We had the good fortune of connecting with Yasmin Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yasmin, what inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around me and its various elements, including nature and the differences among other people.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been creating art since I was three years old. I enjoy creative writing, as well as watching anime. Both of these activities have pushed me to become a better artist. My goal was to use my artistic skills to entertain and educate. When I was nine years old, I would stay up late watching Digimon and Naruto. I would sketch the characters. I would often create stories that were inspired by the shows I watched. When I was in sixth grade, I began working on an action and adventure manga series. I have written several drafts of the story, which has helped me grow over time. I am still working on this story, and I hope to get published soon. I wanted to attend a visual arts high school because it would give me the tools to become a better illustrator. In high school, I learned to draw from observation. My drawing teachers encouraged us to find our own style. Although I loved anime-style artwork, I wanted to develop a unique style that others could identify. Additionally, I learned to paint in realistic and abstract styles. Many of my paintings are abstract and contain a few related motifs. My paintings usually focus on specific topics, including seasons, scenery, and objects found in nature. Becoming a better artist was not easy. I created art every day and persevered when I hit a roadblock. The most difficult aspect for me was making figures proportionally correct and drawing figures at various angles. I participated in my first professional art competition in the summer between freshman and sophomore year. This was a local and national competition created by the NAACP. After winning in the drawing section, I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to compete with other black artists from across the U.S. I did not win, but I enjoyed meeting other artists and learning about their work. I also participated in many other art competitions, in which I won first and second place. When I attended USC as an undergraduate and a graduate student, I hoped to learn about other topics that interest me. I am particularly interested in healthy food access and homelessness. Throughout my journey in college, I hoped to find a way to pair my artistic skills with these topics. For three years, I worked on a student-run arts and health magazine called The Healing Process. I helped create the layouts for written work and visual artwork. In my senior year, I began creating artwork and animations for USC’s social media pages, as well as for university events. Some of these illustrations and animations were used in health articles on the USC News website. I have created artwork for the 2018 and 2019 Women’s Conferences, the 2018 Black Alumni Association Scholarship Gala, and for campus flags and maps. My largest project was involved creating an illustration of Hecuba, a Greek goddess that would be included as into USC’s brand. This illustration was included in the previously mentioned projects. Since I have a love for animation, I taught myself how to create animated videos using Adobe After Effects. When I began working for the university, I had minimal skills in Photoshop and Illustrator. I pushed myself to learn more through self study and by attending free Adobe certification courses offered by the journalism school. Although some people would tell me to stick to the basics, I learned as much as possible about Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and After Effects. I am happy that I followed my intuition, as this knowledge has helped me become a better artist and has provided more opportunities for me. I am currently working on a health-focused infographic for UCLA, and I will begin a new project with USC in the fall. I am proud of my versatility and ability to contribute to causes that are important to me. I have been able to pursue every art form that I love, including graphic design, manga-inspired illustration, painting, animation, and life drawing. People often tell me that I should stick to one thing, but I believe that I should learn and engage in any art-related activity that I am interested in. I want everyone to know that they should follow ALL of their dreams, even if their interests are not completely related.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Little Tokyo is my favorite place to hang out in Los Angeles. I have always been interested in Japanese food and culture. I enjoy trying authentic Japanese foods sold at grocery stores and restaurants in Little Tokyo. My favorite restaurants are Sushi Gen and Honda Ya. I also love visiting Kinokuniya Books, which sells art supplies and books written in Japanese. There are also many shops that sell anime collectibles and manga. This neighborhood contains many unique finds and would be a great place for any artist or Japanese culture enthusiast to visit. I also enjoy going to hard rock and heavy metal concerts on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. I do not have any friends that listen to these genres of music, so I feel at home when attending shows at the Whisky A GoGo and the Rainbow Bar and Grill. In addition to being an artist, I enjoy playing 80s rock and heavy metal on electric guitar. My favorite events are the Rainbow Bar and Grill Anniversary and Labor Day concerts. For $17, I can watch 6-8 great bands play for nine hours, as well as mingle with other rock and metal fans. If my friend visited me in July, I would recommend that they attend Anime Expo, which is the largest convention in North America for fans of anime and manga. When I attend, I always feel at home. There are many events, panels, and merchants. I personally enjoy attending panels focused on art creation, marketing, and culture. The event lasts four days. In the evenings, I would bring my friend to Little Tokyo for dinner and to explore the area.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shout out to the high school I graduated from, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. The teachers were very encouraging and pushed me to keep improving my artistic abilities daily. The school’s environment cultivated creativity.