Tayo is an artist based in Los Angeles. Execution at the intersection of passion and purpose. That is the ethos of self-taught artist Tayo Kuku Jr. as he captures a variety of cultures and identities through his unique lens. He took some time to share with us his work and what Support means to him.
As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?
For me, support means showing up and there’s no singular way for that to happen. Whether it’s emotionally, financially, or socially, support is being there and making your presence felt. This is even more important as a BIPOC creative as we’ve historically been given the shorter end of the stick.
Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?
There have been way too many people who have supported me in my journey to call out any specific person or group but I like to use the all-encompassing term of my “tribe”. As a self-taught photographer, support is the only reason l am where I am now as my tribe has ridden for me in too many ways for me to even label. From references to gallery attendance, it’s all contributed to the success I’ve had.
Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?
The biggest piece of advice I can give to BIPOC creatives is to keep going. Don’t let any setback, discrimination, or failure stop you from whatever goal(s) you have in mind. Success is less about what you have and much much more about what you do and how you do it, with persistence being an invaluable habit to have.
What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?
As a Nigerian-American born in Nigeria and raised in the States, I’m truly blessed that my parents didn’t let the distance separate me from my culture. My Nigerian roots were present in every stage of my life and have influenced so much of my work. The first stories I told, the color palettes I used, and the aesthetic references I incorporated were all inspired by my culture and the diaspora I hail from.
Why is BIPOC representation meaningful to you?
BIPOC representation is especially meaningful to me because where I’m from, the arts + entertainment aren’t thought of nor respected as sustainable career paths which are far from the truth, even more so in this day + age. For other young BIPOC creatives who may not have had the opportunities I’ve had, visibility is critical. People need to see things to know what’s possible and believe that they’re able to do the same + more.
Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and your industry?
DEI is important for more voices to be heard and more stories from disenfranchised groups to be amplified. For a voice to be heard, it needs to be given a platform/pedestal. For a voice to make a real change, it needs to be promoted and supported. And that’s the best way for the amplification of BIPOC Voices — by placing BIPOC Voices on the proper stages for their talents and abilities to be showcased and highlighted, which is accomplished through diversifying the pool of creatives telling these stories which can happen only if the playing field is equitable.
Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?
BIPOC stories are important to me because we’re not a monolith yet you tend to find the same old tropes and narratives perpetuated. Within the BIPOC community is a plethora of different cultures, ideologies, and stories that all deserve their respective spotlight and amplification.