On "Artist You Oughta Know," we introduce you to artists that you...well, oughta know. Be it for their distinctive style or their sheer talent, these are artists from all over the country who deserve your time, attention and support. Today's artist is Dallas photographer and designer Afritina Coker.
Throughout her creative career, people in Afritina Coker’s life have told her to slow down. “Focus on one medium,” they say. “You can’t do photography and art direction at the same time.” Nowadays, Afritina’s reply is always the same: “Yes, I can.”
“Me being the type of creative that I am, I truly enjoy being able to do both,” she says. “And I refuse to compromise on that.”
The Dallas-based artist is on a bit of a hot streak. Her recent project “Ghetto Aesthetic”, a hybrid of design and photography funded by a grant from Adobe was the kind of creative work that only comes from a confident, masterful artist.
“I wanted to challenge the idea that black culture and style is ‘ghetto' until proven fashionable,” Afritina says. “My work is very much centered around injustices, because that's just organic to my experience as a black Woman navigating life in America.”
“Ghetto Aesthetic” has earned Afritina some new fans, too.
“I've had a lot of people resonate with some of my latest work and they have inquired about creative portraiture for themselves. It's been really cool to see everyday people wanting a more stylized and creative type of photo session. I think it's such a special way to capture memories."
A shot from "Ghetto Aesthetic"
For years, Afritina struggled to find other artists with whom she bonded.
“It’s been challenging to find creative advocates as a Black woman,” she says. “The further I get into this industry, the more isolating it can feel.” But lately, things have changed. Afritina has found a small group of like-minded creatives who encourage her and help her hone her skills across a variety of mediums.
“It took time to find my tribe, but I am super grateful that I finally have them,” she says.
And they arrived right on time. During the pandemic, Afritina has prioritized her mental health. Meditation is now part of her daily routine because, as she likes to say, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
“I’m a creator of the soul,” Afritina adds. “It’s a lot to create a work of passion, so I have to give my brain and my body a rest.”
But make no mistake: Afritina may be practicing more self-care, but she is still dedicated to addressing injustice.
“Discussing topics of the black experience will always be a regular narrative in my personal work, because that’s my truth,” she says. “Tackling injustice just comes naturally for me.”