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Who is Temi Coker?
Creative Block → 017
Creative Block is a weekly newsletter that gives you a glimpse into my life, creativity, design, and music. It's like a little pick-me-up that you get delivered straight to your inbox each week.
This weeks newsletter is in collaboration withwho writes . We were chatting on Instagram about writing newsletters and the curiosity that comes with reading other people’s. I’ve been fascinated with what she’s doing on Field trip. Wanting to know more about each other and give our subscribers some insight into who we are, we came up with some questions for each other to answer.
LS: When do you feel least inspired? And what, if anything do you do about it?
I feel least inspired when I’m burnt out from working too much. In these moments I try to take time off from social media and just be more present in the world. Whether its through watching movies, hanging with friends, having good genuine conversations etc.
I’ve realized going on social media when you feel least inspired doesn’t really inspire me. It makes me feel like i’m not doing enough and should be doing more. That’s the opposite of what I should be feeling when I’m burnt out and feeling uninspired.
LS: What’s the story behind finding your style?
In my artwork, you'll discover a prevalent presence of African American individuals, and this holds deep significance for me. The inspiration behind my creations comes from my personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance. During my upbringing in Nigeria, I grappled with societal pressures surrounding skin color, witnessing the pervasive influence of bleaching creams and the misguided belief that a lighter complexion equated to greater opportunities and beauty. Even after my move to America in 2004, I remember battling with self-doubt, attempting to scrub away my identity, yearning to be something I wasn't.
However, as time passed, I underwent a transformative process of embracing my true self—a handsome boy from Lagos, Nigeria, created in the image of God. Now, in 2023, my art is a profound reflection of the love and pride I hold for myself, my skin color, and my rich cultural heritage. I passionately believe that "Black is a beautiful canvas," and this principle drives my artistic vision. My work is not merely about making things look beautiful; instead, it is a celebration of the inherent beauty that already exists within each subject, particularly the vibrancy that echoes my Yoruba culture and upbringing.
The vibrancy of the colors in my work come from my Yoruba culture and up bringing. The Aso Ebii we wear, the Agbada, and various other cultural elements that exemplify the captivating allure of our heritage. Our culture is very vibrant and beautiful. Through my art, I strive to convey the message that beauty is not defined by external standards but is a reflection of the unapologetic embrace that we were all made in the image of God.
LS: How do you feel your background affects you in present day?
Being an African Artist who came to America in 2004 and has now spent more time in America than in Nigeria has given me a unique advantage and perspective in my work. I intimately understand the experiences of growing up in Nigeria—the struggles, the joys, the hopes, and the creativity. It is my aspiration to return one day and make a difference, inspiring others through my endeavors. There are organizations like Orisun Collective that I have donated to. I want to eventually collaborate with them to foster creativity back home in Nigeria.
In America, I faced a pivotal decision about my identity as an artist. I had to choose between authentically showcasing my experiences and background in my work or conforming to societal expectations and diluting my art to fit in. Some brands attempted to silence my voice or pressure me to water down my message, culture, and Nigerian-American heritage. However, I am proud that I decided to express my story through my own lens, work, and perspective, and this choice has earned the respect of these brands.
By embracing and sharing my unique perspective, I have found a way to stay true to myself while connecting with a broader audience. This journey has allowed me to break barriers and create a space where my art reflects not only who I am but also the rich cultural tapestry that shapes my experience growing up. I’m also unapologetic about my faith in God and how it shows up in my work because this art that I do is a gift from God and I want to use it to serve others!
LS: What’s one principle you try to live by?
Lift as you climb. This memorable phrase, shared by a college friend, has stayed with me through the years. It encapsulates the essence of helping others as we achieve success and progress in life. As we climb the ladder of success, we must extend a helping hand to those around us. This can be accomplished through mentorship, providing encouragement, and creating opportunities for others to grow. We should always acknowledge that our own ascent was not a solitary journey; others supported and lifted us along the way.
I never want to feel like I have "arrived" because there's always more to achieve and more people to uplift. This is one of the reasons I started this newsletter, to continue climbing and extend a helping hand to others the best way that I can through my art, writing, etc.
It's important to acknowledge and express gratitude to those who have paved the way for us, whether it's a mentor or a friend who advocated for us. By paying it forward, we can create a cycle of support and empowerment for others as they pursue their own paths to success.
