Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiana Bojorquez.
Hi Tiana, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My name is Bojo, and I am a self-taught Afro-Latina Artist based in St. Louis.
I’ve had a love and passion for the arts for as long as I remember. I enjoyed coloring and drawing from the moment I could hold a crayon or a pencil. My parents always said I was an easy kid because all they had to do was give me a coloring book and put on a Disney movie and I’d be in my own world.
As much as I loved playing outside with the neighborhood kids, like any other kid, I equally loved spending hours drawing at my dad & grandmother’s house, who would just watch me and would always tell me how great she knew I was going to be, especially since I was left-handed, and “all left-handed people are special”.
As I grew older and started school, I remember Art class being my favorite part of the day. I loved every single art teacher I had from K-12. They each always encouraged me to hone my skills and saw something in me that it would take years for me to realize, that I was destined to be an artist.
When it came time to get ready for college, I knew almost immediately I wanted to attend as an Art Major. This was a huge deal for me because I was going as a first-generation college student. While there, I faced many adversities that would ultimately lead me to not return, but the grit and resilience I was born with got me through and led me to the path that I am on today as an artist.
Upon leaving, I met Kristian Blackmon in 2017, who would have a huge impact on who I am and my brand. Kristian is an activist and curator here in the St. Louis area. I met her at the Urb Arts Gallery in North St. Louis at one of the shows she was curating, “Invisible No More”. I spoke with her and it was an instant connection.
I let her know I was interested in getting connected with her and the art scene here in St. Louis, and she and many others received me with open arms. That following year (2018), is when I started to really develop myself and my brand as Bojo. I continued to teach myself how to paint and was given the opportunity to showcase my work in galleries all over the city including; Urb Arts, 2720, Blank Space, and Mad Art Gallery.
All places that hold so many memories and so much meaning to me. I’ve grown so much over the course of the last 5 years, and consider myself blessed to have gotten the opportunities and experiences I have. I look forward to not only growing my brand. but being an inspiration to young women creatives all over the world.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Building my brand has been far from easy, but each adversity made me stronger and appreciative of each learning experience throughout the course of my life and career as an artist.
One of the most definitive moments for me, was when I was in a pedestrian accident my freshman year of college. I was walking to the local bakery when I was struck by a vehicle. This event would change my life forever.
The recovery process was challenging both physically and mentally. I could barely walk or stand up straight, let alone create. which weighed heavily on my mental health, which was already an ongoing struggle in itself due to other life changes I was experiencing at the time.
These included the struggles of being a first-generation college student and the death of my grandmother. Art was and still is the main coping mechanism for me when I go through something or just have a hard day or week. So to be physically unable to do that for a period of time, was hard.
But with physical and psychiatric therapy, I gained so much and developed a new sense of purpose. I felt like I was given a second chance, and I was determined to make the most of my new life.
At the end of the day, I am a human being. I still have my struggles like anybody else. And as I navigate a somewhat post-Covid world and enter my journey of motherhood, I am constantly grateful for the love and support I receive near and far.
And I hope to use my stories, tragedies, and triumphs to continue growing and inspire others with the platform that I do have.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I started off as a kid just drawing in anything I could get such as crayons, markers, and sharpies until I eventually started to get into and develop my skills with pencil and graphite drawing. My emphasis was on drawing until my freshman year as a Fine Arts Student.
After only a few classes, I dropped my drawing class because I realized I no longer wanted my emphasis on drawing and I was eager to try something new/different. I picked up this class called Creative Strategies, which was a class graded on concept vs. medium or skill level. I found this as the perfect opportunity to get myself familiar with Acrylic Paint and to teach myself how to paint.
Upon leaving school, my love for painting only grew stronger and I continued to paint, and that is currently what I specialize in. I like to believe that’s what sets me apart from others, I am self-made. And I’m really proud of that because there were so many times throughout the years when I questioned my path, what I was doing, and if this was worth pursuing for the rest of my life.
There were also times when I wanted to give up, my self-doubt would often get the best of me, but even then something inside kept me going. And I think that’s important to remember for every artist or anyone with a passion to remember.
It will get hard, you will have moments of doubt or uncertainty, but you just have to keep going. Because with every failure, you don’t start over from scratch, you start from experience.
Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I think what people would find surprising about me and my work is that I am 100% self-taught.
When people see my work, one of the main questions I get is how long I’ve been doing this and where I was educated. They’re often surprised when I say I’ve been creative my whole life, but only doing this professionally for a few years and I taught myself how to paint.
When I was 17 and starting to figure out what I wanted to do post-High School graduation, I convinced myself that I had to go to art school in order to be successful and taken seriously as an artist. The majority of artists in my area that I had looked up to had formal education and extensive resume, which was intimidating to me because in a sense I was starting from scratch.
But upon entering college as a fine arts student, I realized what made me an artist was me.
A piece of paper or degree would never measure the worth or talent that I had in me all along. My passion for it and eagerness to grow is what ultimately got me through the many challenges I faced in the beginning stages of building my brand as Bojo, and what got me here today.
- Instagram: @artbybojo
Chris Bauer @cbauerphoto