Welp, Black History Month is nearly over. Not only is it the shortest month of the year, but since it’s also awards show season and when the NBA All Star Game happens, it flies by extra quickly. But the fact of the matter is: We should all be honoring Black history and supporting Black people year-round. One of the easiest ways to support Black people is by patronizing Black-owned businesses. And with websites like Etsy, the internet makes it that much easier to do so. Shopping for nerdy merchandise, art prints and other items on Etsy has actually become a problem for me. Since Etsy has memorized all my billing info, I can literally find, contemplate and purchase a cool illustrated photo of the Fresh Prince in under 90 seconds. Here are some locally based Black artists you could be supporting on Etsy, as well as some other favorites from various parts of the US.
Portland-based photographer Jamila Clarke is an artist I’ve just discovered recently, but I will definitely be buying from her Etsy account soon. Her conceptual photography often incorporates surreal elements, like one stunning image of an airplane flying out of a woman’s stormy-white afro. I could also see myself buying a highly relatable photo called “She Wrote Nothing At All,” which depicts a Black woman asleep on her typewriter. While there are quite a few select prints available on her Etsy page, you can see her full portfolio on her website.
Austin-based Cindy Elizabeth is a self-described Afro-futurist, Black nerd, photographer, and mixed-media artist. I initially fell in love with (and bought) a sparkling print called “I Am Made of Love,” which features a silhouette of Garnet from Steven Universe standing in the superhero pose. I couldn’t help myself from buying a 5x7 “Black Lives Matter” print that centers a Black Power and fist afro pick. In addition to prints depicting legends like Pam Grier and Whitney Houston in space, she also makes cute buttons with Black Panther characters on them, and others that feature Mr. Rogers, Selena, Colin Kaepernick, Star Trek’s Lt. Geordi La Forge, and more.
New Jersey artist Alleanna Harris has so many things I’d like to buy; it’s overwhelming, but I’ve decided I’m just gonna spread out my purchases over the next few paychecks. For my first Alleanna Harris piece, I bought a black-and-white “Saturday Morning Illustration/Carefree Black Girl Art Print” that will go perfectly in my bedroom since it reflects my own routine of doing my natural haircare regimen next to a sleeping pup and a snake plant. Her account also has lots of cute illustrations of characters from Living Single, Marvin Gaye, James Baldwin, and many other Black legends. She also has a food series depicting cartoon Philly cheesesteaks, pretzels, and Italian ice.
Nadira Simone runs a pretty popular account on Etsy, and it’s no wonder: Her page is like a Black-culture art-print wonderland. She sells valentines and other greeting cards with characters and phrases from classics like Martin, Good Times, Juice, and Fresh Prince. In fact, I just purchased a li’l Fresh Prince print in green, as well as an illustrated 8x10 of that iconic bathroom karaoke scene from Living Single. With 250 illustrated items celebrating pop culture—including some coffee mugs, and even some apparel—the possibilities (for spending) are endless. You can also check out some of her stuff on Instagram.
Based out of Riverside, California, Kubrat Salaam specializes in apparel, accessories and decor. Her designs tend to focus on celebrating Blackness, with items that read “melanin,” “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “You Poppin’ Sis.” Naturally, I am also admiring a t-shirt featuring a drawing of Beyoncé, from when she performed at the Grammy’s while pregnant with twins.
Jean Pierre of Nkossi Boutique has been selling fine West African fashion, fabrics, wearable art, and décor from his location at 130 SW Harvey Milk since 2015. It’s one of the only shops in town specializing in traditional African clothing, so if you’ve got any Wakanda-themed parties coming up, N’kossi boutique is probably your best bet for finding authentic designs locally. Specializing in custom clothing and alterations, Pierre’s gorgeous collection can be made-to-order. And luckily, last year the shop made some of its product available on Etsy, where you can now shop a slew of vibrant hoodies and jackets, matching couple’s fits, coats, maxi skirts, dresses, and traditional African necklaces.
Clackamas-based artist Stephanie Griffin makes “modern embroidery art from a unique point of view.” Her Etsy account features nearly 100 handmade designs that incorporate words and pictures depicting themes relating to nature, travel, music lyrics, sassy words, illustrated pin-up womxn, the resistance, and positive messages for self-love. Prices for her adorable embroidered hoops range from $15 to $49.50. I’m particularly jazzed about a “Make Your Own Path” piece depicting a PNW mountainside, and a vibrant deep indigo number that reads “Know Your Worth” in hot pink.
Portland-based designer and engineer Kayin Talton Davis creates art prints and other household items for children and adults. There are lots of cute lunchboxes depicting Black children as cowboys, ninjas, astronauts, and more. As someone who grew up receiving gifts with pictures of little white girls on them, Soapbox Theory is a breath of fresh air. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so pressured to relax my natural hair if I would have grown up seeing more self-reflective images like “Girl in yellow with afro puffs” on my stuff.