LS: If you weren’t a designer, is there another profession you’d be interested in? if so, why?
I’d be a musician. I’ve been playing the keyboard since I was 9. Some of my favorite Musicians are John Coltrane, Robert Glasper, P.J Morton Jr, Pharaoh sanders, duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Fela Kuti, the Cavemen, H.E.R, Jacob collier, Esperanza Spalding to name a few.
Before studying digital media in college, I originally wanted to study music. I wanted to go on tour with some of my favorite artists. Even though design is my main job now, I wouldn’t mind going on tour one day. I still play keys at my church 2-3 times a month so that still keeps me playing but I barely practice outside of church. I miss the days I’d go out with musicians and just jam!
LS: Whats a project you’ve worked on or are working on that you’re excited about?
Working on my first every Jacket design! I talked about it in one of my old newsletters:
It’s been 3 years working on this and a lot of people flaked on me but i’m glad I didn’t give up. We’re currently shooting the marketing photos / videos of the jacket o hopefully release end of this month. I want to have the pre-sales up by the end of this month and you guys will get the link a few days before I share it publicly.
I’m also working on a Holiday collection. items include, Basketball, Scarf and wrapping paper. Still working to make this happen this fall and I think we can do it!
I posted this reel last week and people have been encouraging me to make a book of some of my 600+ Posters. So Maybe that’ll be a project to do in 2024.
LS: How do you stay organized with all these projects and ideas?
I’m working on it. I can be very organized but when I’m juggling projects I sometimes just end up saving them to my desktop until the work is completed. It’s a bad habit I know, but that’s literally what is happening right now!
However, on more productive days, I rely on Dropbox, which enables me to maintain a structured and organized system. I categorize my files by year and project type, ensuring easy access and streamlined management.
Lets say I have a project this year from apple, I’d put it in my dropbox like this.
📁2023 → 📁Design → 📁Apple →📁Working File
And in the apple folder I’d also have a “Finals” folder as well as “assets” folder.
I have files all the way back to 2016 in dropbox and 2010-2014 in a big Backup drive.
I’m not a guru in organization, but I will say I’ve been able to come up with some good systems.
LS: What’s a common misconception about you?
Despite the vibrant nature of my work and my enthusiasm when discussing creativity and art, there's a common misconception that I am an extrovert. However, the truth couldn't be further from that—I'm actually an introvert. When I venture outside, I become highly observant, absorbing as much as I can from my surroundings, which can sometimes be draining. In college, I attended only one party, and that was solely because I acted as the photographer. My ideal place to recharge is indoors, in solitude. You can find me in bed or in the living room watching shows or movies, playing games, sleeping etc. I’m low maintenance. Just give me a room with my laptop or music and I am as happy as can be.
Although I cherish spending time with friends, there's a limit to my social energy. After around 2-3 hours of socializing, I begin to yearn for an escape. While engaging in deep conversations can be energizing at times, extended outings or gatherings can quickly deplete my social battery. Understanding and honoring these introverted tendencies allow me to strike a balance between social interactions and much-needed solitude for rejuvenation.
Thank you for reading, check out Laurens answers to these questions over at
→Artist to know
Anton Burmistrov | There’s something really interesting about his work and love for type. He also makes amazing tutorials on how he makes his designs and it will blow your mind.
Cristina Martinez | I love her work. The consistent message about Blackness,Love, self worth and joy shows in the work she does. She’s an amazing painter and I really think you’d love her work. She’s done several collaborations with brands like Nordstorm, Hypebeast and many more
Matthew Smith | Never met Matthew Smith before but his page randomly came up on my reels one day and I’ve been hooked! he’s not only an amazing musician but he’s also funny and can PRODUCE and SING! You guys know I love finding musicians so finding someone that can combine music and humor together with amazing production. Yeah I’m in! For my Keyboard players, watch this one. it had me in tears lol
→Cubes N° 2 (Playlist)
Last month I introduced CUBES – A monthly curated Playlist for the Creative Block* Community and creatives alike. Here’s the 2nd playlist filled with songs I listened to this month. I hope it inspires you and introduces you to new artists and sounds. My favorite songs on Cubes N° 2 playlist are “Am I Dreaming” and “The Sun”.
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