Influencers and Inspiration

Influencers and Inspiration

For Black History Month, we asked our staff to name some of the influencers that have inspired them. We hope these picks inspire you too.
Peter and the Wolf, 1985, Jean Michel Basquiat
Source: "Peter and the Wolf, 1985, Jean-Michel Basquiat" by y.caradec

Jean Michel Basquiat

Tighe Kirkland: I chose Basquiat for his role in breaking down the elitist, white art world in New York in the 80s leading the way for otherwise neglected nonwhite artists to reach new heights of exposure.

Gordon Parks

Clarence Eugene: Gordon Parks - photographer, painter, director, and writer. Known for being the first Black photographer published in Vogue and Life Magazine.

Katie Carter: Gordon Parks is an inspiration to me because he was such a brilliant renaissance man in a time when the odds were so stacked against him as an African American man. He was never limited to just one of his many talents…photography, writing, composing music, or movie production. Parks followed his inspiration wherever it led him.
Photo credit: "Run DMC" by JuanMa Ruiz is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Ryan Bertucci: Groundbreaking, nostalgic yet still relevant, and still in my car rotation today.
Photo credit: "Spike Lee" by thomas.rome is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Spike Lee

Travis Martin: Do the Right Thing is one of my favorite movies. I love how the film focuses on a single street and single day in Brooklyn, has amazing and iconic characters and intensely powerful moments. The film brilliantly weighs in on issues like race, class, personal relationships, family and the list goes on.

Mr. Lee is a powerful storyteller, and his work never shies aways from taking the toughest issues head on – specifically the racial divides that exist within American society. He is a master of his craft and an inspiration. To this day, when anyone asks me what the weather is going to be like on a given day I always have to fight the urge to emphatically reply in my best Samuel L. Jackson voice, “The forecast for today is HOT!!”

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Brianne Pegoraro: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is an inspiration to me because success isn’t defined by your age, it’s defined by your passion and dedication to succeed.
Photo credit: ©Kia Weatherspoon. Used with permission 2022.

Kia Weatherspoon

Rodney Bundick: My pick represents the importance of representation; because, when I was in interior design school, I didn’t know of anyone who looked like me working in the design industry until I met her!
Photo Credit: "Bob Marley On The Wall #1" by Feggy Art is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Bob Marley

Kevin Simon: My wife and I got married on the beach in Jamaica with Bob Marley playing in the background. He’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

Brandan “Bmike” Odums

Jessica Quimby: Brandan has long been an inspiration of mine due to his dedication to the city of New Orleans and the younger generation. He takes his personal time to educate on mixed media and the importance of art education for all.

Denzel Washington

Joshua Nichols: I chose Denzel Washington because his contribution goes beyond being a great actor and his words are always inspiring to me.

Dave Chappelle

Oscar Almengor: Dave Chappelle was a comedian I watched growing up, and his comedy taught me that life can be tough but just a little a bit laughter is all you need to keep pushing through the tough.