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Layering Photography & Design

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Layering Photography & Design with Temi Coker

Temi Coker, Kenna Klosterman

Layering Photography & Design

Temi Coker, Kenna Klosterman

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1. Layering Photography & Design with Temi Coker


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Layering Photography & Design with Temi Coker

Mhm. Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome back to Creative Live TV and another episode of our We are photographers Podcast. This is our podcast, both video and audio, where we take you to the homes, studios of photographers, videographers, artists all over the world s so that we can connect with their stories, connect with each other and understand that we're not alone in this creative journey that we're all on. So we're super excited for today's guest who's here for the very first time on Creativelive. And his name is Tammy Coker. And Tommy is a multidisciplinary artist. Hey was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and now he resides in Dallas, Texas, with his beautiful wife. After Tina, they actually co run a studio called Coker Studios. He was an adobe creative resident, Um, in 2018, 2019. He's currently an Adobe Arrow resident, which I want to talk about because it's really cool stuff that came. These creating right now blows my mind on and you will see if you ...

haven't seen his work yet that his mix of vibrant colors and textures and the work that he layering these beautiful images with bright, bold graphic design work. Um truly comes from his upbringing in Nigeria and his love for the African diaspora so super excited to bring on for the very first time. Mr. Tommie Coker. Tamie. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to talk today. Awesome. Well, before we get going, I just want to encourage everybody who is tuning in online to, you know, we love to give shoutouts when people are tuning in to the live broadcast. So whether you're watching on creative live TV on our website, there's a chat button up in the top right hand corner. Give us a shout out. Let us know where you are. Same thing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or watching their, uh, let us know and let us know if you have questions for Team Mia's well throughout the show. So get those coming in. But for starters, um, let's just dive into the acknowledging. The fact that right now has been a pretty crazy year we're recording right now is already October, October 2020. Uh, and and right before we actually started the live broadcast, you and I were chatting and, you know, you live in Texas, and I had no idea. But you actually knew George Floyd. And, um, and we started to talk about art as a tool of healing as a tool of grieving. And so I just wonder if you can share with our audience for the story that you were telling me about And, um, and and go from there? Yeah. You know, with all that has been happening with police brutality and, um, African Americans in the United States, it's been it's always just seemed like a back to back pain. And we never had time to grieve. And so, you know, when I heard about the George Floyd incident, um, it was it was a lot, you know, my pastor in Houston. Um, Pete in goal. Oh, um, there was a church called Resurrection Houston, which was the pastor of. And so what we did was we would bring, uh, would bring church to the community, um, to the third World community. And, um, uh, this is a community that George Floyd was at when we brought it there. And so I remember seeing him helping us bring chairs Thio put on the court and helping us with baptism and things like that. And, um, when I heard about what happened, it just crushed me. Like I I couldn't watch the video. I'm never gonna watch the video, but I just I just remember, um, just feeling defeated and just I felt like I was in a dark space, you know, like, how could they let this happen? And then the media was trying to spin it and talking about the things that were in his body and all of those things, and it's like he didn't deserve to die the way he did. He is a human. He was made in the image of God, you know, I didn't know him as closely as my pastor and other people at the church did by remember, um, seeing him in passing and, um, him being part of the community And, uh, you know, they call them Big Floyd there. And whenever we had events like George Floyd was like the person that you would go to to kind of get approval, you know, because everyone respected him that community, um and yeah, and then just seemed like the text messages or the Dems that he would send some of my friends in Houston even though he was not in Houston anymore. Um, it was It was It was interesting because you could really see his heart, you know, for, um, for people. And you know, his heart for telling people about Jesus and how Jesus changed his life. And it was just inspiring to me because he was so unapologetic about it. And, yeah, he still had his struggles, like we all do. But, um, genuinely, he had a good heart, and he, um he was a good person. I didn't think that, um, he shouldn't have gone out the way he did. I didn't know how to grieve, so I didn't do anything for, like, two days. And then I think, the third day, um, I saw the picture of him that he took on his cell phone, which I thought was nice. And I just sat down crying and had my IPad. And I was just making art. I didn't know what I was gonna make. I didn't know what was gonna look like. I just knew that it was a grieving process for me and, um I ended up making something, and I loved it. And I was like, This is how I want him to leave this earth. This is the George Floyd that I remember seeing vibrant, colorful, um, a lively guy. Um and so, Yeah. So I met the art, and I shared it, and a lot of people resonated with it. Andi got a lot of attention, but for me, it was more so away from me to grieve because I didn't have any words. Um, and so yeah, and I realized, you know, again, art, it's a good way to grieve. It's a good way to heal its's just it's a powerful tool. Um, and you can use it for both. So, yeah, thank you for sharing that story. And, um, and just so many layers, um, within, um, whether it's the the personal healing, the helping other people, Um, see George Floyd in, um, this, you know, in bold, bright colors and in a different light than like you said with the media is is portraying or seeing, uh, and then But again, back for your own a somebody who actually had a personal connection and relationship. Um, how have you then. Since then, the you know, additional art that you have been creating. Well, let me back up a sec. And when somebody, because you have a very unique style. Um, And when somebody asks you about this, um, layering and you know the images