With her 2019–20 collection, “We Are the Blueprint,” artist Faithe Bey ’21 calls attention to all the ways Black women are the inspiration and standard-bearers for contemporary images of feminine beauty, style and culture in the U.S. The collection — which began with hyperrealist paintings of lips, hairstyles and nude bodies — was intended to reveal how “Black women unintentionally and effortlessly gifted pop culture in America what the average girl wants to look and sound like,” Bey writes on her website. “Today we are celebrating and recognizing the rightful authors of this narrative.”
Animated by this artistic vision, Bey has forged her own blueprint for her work, building what was once a hobby into a lucrative social media-driven business. Selling not only prints and posters but apparel and accessories featuring her original art, Faithe Bey Artworks has attracted thousands of followers and sold more than 3,000 products related to the brand since launching in 2019.
While she had grown up drawing and coloring, Bey didn’t start painting until the end of her first semester at HWS. “One night I got the random urge to paint,” she remembers, “but all I had were some Crayola markers. So, I squeezed the ink out of those and voila — watercolors! After finishing a self-portrait, it was then that I realized not only was I better at it than where I left off so many years ago, but I discovered my passion for art all over again. I signed myself up for an art class in the spring and just continued to learn and grow from there.”
Bey started practicing portraiture and experimenting with new media after her father, Justus Bey ’90, P’20, P’21, P’23, bought her a set of oil paints. (Faithe’s siblings, Tai-Ling Bey ’20 and Justus Bey ’23, are also members of the HWS community.) By the spring of 2019, Faithe was “painting celebrity portraits to gain some exposure, which worked almost every time.” The portraits drew attention on social media, including recognition from Jordan Peele, Lupita Nyong’o, Jackie Aina, H.E.R., Ella Mai and others. But it was with “We Are the Blueprint” that Bey “really started to develop my own style.”
As a studio art major and entrepreneurial studies minor, Bey has pushed herself to explore the far reaches of her craft and align it with her career aspirations. She participated in the Centennial Center’s Summer Sandbox Idea Accelerator, “which has taught me a lot about growing a business from the ground up; I apply those things to Faithe Bey Artworks constantly,” she says. “I’ve learned that you can be extremely talented and not have your work sell because of how you market it. Look at viral posts and study them. Study their wording and photo line up. Most of all, look at how you currently market and ask yourself: Would I buy this?”
With the first anniversary of “We Are the Blueprint” approaching, Bey is planning to expand the collection — and also on the lookout for new ideas, “because almost everyday I see a new thing that Black people are the Blueprint for.”