“I’m able to push the limit on what people think artist should be able to do.”: Interview with Dawn Richard

Creation isn’t just about the end product. How we as artists choose to reach the ending of our work is an expression all on its own. We find outlets and mediums to enhance our various visions in order to tell stories that mirror the multi-faceted environment in which we live in.

Dawn Richard exhibits a profound insight on the evolution of our world in the ways we choose to express ourselves. Whether it’s singing (Please do check out the music video Blow) or animating (take a look at Jonlee Drive, Dawn Richard’s animation project about a teen who receives unstable super powers after experiencing a traumatic event), we see Dawn push the boundaries of our respective realities, and catapult us into a world of obscure beauty and abstract emotion. The path to these projects is imperfect as all things are, but gorgeous in its steps. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Dawn Richard for BNP to gain a little insight on how a nerd can do it all. Please enjoy!

Black Nerd Problems:Please tell us a little bit about yourself! (Favorite Pokémon, words to live by, favorite daytime activity)

Dawn Richard: Vaporeon.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose”-Dolly Parton.
Favorite daytime activity? Finding all the black licorice jellybeans in the bag and burning them as they are Satan and should not be allowed among the other tasty jelly beans that exist.

BNP: You do a lot of amazing and creative work, in various mediums. Do you find that your projects intersect in any ways?

Dawn: Absolutely. Music, Tech, and Fashion collide in my world. Being able to create albums with VR content or making my albums accessible via a USB necklace is rewarding for me. I’m able to bring all my passions together on one platform. I’m able to push the limit on what people think artist should be able to do. As a Black woman, I’m happy to say VR is a space I’m in and constantly exploring. From being the 1st artist to do live 360 performance with YouTube to premiering an VR interactive visual with WIRED as an indie artist, I’m proud to be pushing, innovating, and creating in these spaces. Even working with Adult Swim as an animator has allowed me an opportunity to both draw and curate my own music or the channel.


BNP: Do you place any social or political commentary within the art you create?

Dawn: Absolutely. I feel it’s necessary. I think art is reflective of the times. A lot is happening. As an artist in some way you’re affected whether you want to be or not.

BNP: Do you find your inner nerd emerge in music or animation?

Dawn: A little of both. She’s a loud nerd so she always pushed through every chance she gets.

BNP: How did Jonlee Drive project come about? (How long have you worked on it

Dawn: Jonlee is 6 years in the making. I’ve always wanted us space for artists like Me who felt they didn’t have a place. Growing up being called an Oreo or the nerd was the norm. I didn’t have a hub to go to where I could express myself. I wanted to create a neighborhood where those who didn’t feel they fit can express their art.


BNP: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Dawn:The impossible. The whimsical. The ethereal. Mythology. The Bible. The magical. All these things inspire something greater than us.

BNP:If you could brunch with any fictional character, who would they be and why?

Dawn: Tank Girl. Hands down. We are the same. Brunch would probably turn into a shoot out with something blowing up but I mean… that’s normal.

BNP: Do you have a favorite nerd genre? Any specific moments from books, or comics, or TV shows that really stuck out to you?

: Japanese Comic Books and Manga Animated Series. Bleach and FullMetal Alchemist were magic for me.

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  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

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