Andrea Pippins' 'Becoming Me' Is Truly Inspiring

by Caitlin White

If you're not already a huge fan of Andrea Pippins, you're definitely going to be. After the success of her inspiring and beautiful I Love My Hair coloring book, she's now releasing a new Wreck This Journal-style book called Becoming Me: A Work in Progress. And, you guys, if you have even a speck of creative spark, you need to have it. Becoming Me will release October 11.

Becoming Me is part-adult coloring book, part-brainstorming helper, and full-throttle inspiration for creative types, even those who don't yet know they are creative types. It takes the coloring book craze to another level. The book is not easily described in words, so luckily, Bustle chatted with Pippins and she offered an inside peek of her book, which you can see throughout this post.

"I want fans to know that I am super excited about this new book because it brings together a lot of what I've learned as an artist/designer and as an educator," Pippins told me. "Readers can use it on their own, with kids, or as a way to get creative juices flowing at work with colleagues."

Pippins is also headed out on tour to celebrate Becoming Me, and you can follow her tour dates on her blog here. And definitely add her on Instagram to keep up and get a taste of her lively, inspirational art.

Check out what Pippins has to say about her book, creativity, and what she's working on next.

What was your inspiration for creating Becoming Me?

The inspiration behind Becoming Me was to create a resource to help people along the process of self-discovery through creative expression. Becoming Me is a resource for living a creative life daily. Even if you're not a visual kind of creative person (painting, drawing, etc.), Becoming Me is a great space for collecting your ideas and inspirations.

It also shares techniques for generating new ideas and capturing thoughts, all of which are necessary for any creative process.

Why do you think it’s so important for young people, and adults, to take time to express their creativity?

There are two main reasons for me. First, being able to create is an opportunity to fully be yourself. To take a moment out of your day to just be is important in our fast-paced world. It takes attention away from worry, that mental to-do lists, and everything else that occupies our brains.

Being able to create is an opportunity to fully be yourself. To take a moment out of your day to just be is important in our fast-paced world.

Secondly, the idea of bringing something into existence that wasn’t there before is amazing. Cooking a delicious meal, sewing a new dress, writing a song or book. When we create we our bringing to forefront a little piece of ourselves that we often hide. Being creative allows us to take the time to nurture that specialness within us.

Throughout the book, there are shout-outs to artists who have inspired you. Who are your top artistic inspirations, and why?

This is always such a hard question for me because I’m inspired by some many people and it's always changing depending on my focus at the time. But right now I'm really inspired by Emory Douglas and Candy Chang, both of whom I mention in Becoming Me.

Emory Douglas was the creative genius behind the Black Panthers branding. I’m really interested in art and design for social justice and see his work as a great reference point for creating art to inspire change. And Candy Chang’s public installations are phenomenal! She creates spaces for people to write in their responses to thought provoking questions. Getting people engaged in your work by allowing them to be a part of the process creates such a great dialog between the “artist” and “audience/viewer” and I really love how she explores that in her work.

This book is about finding “your own creative way.” How did you find your creative way?

It took a lot of trial and error but I eventually found my way by just creating. I‘ve learned that creating without an agenda, or any expectations is important. When I do that it always leads me down new paths and experiences. Everything that has happened to me in my creative life started with a moment of me saying “I’m just gonna try this” for the sake of trying it.

What advice to you have for young people who struggle as visual artists, but who want to express their creativity?

It depends on the struggle because we experience so many! But the typical struggles are steady income and getting work in front of the right people.

In terms of income struggles, I’ve found the best thing to do is to have multiple streams of income. Selling art online and at art markets, doing commissions, teaching workshops (in person and online), and creating digital products are great ways to generate income.

In terms of getting work in front of the right people, I think it's a little easier these days with social media. The trick with that is consistency, quality, and being true to your voice. But I’m pretty old school with this. In addition to having a strong online presence I think it's really important to meet people and connect with them in person. When I was teaching I always encouraged my students to get out, go to design events, gallery openings, and talks. Those are great ways to meet people and help expand an artist’s creative tribe. We need that tribe when getting our work out there into the world.

You started the #WhereICreate hashtag – describe where you create!

My creative space has changed significantly in the last few months. When I was working on Becoming Me I was creating it in my studio in Baltimore, which was a second bedroom in my apartment. It was huge, bright, and filled with all the things I love: like my books, art, materials, and a cozy place to read. But I’ve moved out of that apartment in the last few months and currently living a nomadic life with an extended stay in Stockholm.

My new space to create is in a tiny loft studio overlooking a lamp and vintage furniture boutique in a hip Stockholm neighborhood. Unike my prior space, all of my belongings are pretty much confined to a desk and chair, and it’s a shared space so it took some adjusting. But I love it. I’ve met some really cool people and love that my commute is only five minutes from the apartment where I’m staying.

You’ve shared on your website free downloadable pages called “What Can I Do?” and “Freedom” as an outlet for how to get involved or what to do when the world starts to feel like like a dark place. How do you think art and creativity can help when the world gets like this?

Problem solving needs to come from a place that is creative, empathetic, and proactive. When the world gets like this it’s so easy to be paralyzed by fear, to feel like nothing will change, and to feel powerless. But the world changes everyday based on small little actions compounded into big ones, both good and bad. I think art and creativity can help facilitate conversations about change, and offer solutions, those smaller more immediate actions generate dynamic bigger ones.

When we sit down and really think about the problems through brainstorming, conversation, designing, and creating (without fear and judgement) we can come up with ideas that don’t seem impossible. Art and creativity allows the space for that to happen. It’s where we can dream up solutions and then figure out how to make them happen.

I think art and creativity can help facilitate conversations about change, and offer solutions, those smaller more immediate actions generate dynamic bigger ones.

The response to I Love My Hair has been so incredibly positive – what has been your reaction to the response?

My response to the reaction has been incredibly grateful. I know that the success of I Love My Hair happened because of the many people who have supported my work over the years and the folks who were excited to see me shine. I still pinch myself everyday.

I’m still, and will always be, excited and grateful when someone shares a photo of their coloring in I Love My Hair or shares how they discovered the book.

What can fans expect from you next?

What’s next for me is I’m experimenting with the free downloadable coloring sheets I’ve been creating. My dream is to do a large scale version, an installation where folks can interact with the drawing as they pass by.

Images: Courtesy of Penguin Random House