"The Principles of True Art is not to Portray, but to Evoke."
At the top of the year, in collaboration with the Holy Spirit, "we" decided that the focus for 2018 should be the brand's most important pillar, "ministry." It is the framework for everything else that Simply Ari Media is and does.
I had a personal desire to find new ways to "brand the brand." I began by designing a new concept jacket, adding to my growing collection of "Simply Ari Swag." The next step was to get our logo created. I conceptualized and collaborated with a very talented visual artist, Constance Wilson, who has been sought after by other brands, companies, and the quintessence of all search engines (Google). Together we produced a beautiful design that we both love and of which we are very proud.
Most recently, I had the privilege of being photographed by Sierra Johnson, an #InstaFriend and a local photographer, whose work and visual aesthetic matched the vision I had in mind for Simply Ari Media’s 2018 photoshoot. The theme was, "90’s Grunge and Glam." As a woman born in the 90’s, I have an affinity for certain aspects of the era: hip hop culture, the music, the fashion, the art, and all the quirks and fads that made the 90’s so special. I wanted to dig deep within myself and pull from real places, real aspects that inspired me. The first thing that came to mind was the show, "A Different World." What I loved and appreciated about that sitcom was that it made it cool to be smart. The iconic styles of Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet), Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison), Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) Walter Oakes (Sinbad), Ron Johnson (Darryl M. Bell) and Freddie Brookes (Cree Summer) were memorable and classic 90’s. I wanted to give a nod to education and pay homage to a show that broke records and barriers in pop culture and inspired African-American men and women in the United States in a fun, colorful way.
As a writer and self-proclaimed magazine junkie, I also wanted to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw. (There is one outfit that I think she would have been particularly fond of. Take a look at the gallery. Can you guess which one?) She loved her city of New York as I love my hometown of Washington, District of Columbia. Even though I initially vacillated about where the photoshoot would be staged (NYC or DC), after speaking with a close friend who said, "Ari your audience is here. Keep it local,” I realized she was absolutely right. Sierra and I decided on the beautiful, charismatic and historic neighborhood of Georgetown, in northwest, Washington, DC.
The photoshoot was a play on hard and soft. I believe the 1990’s struck a nice balance between the two. The 90’s represented a cultural shift. It celebrated natural beauty. Music had meaning and depth. The art scene was bold, its colors vibrant and the artists' messages were made clear. Writers of the time, rappers, poets and spoken-word artists, shared their thoughts and ideas unapologetically, with conviction and transparency. The torch of social activists from the past was being carried by a new and passionate generation.
Throughout the photoshoot, you'll see materials like metal, stone, brick and wood juxtaposed with the softness of a smile, a laugh, or my apparel. The contrast was important for me to convey because it represented my life’s journey. I have often been called "a gentle soul" who wears her heart on her sleeve. Consequently, I have had to learn how to guard my heart (see Proverbs 4:23). At times, my attempts have resulted in building barriers that have made it difficult for people to feel like they really know me. As I am learning to strike a balance in my life, I wanted to bring an unaffected vulnerability and quiet passion to the shoot.
And speaking of passion...
...You may notice the choice of lipstick color as well, Color Statement "Red Label" red by Milani Cosmetics. The color red to me represents passion, immediacy, the heart and power. I often say that "red is my power color," a phrase typically used by my sister Rachel in reference to me. It makes me feel a little bit more confident when I go out into the world. All of those elements are what I hope this brand, Simply Ari Media, brings to its thriving community. When someone actively engages on our social media platforms, reads an article or post that I've written, or watches a video I've created, my greatest hope is that the viewer leaves enriched, motivated, inspired and informed, with a greater sense of hope and purpose. Most importantly, I pray for the person to be encouraged and empowered by the love, grace and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
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When Ari isn't out covering events, she's working on bettering herself as a journalist, attending writer-related events, or enjoying spontaneous excursions in and around the Washington DC Metropolitan area.
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