Sometimes the Instagram Gawds will bless you with a page worthy of raising your following count. It might be a particularly yummy human being, a feed tailored to the aesthetic of your choice, or a magical artist who has you wishing your mind could create on their level. The latter was the experience had finding Laylie Frazier, aka Ukelaylie. Frazier captured our hearts with her whimsical watercolor depictions of women of color and her hand carved wooden pins. This 21 year old southern flower manages to combine social issues and fantasy in such a serene, organic way that you'll end up spending hours scrolling through her tictail shop filling your cart with decorations for your dream home. As lovely as her art, Laylie gave us a magical interview that left us feeling so light, we couldn't wait to share. Tribe, meet Laylie. Laylie, meet the Tribe.
Who is Laylie and when did you fall in love with your art?
I'm a 21 year-old artist based out of Houston, TX. I'm passionate about art, education, and social issues, and I aim to combine the three whenever I can. I first fell in love with my art when I was in fourth grade. My older sister introduced me to the manga InuYasha, and I realized that if I practiced, I could draw the characters from that series. From then on, I began teaching myself how to draw, picking up other manga to look at the art style and incorporate elements I liked. In high school, I quit orchestra and began taking my first art classes. I focused on making realistic work, and struggled to find my style. I went to college and studied art education (I'm in my senior year), and I began separating my work into the "art" I made for school and the "illustration" I practiced at home. Now, I try to bring these two together. My illustration is my art, and I'm happily developing my style.
What is the process like making your own pins?
My process is fairly simple- I use black ink to draw my designs on plain white paper, and then I use Adobe Illustrator to prepare the scans to be laser cut. Once they're out of the laser cutter, I hand sand them, paint on any gold detailing I want, and then glue the pinbacks on them. It's a little more hands-on than having them made by a company, but I enjoy working on them and I like that I can keep my selling price low. I want for the black community to have access to gear with characters that look like us, and I believe that keeping a low price point is a huge factor in how accessible these pieces actually are.
Your watercolors are very popular because they're so relatable, where do you find the inspiration for them?
I find my inspiration in all the things that I loved as a teenager. I've always loved manga, games, animation, and fantasy series. When I was younger, I never saw myself represented in these fields, and that contributed to a lot of my self-doubt as a teen. Now, I try my best to make illustrations that I wish I could have seen as a teenager. My watercolors, like all of my work, revolve around the loose theme of "Mundane vs Magical". Sometimes this means depicting an every day scene that I find appealing, and sometimes it means going all out and showing a magical character. Most of the time, it's somewhere in the middle, with elements of fantasy and slice of life working in one piece.
What is the ultimate goal for you as an artist?
My ultimate goal as an artist is to open conversation on black issues and increase the representation of black people in illustration. It's a great feeling knowing that my work can make people reconsider and see things differently. And whenever I post a new illustration, I'm happy that I'm able to directly increase the amount of black art out in the world. I'm happy that I can make work drawing from my life as a black girl, that comforts others with similar experiences to mine, while informing people who haven't shared that background.
Last but not least, finish this sentence, "Life without art is..."
Impossible! Art is all around us, both as what we make and what we perceive. Even in a world without painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, or any other visual art, there's art in nature. There's art in the way the moon sits above the clouds, and in the way little down feathers float in the wind. There's always going to be these little visual moments that make us pause and look more closely, and to me, that's all art is.