We had the good fortune of connecting with Shemeeka Gentry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shemeeka, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Owning a business is a risky and demanding along with having to balance it with other life components. Risk plays a part in seeing your finished product being displayed. For example, you do not know how others will perceive it. Getting exposure through social media ads and participating in art shows propose risks as well. Applying to participate in art shows costs time and money, so if you do not generate any money during that time it creates a loss. However, taking risks can also be enjoyable. Taking risks is all a part of the plan and has played a huge part in my life. I’m never afraid to take risks because I understand that risks can either be rewarding, help you grow, or teach you a lesson, but ultimately at the end of it you’re still standing.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Being my authentic self has truly helped me succeed and sets me apart from other artists. I do not try to be like other artists and strive to expand my artistic limits. I’ve been doing artwork since I was a toddler. I create art for myself as a way to express my thoughts and worldly issues. As I matriculated, I started to see the quality of my artwork improve as well as attract potential buyers. That was the moment, I knew I could turn my passion into a business. The idea for my business came out of the love and passion I have for painting and the arts. It is more than a business to me. This life is my life. Creating art makes me happy and completes me. I would’ve still been creating artwork if I didn’t turn it into a business. However, entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park; there are long nights and stressful moments. I always want to be a better version of myself whether its learning a new technique, changing the style of my web page, or finding new marketing strategies. Having a strong prayer life has kept me ground in the good and bad moments of my life. When it comes to challenges, prayer and my God is the first step I take. With his assistance, I then establish new routes to overcome challenges. The most important lesson my business/career has taught me is to never give up. My artwork years ago is nothing compared to what it is today. Comparing my past to my current art has allowed me to see growth and transformation. It has allowed me to see the benefits from working hard at something you love. If I would’ve listened to others’ negativity and gave up years ago, Raven Creations wouldn’t be here today. I want the world to know that the black community inspires me. Although I also paint what society needs to see and current issues, it is the black art form (from strength, passion, love, triumphs, and pride) that I love. The power and the strength of black beauty and the freeness it possess motivates me to paint. It is my community that I want to showcase to the world. Our rich color is bountiful and I enjoy finding ways to represent us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta has some exciting places to visit and enjoy. I would show my friend around the city by visiting Ponce City Market, Atlantic Station, Edgewood area, and Downtown Atlanta including all historic landmarks. I would also show her all of the black owned shops and restaurants such as God is Dope and Hattie Marie’s BBQ. If my friend is open to trying vegetarian food, I would take her to Plant-based Pizzeria, Harmony, Slutty Vegan, Yeah! Burger, and many others. Below is a brief itinerary of some of the places I would take my best friend. Monday: • Breakfast at Ponce City Market • Georgia Aquarium • Lunch at Hattie Marie’s BBQ • Shopping at God is Dope and similar stores; hang out in Edgewood to view street art Tuesday: • Sublime doughnuts • Visit/Explore the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site • Drive around looking at more street art • Dinner at Sugar Factory Wednesday: • Run and enjoy the Atlanta Beltline • Spa day at Celestial Spa or Jeju Sauna • High Museum of Art • Dinner at Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant Thursday: • World of Coca-Cola • Shopping and eating at Atlantic Station • Lunch at Yeah! Burger • Trap Museum Friday: • Grab coffee and cupcakes from Kupcakerie • Mountain walk at Stone Mountain • Lunch at Slutty Vegan Saturday: • Church • Picnic at Piedmont park (food by Plant-based Pizzeria) Sunday: • Brunch at BQE Restaurant • Zoo Atlanta
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give thanks to all of my mentors who has impacted my life and personal/professional growth.