work. And that’s why I went to school. And I soon realized that I didn’t like business. So I went back to the art side and did product design and industrial design. But yes, there are various hurdles. I was always the only black man in many of these spaces, but it didn’t really stop pursuing what I wanted because I had very encouraging parents, and they both you Should not be limited to your dreams. So I always worked hard, trying to do whatever I wanted, and believing that I could do anything with the right people around me.

Interviewer: How about art nourishing your soul?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: Art is very expressive to me. I’ve been an artist since I was a baby. It was like an extension of myself. It feels like you can put a pen on paper, digital art, or photos. Since I’m taking pictures, I can express emotions, express emotions, and tell stories. I love storytelling. Whether it’s very dramatic or very simple, it feels like a coloring book in itself. It’s difficult to express in words. Because that is my own essence.

Interviewer: You’re on this path, where would you like to take this? So where do you think you are heading when you see the crystal ball?

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: I want to make the team even bigger. I have a small team now, and it’s great to connect with people who have similar goals. My goals now and in the last few years have been to create more diverse expressions and inclusions, especially stories, products that create visual representations of these characters, whether black characters, Native American or not. , Or was to create a tool. ,Asian. Currently we are focusing on black space. But I believe there is a lot to do in the inclusive area. That’s what I want to do with all the projects currently underway and in the future.

Interviewer: Wow. thank you. Thank you for today.

VEGALIA JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. Thank you very much.

Interviewer: Vegalia Jean-Pierre is a digital creator in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. More information on her work on Vegalia can be found on her website and you can follow her on all social media platforms. She participates in all of them and she also does all of her own social media. This is a daunting task. She is wonderful.