with the bright colors. Um, I know you talk about, um your style focuses on invoking emotion through color patterns and storytelling. And so how do you describe your style Thio somebody when they ask you when they haven't seen your work? Yeah, I think I think my style is just merging those two mediums photography and graphic design together. But I think the key thing that I want people to notice in my work is that my designs are there to enhance the beauty, not take away from it. You know, I think you know, even before I got into design, I did photography. Um, And whenever I took pictures of people, I realized that it was my job to help them see the beauty that's already there. My job was never to make them look beautiful because they already are, you know? And so it was my job to capture the beauty that was already there and help them see that. And so I took that same approach from photography into design and even the pictures the way they're taking, they actually are strong by themselves. And so I make sure that you know, the design elements that I put in all those things enhanced that beauty. So whether it's, you know, doing things on the face so that the attention can be on the face and the eyes or, um, maybe putting more emphasis on their clothing so that that way you can see everything as a whole. Those were the things that I look for. And, um, I add into my designs and some of the pictures I take and some of them I find from Adobe Stock or on Splash or things of those nature. Um, but yeah, and and my thing is like I want people to, like, really take your time and appreciate art and look at the artwork because if you think about it back in the day, posters used to be like this. It was almost vintage vintage. The thing you know, like you would get like one of 100 or one of 50 and people would get these posts and put them in the room posters of their favorite artists and things like that, right? But now we're in this digital age, and we're just, like, scroll, double, tap and pass. And so for me, I've always wanted to make sure that I I could make our work that I'm proud of, but also art that would make people stop and think I remember, you know, before the verdict for Briana Taylor came out probably a month before that. I made a poster. Um, it's actually poster 100 from season two. And what I did was it was a poster of African American man he had on the jacket. He was looking this way. Eso you were seeing the back of his head and the jacket, But then on the middle of his color at the back, um, you have to zoom in to see it. You could tell it was it Was it people could. People were thinking it was either design or words, but then you zoomed into it and it says, Arrest the cops, that murder barrel beyond the Taylor. And so it was just like art is a way to grab people's attention. I love adding little Easter eggs to my work because I feel like the people who really appreciate those things and appreciate my work will find those informations on DSO. Uh, and so, yeah, I love what I do. You know, sometimes some of the ideas or just random. Sometimes I do have intention behind the things I'm trying to convey, but yeah, I just I love color. Color has always been in my life. It's been part of my culture in Nigeria. Um, and now I can apply that to my work, you know? So, yeah, I need to go back and and look at that poster. No. 1 100 as well, Because I have not zoomed in, um, Thio. Find that Easter egg. Um and but I wanna take a step back and explain, um, your poster a day Siri's that you were just mentioning volume. There's volume one and volume two where? Well, let's just you explain it to everybody and sort of a red. The why behind it? Because I think that's equally really valuable lesson for people. Yeah, So I I Really when I first started my poster a day stuff. Um, I was my friend Mac, Delaware and Starbucks, and he had started it 30 days before me. And so I was like, Yo, I want to get back into design and get better and be as good and designers and photography because I knew that if I wanted to work for anybody, I could now leverage those two skills. And so I started doing the poster day stuff, and, um, I really believe in documenting your process and your story and your journey. Even right now, I still have the first few pictures that I took when I first started photography in 2011. So my Facebook, it literally has the titles literally Nikon d 3100. And that was my first camera. And so I can always go back to that and reference like how I started because I think as we progress in our career, sometimes we get lost or we get confused or we get, um, we start to feel that we're not growing, and that's not true. We're just comparing ourselves to other people. And so for me, it was like a way for me to actually compare myself to my previous self on dso with my poster day stuff. I did the exact same thing. So my website I have posted number 12 365. And then I was like, You know what? I feel like I've grown a lot. Let me do a volume two or a season two. Andi, That's what I started. Um, now I do kind of wish that I didn't break those two apart. I feel like it would have been cool for me to just continue from 365 to 3. 66 you know, and I'm still, like, considering going back and changing it. It is a lot of work. So I'm like, I might just keep it as Season two and then do a Season three and keep going. Um, but yeah, I think it's important to, like, document your process, especially like this year. Like, keep all the things you made this year. And then when you get to the middle of next year, go back and see if you've grown. You know, um and disappointed. I have I have an external hard drive wardrobe. Oh, actually, that has my work from 2015, which is when I started design. Well, no. 2014, which is when I started designing up till now. And I'm just going to keep adding stuff in there so I can always go back and see what the what have you seen that you have? How you've changed developed because a first of all kudos to you, for that is a ton of work on It's not. It's different than even just a photo a day project because, um, it's not that I mean, I'm a photographer, not that were often it, like Not that going out and shooting a photo day isn't a certain level of commitment and work. Then Theoden inal levels of what you're creating. Um, I'd imagine, is even more of a time investment. So what? What did you learn or see from yourself from when you started Volume one to bend a volume to like? Are there themes? Are there? Oh yeah, they're definitely themes, and it's interesting because if you go through it you see, like I'm trying, remember what day was so like? Poster. I'll give it. I'll give an example. I don't remember the exact poster, but let's say poster 30 two poster 45 was That was like a two week period where I was like, really developing this new theme, and I really liked it. And so there was. There was