Who The F*ck is BLKGRLFLY?

February 20, 2019

Razia O’Bryant aka BLKGRLFLY is one of my favorite artists. Her vibrant, groovy, Black art pieces are exactly what I will be hanging in my house.  I think I followed her around 2016 and her art has not disappointed in anyway. Her style, which is reminiscent of rich black culture from multiple decades, gives you a sense of nostalgia and good vibes that you never knew that you needed. Her boldness and style as a black artist has inspired me to feel confident in just being the artist that I am today. Meet, BLKGRLFLY

Who is BLKGRLFLY? (Background, hometown, behind your name, school you went to, where you’re from type stuff lol)

At my core, I’m just Raz; a Leo from South Carolina who loves to laugh.  I came to Atlanta almost 5 years ago to attend Georgia State University.  Being in the city allowed me to engage with likeminded people and nurture the person I wanted to become.  BLKGRLFLY is like my super hero, super creative, alter ego. The moniker was originally inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Boy Fly”; a song that I listened to often as a reminder to believe in my powers.  Also, I didn’t have a lot of pictures of myself on my page at the time and people would often assume I was a guy.  “Black”, “girl”, and “fly” (in that order) are what I want people to know about my identity off the bat.

Do you remember the moment you knew that you wanted to be an artist? What was it like?

I’ve always been a visual person. I started drawing and being creative as an early elementary school student. I was obsessed with the caricatures we would get done on vacations. I remember the moment I realized I had something special artistically was after a coloring assignment in the second grade. I still remember the picture vividly.

Did you develop your art by formal teaching or did you perfect it through personal practice?

My maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother were both visual artists so it’s in my blood. I grew up watching and admiring them, acting as a sponge. I’ve never been to art school or anything but I did try to take as many art courses as I could in college.  At times, I regret not being an art major (I was a business major); however, nothing is a substitute for practice. This is a hands-on craft, literally.

What was your favorite cartoon growing up or favorite cartoon in adulthood? Did it affect your art style in any way?

The Proud Family has always been a huge source of inspiration for me.  I can’t pinpoint exactly how it affects my style, but I know it’s indirectly ever-present. I’m also a huge fan of The Boondocks and Black Dynamite (both produced by Carl Jones).  I love how the action scenes are drawn so dynamically. I’ve always admired and tried to incorporate that sense of perspective.

If you could live in any past decade to create art with a famous artist, who would it be?

Hype Williams. In my ideal world, my life is a Hype Williams video. Glamourous. Bold. Unconventional.

 If your art could be a part of aa larger art movement today, what do you think it’d be called?

ChromaPop; vibrant color palettes depicting pop cultural references.

Who are 2 black women artist that inspire you, present and past?

Janelle Monáe is the standard.  She never ceases to amaze me.  Her ability to conceptualize is incredible.  Not to mention she’s two for two in Hollywood (Hidden Figures and Moonlight).  Her creativity is not contingent on a specific medium.

I don’t think any black girl my age can say they weren’t inspired by Aaliyah.  She commanded respect and adoration with her presence.  More specifically, how she so masterfully balanced her feminine and masculine energies will forever inspire me.

You do a lot of self-portraits? What’s the reason behind it?

It started as a challenge I had for myself last year called “Mirror March” which was basically me doing a self-portrait every day for 31 days. I had met with this woman and her husband who are prominent art figures in Charlotte. It was a tough conversation but they basically told me that what was missing from my art was myself. They challenged me to make more self-portraits, not necessarily depicting my face, but representative of me in some capacity. Not only did it educate me on how I view and present myself, it helped me with consistency.  The interesting thing about my self-portraits is, all of them look different.  I feel as though all of my art is somehow inspired by myself, making them all self-reflections.

What are two goals that you have as an artist and what is one piece of advice for other young artists?

The overall goal is to transform my imagination into a tangible world, reaching as many people as possible.  This includes, but is not limited to, galleries, film, and merchandise.  More generally speaking, I want to be able to support myself, help others, and live comfortably using my creative abilities.

Young artists, do not be discouraged. It can be easy to look at how many followers someone else has or the exposure you’re not getting. Perfecting your craft is never a waste of time. Make sure you have something to say when you finally get a platform.

Name two artists and their social media who’s work you enjoy.

I always cite Darius Moreno (@dariusxmoreno). He’s simply genius. I think his ability to illustrate energy is unmatched. I also have a lot of respect for FRKO (@freakorico)
His art is authentic and unapologetic.  He’s ATL to the core.

Support her by copping some art or apparel here!

Follow her on Instagram @blkgrlfly

Author: Nave Sizon

Founder of Naveszn.com - I'm a FL native, a Howard and Columbia grad and a creator of many things. As a polymath, I do so much. I care about so many things. Naveszn.com was the perfect tool to utilize my gifts and my love for highlighting the talents and stories of black people and culture.