Zaria Russell, known as ShesArtZee, is an artist based in Atlanta. Throughout her childhood, Russell was surrounded by art, and after years of practice, she’s been able to perfect her craft and carve out a niche in the art business.
What attracted you to art?
One of my favorite things that got me into art was the surrealism of it all because that’s the type of artist that I think I am. I’ll see something in real life and I’ll paint it and it looks real, but it’s surreal and it’s something that you’ve seen in a dream or your imagination. I’m able to express myself and people can see what I see. I use a lot of references in my work. Sometimes I won’t, but most of the time I will because that’s just what inspires me, which is the community and what I see — anything around me — because we are inspirational innovators. I tapped into that and it let me know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m supposed to be showing people, Black people. Not just in colors, but twisted and beautiful.
What message do you want to get across in your art?
It depends on the piece or what I’m feeling. Sometimes I’ll do a series, so I’ll be expressing something specifically. One of my series was called Shades of Love, so I was drawing and painting people of color, but in colors, not just brown, black, and cream because we come in so many shades, but I felt like when I look at people, sometimes I see an aura or a color based off personality. For Shades of Love, it was a lot of Black couples, but they’re in different colors and different shades. It also was the emotion behind it, and that’s what colors show me as well.
What is your creative process like?
It takes days to just be motivated to paint a piece. At first, it’s easy because you’re just practicing, but when you’re painting something that you want to sell or something that you want to have at an art show or whatever it is for, it takes a lot of energy. You have to be inspired. I have to go out of the house a lot and stimulate my brain because if I just sit in the house, I’m not going to be inspired by anything. Sometimes I have to go on dates, and sometimes I may have to go on dates by myself. I may have to go to the park or walk on the Beltline. Going to art shows, seeing other artists, connecting with other artists, or just sitting at home on Pinterest keeps the ideas flowing and [that’s] what motivates me to work.