8 of Our Favorite BIPOC Artists and Makers
The team at SSID shares some of our favorite independent businesses owned by artists and designers of color.
It would be remiss to write a blog highlighting the work of BIPOC artists without taking a moment to reflect on the events and conversations of the year.
Propelled by the momentum of protests following the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fell, the world is protesting, watching, listening, trying, speaking out, making mistakes, and — hopefully — changing.
We just had our ten-year anniversary here at SSID, and moving forward, we will continue striving to be anti-racist and inclusive. We’ve always loved working with a diverse group of people and are excited to expand our network even further. We look forward to collaborating with and working alongside more BIPOC artists, builders, designers, and architects in the coming years.
As a first small step to help amplify BIPOC voices, we’ve gathered a list of some of our favorite BIPOC artists, vintage stores, and makers to support right now (and forever):
Ekua Ceramics is helmed by Sara Ekua Todd, a multi-ethnic artist from Belgium. At her ceramics studio, Sara crafts functional pieces with a twist of color and playfulness. At SSID, we love the round, donut-like vases and cups with oversized handles. Follow Eku Ceramics on Instagram or visit the online store to shop wonderfully unique mugs, bowls, and plates.
Jessica McClendon is a painter, professor, and mother based in Dallas, Texas. With her distinct photorealism-inspired style, Jessica captures oil portraits of people that are fascinating, soul-stirring, and intended to send a message of love. “Most people don’t see themselves as works of art. But we are,” Jessica explained in an interview.
You can check out Jessica’s available work at the Fort Works Art gallery or follow her on Instagram — where she often features incredible artists in her stories. It’s a fantastic way to discover new artists you might not have encountered otherwise.
Plant + Vessel
One fateful evening in 2016, Plant + Vessel owner Traci Ward signed up for a pottery class. The very next day, Traci’s boss told her she was being let go from her job. The loss turned out to be fortuitous, and now the Austinite runs a thriving one-woman pottery business. Traci shapes clay into bright, colorful terra cotta planters and hand-thrown ceramic cups, bowls, and jars.
At SSID, we are big fans of Traci’s colorful glazes and distinctive use of striations on her pottery. We recently purchased two Plant + Vessel cups and can’t wait to use them. Follow Plant + Vessel on Instagram or shop the collection online.
Jomo Furniture was founded by Kenya-born, Virginia-based designer Jomo Tariku. Jomo designs modern furniture inspired by his experience of Africa’s diverse culture, history, traditional furniture, and indigenous clothing and hairstyles. Jomo’s furniture has been featured in design shows around the world and spotlighted by media outlets like New York Magazine and Interior Design Magazine.
At SSID, we are in love with this stool because of its bold lines and adjustable height. But perhaps one of our favorite pieces is this Nyala chair. Inspired by the Ethiopian Nyala mountain antelope, the chair is a striking, structural statement piece. Follow Jomo on Instagram.
East Austin artist Gerardo Arellano is a celebrated artist with works displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. His bold, colorful pop art-inspired artwork is influenced heavily by Latin-American culture. The artist/musician has become a bit of a local celebrity here in Austin, where he was honored with an Award of Excellence from the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. Gerardo is the artist behind much of the artwork seen at local Austin establishments, including murals on the walls of restaurants like Licha’s Cantina. He also designs flyers for Money Chicha, our favorite psychedelic-cumbia band here in Austin.
At SSID, we’re personal friends with Gerardo and have tremendous respect for his work. We can also attest that he is cool as f***k. Check out Gerardo’s Instagram.
Loft and Thought
The woman behind Loft and Thought, Carmen Nash is a Florida-based collector with an eye for hunting down extraordinary and eye-catching vintage pieces. You can follow Carmen on Instagram to browse her current collection, which includes finds like chic midcentury wrought iron chairs, sumptuous tufted leather sofas, epic accessories, and other fantastically organically shaped neutral finds.
Another friend to the team at SSID, Vy Ngo is a visual artist AND a physician based in Austin. By telling the story of her experience as a first-generation Vietnamese-American, Vy’s art explores ideas of immigration, identity, vulnerability, and humanity.
At SSID, we were enchanted by Vy’s most recent exhibition at the Dougherty Arts Center: “The IN Between”:https://artprofiler.com/inbetween-vy-ngo-art-review/. Through moving and memorable mixed-media pieces, the collection follows Vy’s life from childhood to adolescents as she struggles to fit into her life in rural Pennsylvania in the 1980s. Follow Vy on Instagram.
Wildfang Home was founded by Hanal Nagel, a UX design researcher and advocate for diversity. At her Montreal-based shop, Hana curates a selection of modern decor pieces from black and queer designers. Her selection of light fixtures is positively mindblowing — think retro seashell lights and whimsical mushroom lamps. 10 percent of sales are donated to nonprofit organizations working towards equality and justice for black and queer communities. Follow Wilfang Home on Instagram or shop online now.
Jason Evege dreamed up Linoto — a linen bedding company — when he was in a relationship with a partner who tended to sleep hot. “Linen fabric can absorb a large amount of moisture without feeling wet,” Jason explained in an interview. “It absorbs and releases moisture more quickly [than cotton], which is also why linen dries so quickly.” The Linoto workshop is based in Westchester County in New York, where Jason and a staff of skilled technicians design pure linen sheets, towels, curtains, and more. Follow Linoto on Instagram or shop online now.