In January, 2021, America250PA introduced a new Junior Graphic Designer to their staff—Jamyrah Rhyanes. Philadelphia resident and recent design graduate of East Stroudsburg University, Rhyanes excitedly jumped into the action by focusing on developing content for February’s Black History Month.
In line with America250PA’s goal of highlighting influential Pennsylvanians, Rhyanes developed original illustrative portraits featuring personal quotes to share on the Commission’s social media channels.
As the end of February nears, Rhyanes shares her thoughts on Black History Month and her inspiration behind the illustrations. Read or watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of Jamyrah’s artwork on Facebook @America250PA, and Twitter and Instagram @America250_PA.
Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?
“It means a little, but it means a lot at the same time, because although it’s just a month, it shows a lot of recognition for the achievements that we have done for America — but it doesn’t show everything. It’s good to get that little bit of representation because sometimes, as a community, we feel like we lack a lot of representation, so we really take this month seriously and we try to show our best efforts within this month as a race, and I guess you could say as an ethnicity as well.”
Q: Who are some of your personal role models?
“Personally, I know it’ll be cliché, but my mother. She is very hard-working and diligent, and she really pushes me to be the best perfectionist that I should be. She tells me that, even if I push to get a ‘C,’ it’s great because that’s the hardest I could have tried.
“Art-wise, with illustrations, I would say [Jean-Michel] Basquiat, because he’s been very profound now, especially lately. I think in 2018, he sold one of his paintings for like a billion dollars, and the art piece is just a simple, child-like sketch. He uses a lot of motifs and metaphors within his art that you would have to take a closer look at in detail, but it’s just so simple. So, with that, when I first started the vectors, I used Basquiat as my first example, and then said, ‘Okay, if I can just really use some color schemes and some bright backgrounds, then maybe I can apply this to portraits and bigger things.’”
Q: What were some of your goals with the graphics?
“With the graphics, I wanted people to see that a flat, elementary style can be changed into something where it looks as though it’s realism, but it’s not. Most people would say, ‘Oh, it’s a cartoon’ or ‘it’s a vector’ or ‘it’s just a bunch of shapes put together,’ but I want you to see that it’s possible on all levels, and I also wanted to show artists that may just now be starting . . . that this can be achievable with just simple clicks. You don’t have to go to the drawing board and put all this art and everything together. You can just click, click and boom — you have conveyed a message to your audience and you have made a difference.”
Q: What other messages would you like people to take away from highlighting these influential figures?
“I want people to actually see the figures that are being made into portraits and actually take interest into people who are actually making a difference in Pennsylvania and the world as a whole. In order to help the world, we all have to start in small places. We have to think locally in order to act globally. So, with that, I want you to see that we have ranges from Representatives to Horticulture — it’s a wide range. You can be inspiring within ANY category in the world. It doesn’t just have to be huge, mainstream platforms. If we featured a person who planted a tree, that tree has helped spread oxygen for generations to come just because you took the time out of your day to plant it. Everyone deserves recognition in some way, shape or form.”
Q: Do you have any additional thoughts that you would like to share?
“The only other thought that I would like to share is, no matter what you are in, be passionate about it and work hard towards it. It may take a long time. There’s going to be some crying. There’s going to be some blood, sweat and tears, but in the end, you are going to feel amazing. I can say, when it comes to art, there’s blood, sweat and tears, but in the end, when I’m finally done, I feel amazing.”
To view more of Rhyanes’ work, visit her portfolio at https://www.jvmyrvh.com.