a time where I was focused on, like, put in patterns on dark scan, um, people, and just like giving the vibrancy and all of that all of those things. There's another time where I was just messing around with statues and putting peoples face on it and giving like, ah, very nice feeling. Look, there's another time where I was adding fish fins to humans, and that kind of was kind of where I was like, Oh, I think I'm onto something here. And then I started messing around with, like, animals and putting them on on hairs and things like that. And so, um, it wasn't until season two that I started, like messing around with shapes and portrait, because in the past I did that, but I didn't do it. I didn't do it. To the extent that I'm doing it now, it was kind of like, Oh, I'm just gonna put a circle here in the square here. But now, like the shapes are part of the face their part of the anatomy of, um, the design. And, you know, But of course, I always start off with the photograph that is compelling. That is strong. That is, um, captivating. Um and you know, a lot of the ah lot of the people that I use in my work or black people. And that's because, like, I want people that look like me to see themselves in my art because I think representation is very important. And I think that, um, people who struggle with the with feeling like their skin is too dark. I feel like my artwork, um, shows them that know your skin is actually beautiful. And it's important Thio keep your reaffirming that beauty and and I read something, um, again, going back to this, like, evoking emotion through color pattern storytelling. Um, and now I'm not sure because I copied and pasted it is a little note to myself, but that some of the work that you know your bodies of work are representing black joy. Um, because, you know, being full of vibrancy in life and that is you know what? You you whether it is the colors adding to whether it's a dark image or not that shapes and such. Um, you know, this year, like you said, um, there's been, um, so much suffering and so much negativity in the media. And so can you Can you talk to us about how black joy has entered again into your work? Um, showing that beauty and what reactions you've received from, you know, people who follow you. Yeah, I think you know, I think that I think that my work, um, sparks joy to people, and I'm really thankful for it. And, um, I think examples are just like you see younger kids who go to my shop and, you know, their moms air with them and they're like, Mom, I want that one, you know? And the mom was like, Why she was like, she looks like me. You know, Stuff like that is, you know, like it's priceless. You know, you can't pay me enough, um, for those type of moments, And those encouraged me to keep creating type of work that I make. And I just think that, you know, it's important to find joy even in these times, You know, if you think about our ancestors like they found joy. Um, even in the in the slavery and the hard times they were singing, you know, they had him, um, they had, you know, that was where, you know, jazz, blues and all those things were created, you know, And, um and those brought them joy. And those have been passed down from generation to generation. And so that's why I feel like even with my work, I want, um, people that look like me to see themselves see how beautiful there are. Um, see how, um it can affirm their beauty. And also, I just think that black is a beautiful canvas, you know, and God made us that way, and we should be proud of it. And I am proud of it. And I'm going to keep being unapologetically proud of being black and whatever ways that I can, um, to continue sending that message that black is beautiful. I will continue to do that, you know, And with my adobe arrow, the residency is almost over. And so right now I'm We have 12 weeks were on week nine, and now we have three weeks to work on a project and So my project is, um I think I I think I decided today because I was talking with them. I think today I decided that my party is gonna be centered around the black woman is art and so expressing what that looks like. Um and I might My sister doesn't know this year about my hit her up to kind of do a poetry or something so you can experience it, walk around the art, could see a rotate, and then you can hear music and you can hear voices. And so, yeah, I'm excited about it that I just got chills because I can just based on you have a piece that's on your instagram feed. Uh, that is a portrait of a beautiful black woman with it, you know, big earrings, hair pick and on. And then it was when you were kind of starting the adobe air a residency. And then, you know, you swipe and you see it turned, you know, and she's and so it's like turning in three D. And so I can see talk about, you know, evolving your skill set and evolution like I could see how now, creating that as a final peace is a beautiful project. Uh, for people who aren't familiar with Adobe Arrow. Um, what is it and what are we even talking about? What is, you know, augmented reality? And just how did you get interested in it? Yeah, augmented reality. Pretty much is like you bring three D objects or even two objects into an already living space. But you can only see it from your device or whatever you're wearing. Um, and adobe Arrow is like an avenue to make that happen. The cool thing about adobe arrows that is connected with all of the adobe APS. And so you just save your PS, Dean into the cloud, and then you can drop it into Adobe Arrow and just work from there. So it's seamless. It's easy. It's simple. Um, and what I love about it is that someone can actually, like order a poster from my website and I will put a QR code on on my packaging, send it over to them whenever they Whenever they received the artwork, they scan the QR code and it opens it up in the adobe arrow AP or even on online and asked them to download the APP, and once they do that now, they pulled their phone out and it says, Look for a surface and so they find the surface. And now the artwork that they just bought is now in their living room. Big No. And they can take it with them anywhere because I think it does save to your phone so you can go outside, pull up the adobe arrow app and bring that to life. And so I'm just imagining, like someone coming like me. Let's say Let's say I come, I come visit you and you have my artwork on the wall and let's say I'm somebody else and I come in there and you're like, Hey, and I'm like, Hey, I loved this art piece like who made it and all of those things. You start talking about it, but you say, Hey, let me put up my phone. You put your phone next to it or you scan the QR code, and now the person that came to visit you can actually go in and walk through the art and see it in detail on DSO. Those are things that I'm like thinking of and planning ahead to