We all got different ways to express ourselves through art. Some can sing others can dance…Don’t be fooled by this innocent cute face this young lady can draw! I’m not talking about stick figures…! I was subjugated by her paintings…
Mature, gifted, talented, and passionate Tatou Dembele is a young Ivoirian- Canadian woman who was born with a pencil in her hand. She takes the art of portraying to another level. A pride for the continent! With more than 60 000 followers the young entrepreneur is also the founder of Ivorian Food a website dedicated Ivorian gastronomy.
Follow your heart and intuitions. Be consistent. Never let any negative energy invade your mind and space. Be mindful of you circles. To top it all, be confident about yourself because you are absolutely worthy.
My very first drawings are in a safe place with my dear momma. She actually kept all my drawings in a binder and some of them are framed in her office. I was 1 or 2 years old when I was realizing my first drawings with felt pens and I guess that my mum took the initiative to hand me papers since I was ruining her documents (laugh)! I was’nt really drawing. It was more about expressing raw children feelings on a pieces of paper (laugh)! I do remember that it was fun!
How and when did you find out you could draw/paint?
Actually, I never really “found out” that I could draw or paint. Back then in school, I always had good grades in every things that had to do with art and craft. I was even helping my friends get better grades and they were always complimenting me. Well, I was just having fun!
On a more serious note, it is during the year 2013 that I started drawing with more rigor. At this point, I started developing my own technics of art and I feel great about that!
Were your parents supportive of you being an artist?
I believe that one do not become an artist. One is an artist: an artist of his or her own life that communicates and reasons with his or her surrounding by any means. Thus, I guess that we are all artists and it is only fair that I express myself trough my art which is something natural to me just like cooking or sewing is natural to someone else. From this angle of understanding, I comprehend, why, I never had any major issue with my parents concerning my activities. On the contrary, they contributed a lot into my art projects when I was younger, and God knows I had plenty ideas (laugh)!
Now, this is a serious compliment and I must thank you first (laugh)! Well, drawing faces feels more appealing to me. To me, the eyes for example reflect everything in a person and I like the fact that I can grab that special thing in people’s eyes and reproduce it on paper. A portrait is not just some king of an easy drawing.. It is the reflection of a soul by another soul. It’s a subjective photography. This means that the closer I get to reality (which is here again another viewer subjectivity) the better I get. I am absolutely thrilled when I hand my portraits because I love my client’s reactions. I absolutely love the fact that I can create all kind of emotions within the people. This is a blessing and this is why I love portraits so much!
What or how do you feel when you’re painting?
When I paint, I feel great. I simply feel like doing what I love! I am excited and calm. Sometimes, I start with have a projet in mind and I end up with something competely different. I like to let my mind wander when I paint. You know, life can get very logical sometimes: A leads to B that leads to C and for you to go to E, you must cross D.
When I paint, I can go from E to D. I can stop there if I want. I can come back again and go from H to U and so on. I am absolutely free, within the limits of my canvas. What a contradiction (laugh)!
You’re a foodie like me what kind of food or drink inspires you?
I like colors. I love everything that is contrasted and full of colors: Vegetable salads, fruit salads, fresh virgin cocktails, grilled fish especially during summer time. I love BBQ’s. I love african meals. I love sorbets. What a beautiful question. You had my mind going to the moon and back (laugh) I do have a website dedicated to the IvoriannFood: Ivorianfood.com. I suggest you to take a look at this!
How does your background impact your art?
I am a young and educated african lady living outside of Africa. I am aware of my chances and I am working hard toward my goals. Immediately, I believe that I am an asset for my continent. Everything that I sketch or paint is a reflection of my culture, that “thing” that defines who we truly are.
On one hand, I am deeply attached to my roots and I believe that we can see this into my sketches and paintings. Most of all I love painting black women and children. To me, they are the most vulnerable and I feel it is a great thing to raise awarness.
On the other hand, I get emotional sometimes (laugh) and my everyday life and surrounding are also great sources of inspiration for what I produce!
How has your art changed overtime?
I believe that I draw and paint with more maturity now more than before. I explore new subjects. I get involved into new projects that actually matter not only to me. I continue to have fun but more rigorously. I had the chance to practice a lot my drawing skills and my sketches and portraits are starting to look more realistic, I guess.
What memorable response have you had to your work?
All the responses and comments that I receive are truly warm and encourage me to keep this up. The most beautiful among them all was the one from this young lady:
“This is the most beautiful gift I ever received, it even made me cry”. They communicate with so much emotion.. It is lovely and so refreshing!
How do you react to critics?
Constructive criticism is absolutely welcome. How would I be able to do better if I do not take into concideration the feebacks? “Tatou, this artwork looks good, but it would be better if you do something about the proportions for example…” I like this kind of feedback because I can pinpoint my weaknesses and work on them. I crave for constructive critics.
Is there any celebrity who bought their portraits?
I never even thought about selling a portrait to a celebrity (laugh)! All I want to do is gift the ones that I draw and that have the chance to meet with their portraits. In return, they offer more than the material things.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Summer 2015. As I was complaining to my father that people can be so mean at times, he interrupted me and told me, looking right through my eyes:
“You are humble and that is good, but Tatou, you have to be very proud of yourself and never let anyone or anything affect you to the point of not being able to move forward”.
What are your next projects?
I am thinking about my first art exposition and it is something that I have to work on. I am thinking of giving art sessions to my younger peers so that we can learn together and have fun while doing so. I see this as an extracurricular activity.
I also want to work on IvorianFood.com, my home business. IvorianFood is the reference on social networks in terms of image and recipes sharing when it comes to Ivorian cuisine. I am going to put IvorianFood on a whole other level.
Twitter/Facebook/ Pinterest/IG @tatoudembele