Ashytj Creates is here to tell stories with images. I focus on the experiences of Black Americans to harbor joy and brightness in what is usually dismissed and hidden. I fell in love with illustration when I read my first book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold. That book genuinely made me feel like I could fly, and the images are honest to the culture it represents.
Throughout my experience as a black American feminine person, I found stories in books and entertainment about people like me whitewashed, not relative to my background or the experiences of people around me. Our commonalities across communities inspire me to share images of Black Americans as I've seen and experienced them telling positive healing stories that help us see ourselves and not be ashamed but proud and joyful.
I started illustrating with a purpose in 2016 in Baltimore, MD. I started with a collection of color pencil illustrations of black women doing things titled "Black Women Do Stuff." That project was the introduction to a broader purpose. I didn't want to focus only on women, so I focused on the people I saw and created based on them, much like Faith Ringgold in Tar Beach.
I finished illustrating my first picture book, Close and Away, written by writer and poet Kezia A. Snipe, in 2021. The book is set to debut in May 2022. I am so proud of this project because it holds everything I believe in and want to share as an artist/illustrator. Illustrating this book helped me find my voice as a creator. I was able to connect with real experiences and celebrate them. I look forward to sharing more stories like it with my images.