do, like the art piece that you talked about. I did one just like that for Twitter. And I'm gonna make it a limited print. Um, starting in January 2021. Um, but between between December and January, I'm gonna work on making a augmented reality for that piece. So when people buy it, they get the cure code and they get access to it. And they can actually, um um, see it in the living room, you know, and I'm thinking maybe I can add music to it. I can add a poem or something. Um, but yeah, I just want people to be able to experience the artwork and not just like at first. It was just like I was like, I don't just want people to just see it and double tap. I want them to actually feel it. So I started a print shop, but now I'm like, If they can walk around it, that's a whole different ball game. It really is. Um, it's I'm just smiling because it's super exciting and, like, just takes everything. You know, you went from photography, layering the graphic design on top of that and now like to the three. D um, on beyond that to this, like argument id reality. Um, and it's such a cool just such a cool evolution. Um, everybody, as we're talking about this, if you want to see what we're talking about, you know, be sure to go Thio Tommy's Instagram, which is just at Tammy Coker. T e m I c c o k e r um, And of course, later we'll we'll have that in the show, notes and all of that, but just pause right now and go see what we're talking about. Eso You mentioned that Twitter that you created one for Twitter and I read that both you're commissioned by Facebook. You are commissioned by Twitter as well as part of June teeth earlier this year, um, to create original pieces. Can you talk about, like what that meant for you to be hired by Facebook and Twitter and like, how? That what that led up to and again like what the response has been from being part of that or how that has if that shifted your career or what have you? Yeah, I think you know, I think companies like Twitter or Facebook hiring me. Um, it was it was amazing. And it was also like confirming I don't want to stay affirming. I think I was already affirmed. And just those priceless moments where people are like, I'm getting this poster because it looks like me, or I love this because I see myself in it. That was that's all the information I needed, you know, Um, but working with Facebook and, um, Twitter, it was kind of like confirming that these companies air looking at the type of work that I do and it is matching, you know, the values that they are trying to convey because I think as black artists, sometimes you get scared to just do all things black. You know, because we want Thio. I want to be able to reach everybody. Um, and I'm here to say that it's okay because they are white artists who only work with what you know. I'm saying and so it's like, Why Why why do we feel bad for wanting to just focus on our communities and create work that reflect our community's and uplift our communities on DSO? You know, Juneteenth is a big thing here in Texas you know, because this was, um this is where, uh and I think it was in government in Texas, which is not too far away from here, where the slaves finally heard that they had been freed, but they didn't know that they had been freed for for a while. And so yeah, So it was a celebration. And I got to talk, um, to Facebook about why it's important on den they I was just talking with them because they hired me to do a design for another girl as the spokesperson for the campaign. And they're like, we really like how you're talking about this. And you're from Texas. Can you actually record yourself doing this so we can use you as the spokesperson? I was like, Whoa, I was not ready for that, you know? So I had, like, I had, like, a few days to, like, design myself, which is weird, because I don't really do that. I had to design myself for the campaign and all of this stuff, but it was awesome. And I loved it. And, um, the girl that designed for she also got to speak about it, and I got to meet her, and I got to send her a free print as well. So that was cool. Um, and with Twitter, I just love their campaign. This is my second time working with Twitter. Um, the they were out and they were like, you know, hey, we have this campaign called Tweet Black Joy. And I was like, and this was in honor of Juneteenth and celebrating, Um, this commemoration and all of those things and I just love I love the title. I loved the campaign and made some work. Uh, that week sent it over to them, and they said it was gonna be the header for different Twitter channels. But mine got to be the head. Or for Twitter's actual Twitter, which was awesome. You know, it was flattering. I woke up in the morning. Jack follows me now, and it was just it was just awesome. And then I posted on Twitter. I mean, on Instagram as well. And a lot of people like, yo, I need the sprint. I need the sprint. But my contract with Twitter was like, Hey, I can't print this till January for a few months. And so I was like Okay, that's fine. So I told people, Hey, wait till wait till January. I'll have this print out, I'm limited, and I'll sign everything, but yeah, And it was It was amazing, you know? And I made another word called Black Boy Fly and I partner with a lady. I forgot her last name. Her. I think it's Barrett. But Patricia read. I believe she, uh I partner with her to print my artwork and ship it out. So it was limited print 75 copies. It would be the only time I will ever print those. And so people ordered it. And we saw that within a day, and we were able to give all the proceeds to the N double A C P. Legal defense fund on DSO. Those were ways that was able to kind of give back during this pandemic, and I've been grateful for it. Andi, I was grateful for all the people that support because they got a big print in their house, but they were able to support as well. So yeah, I think that's amazing. And first of all, just congratulations for being, you know, recognized by them and for creating the work. And then, you know, the response that people had from all over on. Then again adding the layer of, you know, fundraising. Um, it's, ah, going back to the beginning of our conversation when we're talking about art as as a tool for grief or for healing. Um, it's, you know, also a tool for celebrating for, you know, being heard for. You know, voice is getting out there. We've seen a lot this year in terms of fundraising through that, and and so and I know I saw another, um, piece that was Adobe that had hired you for a piece that then became part of ah, commercial Aziz. Part of honoring heroes Azaz, frontline workers of part of covert 19. Mm. And so I guess that kind of led me into I wanted to talk about how you got your adobe creative residency, um, connected with Adobe and slash for people who aren't familiar with the creative residency. Like, what is