|Artist Tiphanie Brooke in front of Intelligentsia Coffee in Old Town Pasadena
55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena [Old Town] 626-578-1270
I first became acquainted with Tiphanie Brooke's work when I was walking through Sunset Junction and saw her All Heart in L.A. mural on Sanborn Avenue. The brightly colored hearts filled with messages of loving life and Los Angeles immediately brought a smile to my face, which is something that the artist sincerely takes to heart.
"That makes me happy to hear," she confesses. "I feel so glad that people like them when they see them."
Although Tiphanie was born in and lived most of her life in Phoenix, Ariz., she spent part of her childhood in Southern California and was happy to finally plant some roots in Los Angeles last May. When she confesses that she "definitely feels much better here," it's evident that she may have grown up in Phoenix, but it's really the City of Angels that's in her heart. Perhaps that is why she is so passionate about spreading the L.A. love around the city through her art.
Tiphanie commutes to Pasadena three days a week to take classes at the Art Center College of Design. We meet up at one of her pit stops on the way to school, Intelligentsia Coffee in Old Town.
"I live in Downtown, and the commute to school is pretty close. I sometimes have to stop and get coffee on my way, though, so I'll stop here," she says. "I usually get an Americano."
I have been to Intelligentsia's Silver Lake coffee bar, and even though Pasadena's outdoor patio is smaller, its interior is a lot bigger and it's less crowded. A long bar made from Douglas Fir is the focal point of the café. An exposed brick wall and tall ceilings give it an industrial feel, which makes it unique from surrounding businesses that have a more corporate, stuffy feel. Intelligentsia prides itself on not just buying the coffees they serve in their cafés, they develop them with their growers. It's not surprising that an artist as unique as Tiphanie feels at home in a coffee shop like this one.
We sit at a table in the back of the café, and Tiphanie shares the origin story for her Love Life-filled hearts.
"It was right before an art show that I was having in Phoenix. It was a solo show, and it had hearts because I had been working on hearts for about two years," she begins. "Then a month before the show started, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was New Year's Day that he was diagnosed, and the show was in February, Valentine's Day, so it was all coordinated for that. It was a very rough month getting my show together. I was going to community college and working on things, and I just started writing 'Love Life' maybe in response to [his diagnosis]. That's how it all started. After that show, it turned into screenprint, and I did a lot of street art there with Love Life."
"I was already doing a lot of computer-generated stuff at an early age, probably at 10. It progressed into doing things by hand and scanning it into the computer, more with the computer and a whole mixture of everything," she shares. "Now I'm getting more into the environmental graphics, murals and stuff like that. I always just did that as a pastime, a hobby, but now I'm thinking there are spaces in the city that can use that type of work."
Growing up, she found inspiration in the work of several graphic designers.
"David Carson, Jennifer Sterling – more the Digital Revolution-type designers, so from the early '90s," she says. "By the time I saw that work it was the mid '90s, and I was just starting to view type and image coming together. It was my first time connecting it, that it was powerful, with magazines and editorial design."
In 1999, Tiphanie established her brand at antigirl.com, which offers a candid look into her life as an artist through her words, photographs and illustrations. Over the past 13 years, the site has garnered her work with clients from the New York Times, Nylon and Teen Vogue to Showtime, Suicide Girls and Automata Studios.
"Sometimes I'm like, 'What was I thinking'! Even though I was very young and my work wasn't even very good, I just thought that people should see it. I don't know why, maybe because that's what I do, I document what I'm doing," she offers, when contemplating what motivated her to start antigirl.
"There's a place called Syrup, and everything is good there: the desserts, sundaes. Moskatels, for art supplies. They have everything - party supplies, stuff for weddings. We've met friends at Spring St. Bar and also at this other place called the Down And Out, which I guess you should be scared of," she says with a laugh. "It's pretty divey, but we feel pretty comfortable there. I like to be in a non-judgmental environment."
While she often visits museums, such as the Hammer and LACMA, and galleries for shows by local artists like RETNA, Tiphanie often finds inspiration striking her at a most unexpected place.
"Oddly enough, the library. I always go to the one at school and in Downtown," she says. "I'll look at books and get more and more ideas. I read a lot of biographies and design books. I love it at the library. It's productive and quiet at the same time."
Overall, she loves living in Downtown because of the vast amount of people and the culture.
"We live by USC and people are always saying that it's a rough area, but we feel safe over there. We live above some commercial places and the freeway, but it's like a little haven because you can't hear any of it. It's heaven for me to just do a lot of work there," she admits. "Sometimes we ride our bikes down [towards Skid Row] when they're putting their tents up, and the change is drastic. That's what I try to show in my work, negative and positive relationships – how important they are."
The contrast of dark and light, the harsh lines of text juxtaposed with the soft lines of a heart or a woman's body are examined in her past Hearts and Women collections. Looking to her future, creating title sequences for film and television is something that Tiphanie hopes to branch into.
"That's ultimately why I came to Art Center, because I want to go on a motion track. I want to get into doing title sequences. I love print, and I will always be devoted to print, but I definitely want to learn more about technology and how that works with imagery," she says. "I love the intro for 'Six Feet Under' and 'True Blood' – the stuff coming out of Digital Kitchen. Their studio is just amazing to me. When I think of that and the emergence of the movie poster, I can picture bus stops popping out with interactive posters. That's how I see it in the future."
Whether it's a fine art collage, a mural on the side of a building or a holographic film poster in the future, Tiphanie Brooke hopes that her work will, above all, make people happy.
"I want to make people forget what's going on just for that brief moment when they first see [the piece]. It's important to be very aware of what's going on the world, but I want them, for that brief moment, to forget about everything else, to sit there and relax and try to be happier."
For more information, visit antigirl.com.