We had the good fortune of connecting with TaLynn Kel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi TaLynn, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I can’t not create. I’ve tried. There is something in me that demands to be expressed and I try to listen. It’s not always easy. In fact, most times it feels like a waste of time except that I need it and it brings joy into my life.

I have this voice and it wants to be seen and heard in a myriad of ways. I write. I cosplay. I design stickers and t-shirts that resonate with me. I have so many projects I’m working on at any given time because that voice inside me needs an outlet. And now that I have the ability to create my own outlet, I’m making it happen.

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’ve always been a writer. I have written hundreds of essays, one short fanfiction, and a comic short story. I’ve self-published 2 essay books, created a coloring book utilizing plus size art, and created a collection of stickers and t-shirts based on my cosplay. I created Black Girl Geek Out, a one-day event that solely featured Black women and non-binary creators in the Atlanta area. I co-host New Wakanda, a very sporadic podcast with creator Dedren Snead, founder of Subsume. I also have a personal podcast on my Patreon titled “TaLynn Talks”. I’m working on a documentary featuring Black women and non-binary people in geek spaces titled “The Space Between” and I manage an Only Fans account where I combine my love of cosplay and lingerie while celebrating my fat, Black body.

If you told me I’d be doing any of this 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. My work is intensely personal and 20 years ago, my kind of personal wasn’t something publicly acknowledged or accessible. Now we have all these options with which we can share our evolving work, something I would have never anticipated. Something I think most of us are still trying to figure out.

I am a slow adopter of new media, mainly because of all the potential pitfalls of letting too many strangers have too much access to too much of your life. It’s frightening. But I also knew that I’d found people and resources online that helped me realize that my experiences weren’t uncommon – they were just unpublished. Once I realized that, I decided that I would add my voice and experiences to the zeitgeist. There are so many fat, Black women out here living our lives but rendered invisible in every space that I wanted to begin capturing us living our multi-faceted lives – and I started with mine.

I love the projects I’ve worked on, the ways I’ve grown and learned about myself. I am a huge proponent of getting out there and trying things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and learning from each experience. Failure is a part of growth and I am a huge proponent of organically navigating this life to see what I gravitate towards and then analyzing how much of my decision-making was conscious or not. This contributes significantly to how I choose to manage my online spaces, where I contribute content, and who I choose to support. I’ve become incredibly intentional in my work, and while that may affect my visibility, my priority is to create and support work that is meaningful and impactful without needing the approval of any audience. In a world where every choice appears to be up for public debate, it is crucial that I can express myself freely and I do things to keep that possible.

The truth is that my brand does not fit into any commercial category. I am not someone to be categorized because while I am a “brand” I am really a person with a lot of things to say and a lot of ways to say them. I actively choose not to compartmentalize my life into something easier to swallow. It does make things challenging because I am working within a framework that constantly demands that of people. I write. I dress up. I take photos of myself in lingerie. I publicly speak about my experiences. I create spaces that discuss human rights and inequities in our world. I push for visibility in spaces that have repeatedly told me I am not welcome. I make people uncomfortable because I refuse to pretend that socially accepted violence is okay. I challenge the status quo by refusing to be invisible, especially when it hurts. The more I learn and understand the oppressive systems in which I am expected to function, the more I’ve had to redefine my definition of success because success that requires I limit and cannibalize myself is not a success I want. Accepting these things about myself is what makes me proud of what I do.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I recommend Main Street in College Park. It’s a bougie and cute with many restaurants to try.

Center for Civil and Human Rights is a must but you gotta buy tickets so plan accordingly.

You can take the Atlanta Black History Tour. This also requires tickets: http://atlblackhistorytour.com/

I also recommend Krog Street Market. It’s pretentious and gentrified to hell and back but eateries, I guess.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
One of the most interesting things in this journey is the support. I never realized that over time I’d created a number of relationships with people who would assist me, no questions asked. All I had to do was reach out and they would be there. I can’t name them all because the list would be too long, but here are a few who have consistently accepted and supported me and my agenda, even when it’s difficult.

Having a network of people who can and do support you, especially when you struggle to believe in yourself is vital to maintaining the course.

Kecia Stovall Photography (https://keciastovall.smugmug.com/)

Erika Hardison (@mzyummydread), founder of Fabulize Magazine (https://fabulizemag.com/)

Chauna Lawson (@ccthegreekgeek), founder of HBCUCon (https://hbcucon.org/)

Dedren Snead, founder of Subsume (https://www.subsumelife.com/)

Greg Burnham, author/writer, co-creator of Tuskeege Heirs and The Search for Sadiqah (https://www.facebook.com/Gregburnhambooks/)

Website: talynnkel.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/TaLynnKel

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/talynn-kel-249042134/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaLynnKel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaLynnKel1/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TaLynnKel

Other: OnlyFans.com/TaLynnKel

Image Credits
Image 1 – Photographer Andrew Michael Phillips, Photoshop by Acdramon (https://www.instagram.com/acdramon) Image 2 – No credit Image 3 – Photographer Kecia Stovall Photography (https://keciastovall.smugmug.com/) Image 4 – Photographer Kecia Stovall Photography (https://keciastovall.smugmug.com/) Image 5 – Photographer Danique Events (https://www.instagram.com/daniqueevents/), Photoshop by Acdramon (https://www.instagram.com/acdramon) Image 6 – Geek Girl Con Photographer GuyEatsOctupus (https://guyeatsoctopus.com/) Image 7 – Danique Events (https://www.instagram.com/daniqueevents/) Image 8 – No credit

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