that? And what What did it allow you to do for that full year of time? Yeah. So, prior to the residency, I was a high school teacher. I went back to my old high school to teach photography and graphic design after I graduated college. So I taught there for three years 2015 to 2018. Um, and this was a Nashville, Texas. Ben Barber. Saleh To y'all, um, and eso the adobe residency is a program that adobe, um does where they pretty much pay you salary for a whole year to create the type of work you want to be hired for. So it's almost like a career springboard. So you get a whole year not to worry. And you don't have to worry about money or you have to worry about is your project and what your focus. And so my pitch to them, um, was merging photography and graphic design. Now here is something that always preach, and I will always tell people to do never underestimate your passion projects. When I applied to the residency, I had already been doing my poster day stuff for almost two years. And in fact, when I applied to the residency, I did not apply with the idea of merging photography and graphic design. I actually applied to do just photography because I was scared and I was like, Oh, I'm only knew into design. I've only been doing design for, like, three years. I'm not really that good. Um, imposter syndrome. And so, um, they're like, Yeah, we like what you pissed. But we've been watching your videos and your work on how you emerge. Photography and graphic design. Can you re pitch this to us? You have two days. And I was like, Oh, my gosh. Okay, fine. I will. I will do this. I guess you were watching. I didn't know you were really into my poster stuff. And so I read pitching. And I said, For a whole year, I'm gonna work on merging photography and graphic design. I'm going to break it into 444 section. So for the first three months, I work on finishing up my poster day, and then I'll go into making merging photography and graphic design when it comes to fashion, when it comes to sports and when it comes to music. Now, this was the thing that I was doing because I also wanted to tap into all of these different industries so that by the time I was out of the residency, I had enough work to say Hey, I can do this for your fashion brand. I can do this for your music. I could do this for sports. Um, and Adobe opened up there. Uh, just like they opened up their offices, they opened up the connections. I was able to work with the the San Francisco Warriors for the last home game in the Oracle Arena. I made a poster. 22,000 of these posters were printed out at the last game, and I got to see it in the adobe suite. I felt. And then I got to sit on the court and watch the players play. It was just crazy. And it was like and my wife got to come with me and they paid for her to come. And it was just amazing, you know? And I got to talk with the Photoshop team telling them what I liked about Photoshop. But I didn't like, um and even till today, like, I'm still part of the team. And I still talk to them from time to time. And it's just been it's just been and, uh, amazing, because in that time I got to really focus on what I wanted to focus on Because when I was teaching, what I would do is if I needed to make a poster for that day. Every Friday, we had this thing called Fund A Friday, but really, all it was it was just for me to have an excuse to make my poster in class. So I would make a poster with the kids, and I will show them how I made it. And, like, give them all the assets. And then I'm like, Okay, I made a poster today, thank God. Because this was close, you know? But the kids thought it was like a fun thing, like every Friday would make a poster. Um, and so I just have to find ways to, like, make a poster every day. Or if I skipped, like, a few days, I would make sure I made I caught back up. But one thing that I learned during that whole time was just that consistency is important. If you miss a week, what are you going to do about that? Are you just gonna stand, Mr Week? Are you going to try to make up for that week? You missed? Um, Eso consistency got me to grow and it got me. Thio developed and evolved and it got me to where I am today. And ever since the residency I had, like, three job offers. But I turned them down. I decided to go full time freelance and it's been it's gonna be two years and 2021 in May. And, um, Adobe has been my biggest client, you know? And I'm thankful to them I was actually talking Thio the creative residency manager. Julia T. N um, she's pretty much like our residency, mom. So we keep up with her from time to time. Um, but yeah, I just told her, like how much I really appreciated the time she took Thio really help me and support me throughout that whole year. Um, and even applying to the residency it was all because my wife told me to, you know, she's my girlfriend at the time, and I was like, I don't think they'll pick me. There's too many good people like I know a lot of amazing people. Why would they pick me? She was like, Well, you should apply if you don't get it used to get to work with the kids if you get it, then you get to work with Adobe like you have best of both worlds, you know? And yeah. And now that I've been out, I've still been able to teach Adobe has had become Do Adobe live. I'm actually gonna be doing Adobe live at Adobe Match this year, Um, and also have to three classes on skill share. And so I still kind of get to teach people on. I'm hoping one day I'll be able to work on my own and make my own courses and whatnot. Awesome. Well, maybe we can have you do that here on creative life. Oh, no. A plug. They're put in a plug E. Oh, no. Actually, I I saw your classes on skill share on. But, you know, teaching people how to make that poster or a poster teaching people how to make a CD, or, you know, uh, are cover art music for the playlist, which I thought was super cool. But what I really appreciate about that story is that you, Alex, there's so many things that you're you're so smart in the way that you approach, whether it was this residency in. Okay, let me work in sports in, you know, shoes. I wanna work for Nike. Let me create projects for Nike within this, which are really cool. Um, that you have that syriza could check that out and and, you know, sports. And then, like you said when you first started to talk about this, never underestimate the power of passion projects. And that Jamie is the theme that we hear hear over and over and over again, is you know, you gotta do the work that people that you wanna be hired for, And it's like it's like a simple is that? And yet, like, it's still, you know, you gotta start doing it to make it actually happen. Uh, and yeah. So what a cool just evolution. Um, I love that the combining the teaching with high schoolers to now doing that, you know, at the at the level that you're at now. So, um, I did want to talk about afra Tina and your your wife. You're creating a studio. She's a photographer. An amazing photographer. How did that sort of come together to, um, create a full you know, studio, That s so Yeah. So you know, when when we were before we even started dating when we were talking as friends were just talking about what we wanted to do in the future. And I always knew I wanted to work for myself. And she is always wanted to kind of explore the creative, um, a creative career. And so when we got married, it was just like a no brainer to kind of just joined together, um, join together, but still kind of have, like, our own separate style, separate clientele and whatnot, but also come together whenever we have those projects that need to utilize both me and her. Um, but it's interesting, because now we're kind of like revamping and thinking What could studio? What could Coker Studio look like? Like, could it be Kui like drop apparel every few months, you know, as a combined unit, could we, um, work on passion projects that we both wanted to just work on just for fun? Um and so, yeah, those were things that were still doing. It's not a physical studio just yet because we co vid first of all, and then we way work out of a co working space. And so we have access to the studio there. And whenever we have shoots, we usually use that studio most of the time. Um, but the idea of Coca studio is that, you know, we wanted to create a legacy for our family moving forward. And so when we have kids, we want Thio kind of teach them how this company has been run. And, you know, when we get hold, when we get old, if they decide they want to continue this legacy, um, then we would we would love for that to happen, you know? And so we want to kind of make it a family business, but also use it as a way to be able to hire some of our friends who might not have been able to get opportunities like we're getting, you know, like you talked about the cove, it thing. I had a I had, like, a list of friends because the dog was like, Hey, if you know any, um, essential workers that you wanna, um, highlight and do a design for, um let us know. So I listed a couple of people send pictures, told them what told adobe what each of them do And then we talked and we picked somebody, and then they pay the person, you know, And it was just really, really affirming because, like, my friend got paid, and then they got to be on Adobes Channel, and then they got to be on TV, you know? And I was just sending them all the updates and it just just the small that they had and like, the gratitude was there And, you know, and I never wanted to be like, Hey, I got you this. You owe me kind of thing. I think it's like it's a community thing. I couldn't have done it without her. She couldn't have done this with me. And so it's like we're here to uplift each other. Um and yeah, so it was. It was it was an amazing, um, process for me. And I'm so grateful for it. I mean, I feel like I mean, if we all had that outlook on life, that we approach life from a place of collaboration and that it's, you know, it's not that were in it together, that what a win for me is the one for you, you know, it just like and our it allows us to do that. Art allows us toe have collaborations where it's mutually beneficial for, you know, so many parties involved in the making of. But what you just touched on the notion of legacy. And I think it's super cool that you're you and your wife are already planning out for your kids in the future. And they're gonna wanna join the family business. I love it. Yeah, but what what does legacy mean to you? Like I wanna go back, Thio, we haven't talked about again. You're born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and then moved to Canada before making your way down to Texas. What is sort of the legacy of your family, your parents, Your grandparent's, um, that you've been able Thio incorporate into your world now and maybe take us back to your childhood. And what? Because I think you mentioned you were 10 years old when you moved. What? What was your story in terms of your family and moving And, um, that that legacy in your life now? Yeah, My dad is a pastor, and he's still a pastor now, and that's what brought us to Canada and then to Texas to start a church, But I think growing up, um, I was very creative. I was always trying to find creative outlets. Um, I don't recall, like a lot of people in my mom or Dad side pursuing a creative career. Um, I think maybe a few of them could drop, but I never saw them drop. I just heard that they did, you know, But I think I think it's I think it's important because now that we know we moved to American, my parents want us to have a better life and sacrificed a lot. And now that my wife and I are in a space to be able to do the same for our future kids, I really wanna make sure that we do it well. And I think, you know, if you think about white wealth and how you know, white people have been able to live off of the work that their parents did, you know, and then they didn't have to work as hard, you know. But a lot of us don't come from that. Especially me coming from an immigrant family wouldn't have a lot of money coming here. But now I'm in a space where we're able to kind of build that wealth. And I have had a financial advisor since I was 2021 I've had, you know, money put aside already. I just talked to him today because I'm like, Okay, we're getting a lot of work and stuff. I wanna make sure that we're, you know, saving putting money in a Roth IRA and all of those things and having mutual fund on investing in things like that. And so, um, those are things that I'm wanting thio learn and be better at, Because if I can do this for our kids, I want to make sure that as they grow up, they kind of get to see and learn what it's like to build wealth. Um, black wealth, you know, And I want this to keep going from generation to generation. Um, and I have put a lot of my friends onto my financial advisor, my c p A. They're all black, you know. So you know, we're building this community together, and I'm so grateful for it. And that's why legacy is important, because I want to make sure that our kids, um, can live off of the hard work that we've put in. Um, now they're going to have to earn that, you know, like I'm not just going to give them money, you know, I'll coach them. I'll teach them, you know, But I'm not just gonna, like, say, here's $2 million but, you know, having like a college fund and putting some money aside for them and teaching them how to be their own boss, you know, because I've always had I've always knew known that God wanted me to be in this length. Now, I don't know if I'll be here forever, but I just knew that he wanted me to work for myself. And after college, I moved back home, and I paid off my student loans within two years, you know? And then from there, I moved out. I got my first car already paid that up. So I always had this mindset of, like, I'm not trying toe anybody. Anything, you know, and not my wife and I are married like her dad is my dad, you know? So now we're working to pay those off and continue to build this wealth. But yeah, that's why That's why it's important. And I want to make sure that I do the best that I can, too. Um kind of like document this whole process because I wanna be able tohave Coker studio and have pictures of like, the first time my wife and I did a project together. You know, the first time. Hopefully in the future we make a million dollars. You know what? That what that celebration looked like, You know, So things like that, it's no longer the like. Yeah, here's my 1st $1 bill. Like, here's my statement that says $1 million. Alright, who does to you? I mean that z the the It's one thing to be successful artists. And then it's another thing to be a successful entrepreneur on, and especially in the creative field to combine those two. And I'm wondering if you know I've been getting a financial advisor age 21 like you are super setting yourself up for success. I'm wondering if there were any moments in this path where you that you had that you're like, Whoa, I don't know if I can do this or, um if there were, you know, some some of the hard lessons to learn along the way that you can share with people who are kind of trying to get to the point. You know, that that you are Yeah. I think you know, I I love numbers. So I was paying because I hate when people say, Oh, I left my job and I started feeling like most of the time, those people are either married and their husbands or wives are making $200,000. So, you know, I'm saying on dso for me, I What I did was when I was before we even got into the residency. If I go into the residency, I kind of had a number in mind of how much my wife and I were spending every month. And so what I did was I was like, Okay, we're spending this much every month. How much do I need to make Thio take care of us with her salary and my salary? And so I was like, Okay, this is the number I need to try to reach. Let me save up. So during the residency, I saved up, and so I had about maybe 3 to 4 months um where I did not have to work. And I was like, Okay, let me let me test decide and see if I could really do this. Um And so I also met with, like, um, men with different agencies here in Dallas. Sent a pdf of the work that I do, um, told them, you know, to keep me in mind, they had any projects coming up and things like that. And so it's just like you kinda have to be strategic. Andi. I also started reading this book called Profit First. And so it talks about how, as business owners, sometimes we think our business is doing really well, but it's really not. You know, some people see $20,000 in their business account. They're like, Oh, I have $20,000. But honestly, you might have maybe 10. You know, if you think about business expenses and taxes and payroll and all those things. And so the profit first allows me to break those things down into percentages. So whenever I got paid from a gig, I'm like, Okay, this much goes into payroll. This much goes into taxes. This much goes into business expenses and Then I started to see how much we spent every month as a business. I was like, OK, I need to make this much to take care of this. Um And so it's kind of like that mentality of being aware of how much you're making, um, and then also having a good C p A. That allows you to know how to write things off Smart. You know, people don't know that, you know, you can write off the office in your house, the square footage. You know, you can write off anything you buy for your office from the business. And so those were things that I I had to learn. Sometimes I had to learn the hard way, especially with contracts, Um and then especially with pricing in the industry. So I think for me, that was the hardest thing. How do you price your work? If you've been working for five years, Should you prices higher versus someone has been working for two years, You know, eso It was all of those different things. But the most important thing that I found that was helpful was that I reached out to people who were in spaces that I wanted to be in or people who were doing things that I wanted to do. Um, And if they did not reply me back then, if they didn't reply, my d m. I would go on Google and I was searched your name and search interview. And so that way I got to see their past. I got to see the thought process. I got to see maybe some of their favorite projects, the people that inspire them. And so I wanted to this big, deep rabbit hole of like, Oh, this the person I'm looking up to. But this is who inspired him and these these air the different philosophies. And this is how they got to where they're at today. So those were like things that I learned along the way. Uh, but I really do believe, like creating the type of work they wanna be higher for is big and that you shouldn't do it because you want to get work. You should do it because you're passionate about and you love it like the Nike issue thing that I'm doing that I did. I did it because I tried to get a shoe for my wife for her birthday, but I wasn't able to get it. That same day, I downloaded the app I got in and it was already sold out. And so I made a shoot to make myself feel better. And then I started trying to buy other shoes and the same thing that happening. So I have, like, eight shoes that I wanted to buy that I ended up turning into a poster, you know. And so that's how that started. Then, so intact Nike and then Nike was looking at it on DSO. Now, if something comes from it, cool. If something doesn't, that's totally fine with me. But it's a project that I'm passionate about and I will keep doing regardless of where the word comes from, it or not. Can the I mean it for For that? I love that because you, you know, you you didn't get the shoes. But instead of being like oh man, I didn't get the shoes. Let me create the shoes in a different form. Maybe my wife's not wearing them on our feet, but we still like you were drawn to something within the design of that shoe. And now you know, you can have that anyway, which is a really interesting, like, creative problem solving outside of just the art itself, you know? How do I How do I get something that I wanted that's no longer available to me, even if it's in a different way Super smart. And it's funny when you say profit first because Mike McCalla wits who? I think that's who. Your preferred Thio. Yeah, he taught on Creative Live many years ago of in the early days of not early Days of Prophet first. But But as you start to talk about, I was like, Wait, I remember. I remember that s o People check. Check that out. Yeah, for sure book. And if you plan to leave your job or if you plan to just know we'll have to figure out how your business is doing that is the best way to go about it. Break things into different percentages. So you know, if you want to do your payroll as 70% for every project and do it at 70 you know, 20% for taxes or based wherever you're at and then, um, business expenses, you can pick whatever number um, And so, yeah, And what I liked about it is that he had a thing called. Um, there's something. There's a category into that you call, like, I think it's profit first or something else or something fun. So you put 3% or 5% of whatever you make from every gig into that category, and then you pay yourself every three months and use that money only for something fun and so, like for fall. My wife and I took money out of that, and we're buying fall outfits, you know, and it's like when you have to try toe, think about it. It was like the money that has been sitting there. So, yeah, we paid ourselves and did that. I mean, there's just that, like, mental, you know, game of of it to, um and yeah, I love it. Good for you. Your super diligent. I'm learning this about you. Like whether it's the post one day getting the finances, the you know, the the um it's something something Teoh. A lot of times we think, Oh, we're creatives. We're not. We can't be, like, diligent or that doesn't fit into the mold. But in fact, it seems like like you were something saying earlier. You have to be consistent on and that you have done What? What's next? What is next for Tommy? Yeah, I have. I have a few projects. Um, that will be dropping this fall. Um, I can't speak too much about them. Um, but just be on the lookout. Some of them you can buy some. You're just gonna have toe watch and look and see. Um, but yeah, I'm really I'm really excited about it. Um, it's something very close to my heart because the company, after talking with them, they decided to donate a minimum amount Thio organization of my choice. And so I was able thio give them a name. And so I'm really excited about it. And I hope that people love it. Uh, I'm working on making some Christmas wallpaper, wrapping paper with a company called on rap, So I've been pardoning with them since last year, so I'm gonna make some stuff for this year is Well, um but yeah. And I think I think November 2 like December, I'm probably gonna take off and just relaxed. I have been burning the midnight oil since April. Um, I'm grateful for all the work that has come in so thankful. Um, but I'm just at a spot now where I feel like I need to just sit down somewhere and play games, watch TV, be a kid again, and just relax and, you know, enjoy. My wife just left her job last Friday, and so now we're both full time freelance. So kind of enjoying this new season together. Um, but yeah, there's a lot of things coming. I wish I could talk about a lot of them. Um, but I can't because the n d a But it's good people. Hey, and yeah, yeah, yeah. Congratulations, Thio Patina. And like what? What an amazing success story that, you know, just acknowledging to that if you're able to take these, you know, two months to reset and regroup, it's because you you set yourself up financially to do so, too. Like it's just it's ah, it's really inspiring on and and that will, you know, give you that ability. I'm Something will come out of that time for sure, but yeah, the post post adobe Max will be time for Thio. Rejuvenate! That's what I'm gonna be doing eso, Tommy, Where can people find you? Follow you hire you buy your posters. Um, make sure that learn from you, like, tell us all the things and we'll make sure to put those in the show notes as well. Those links. Awesome. Yeah. So my website is just tammy coker dot c o Um, my instagram is at tammy dot Coker. I want to get the Tammy Coker, but someone has it, and I can't talk to them, so it's fine. Um, and my shop is on my website. Um, you can access it from there. You can see my poster day stuff on there as well. Um, I had to close my shop because my printer started printing things crooked, so I have to take it to the shop on Monday to get it fixed. But once it's fixed, my shop will be open back up. I sell posters 11 by 14 and 16 by 20. Um, if you want custom posters made or our work of yourself, you can send me an email. However, I probably would not be able to start working on those things until February. So, um, just keep that in mind. And, um yeah, and then my website has other links to my be hands and all of those things like that. So, yeah, that is super cool on the custom. Uh, customs? Yeah. A lot of people by you, I bet. That's huge. Yeah. So they're getting line, people. Yeah, there's there's a lot, but you know, I'm working. I started working with the company to hopefully help reduce the amount of people that are asking for custom artwork. I can't say who or how what is going to drop this fall and when you know? You know, But essentially, you won't have to always hire me. E I am excited about this. You better let me know. And that's coming so we can post put it out there as well. That's amazing. Teii me. I just want to read a few comments that have come through while we've been talking, um, on creativelive dot com slash tv. We had Jim Laird saying, Hey from Houston Onda, Stefan Taylor from Dallas and great work team. Uh, we went to high school with him that way. Thank you so much for tuning in. We've got Sharon who said so inspiring Thank you. We had Donna in Long Island. Let me go back and scroll. We had Poland tuning in Kelowna. BC Canada So, um, lots of folks joining us today. Thank you for that. And for letting us know where you are. Bernard Stallings is coming through saying, Mr Cocoa, I love your coker. I love your work. Eso Thank you again. So happy we could reach a global audience and celebrate you your work and just wish you all the best. And thank you again, Tammy, for joining us here on creative life. Of course, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


In this episode, hear why Temi’s goal is to create art he’s proud of that will also make people stop and think. Explore the evolution of his artistic style layering graphic design and photography in celebration of Black beauty. Temi shares why he compares his present self to his past self versus comparing to other people. Learn about his 3D and augmented reality work made during his recent Adobe Aero residency. We talk about legacy, the Profit First method, and the importance of building Black wealth as an entrepreneur.


Multidisciplinary artist Temi Coker was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and now resides in Dallas, Texas. He’s an Adobe Creative Resident Alumni and currently co-runs Coker Studios with his wife Afritina. His mix of vibrant colors and textures comes from his upbringing in Nigeria as well as his love for the African Diaspora. His style focuses on evoking emotion through color, patterns, and storytelling.