Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
The artist Allison Tinati, known as “Hueman” in the art world, seduces the eye with sweeps of color. Her canvases range from the sides of buildings to video game consoles, and she’s had a hand in helping brands enliven their look with vibrant new product designs and revamped interiors. She’s painted stimulating murals for companies like WeWork and L’Oréal, created colorful backdrops for the MTV VMAs, produced artwork to be featured in all NYX Cosmetics stores around the globe, and designed a spirited new look for the USA Women’s Basketball Team’s Nike shoes for the 2016 Olympics. Her work can also be found in galleries and at art shows around the world, and around the calendar year.
Whitewall spoke with Tinati to learn more about her artistic gears, sticking to guidelines, and creating beauty.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your background in art. How has your interest and professional career grown?
ALLISON TINATI: I’m a self-taught painter, with the exception of a couple of high school visual arts classes. I graduated from the Design Media Arts program at UCLA in 2008. As a freelance graphic and Web designer, I tried to start my own branding studio while in my senior year of college, and learned quickly just how difficult that would be. It took a few hard lessons to realize that all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life was paint and make art.
WW: What is typically your starting point for your projects?
AT: The way I approach a project varies. Working on murals and client gigs are the easiest, probably because they’re one-offs that I don’t need to revisit after they’re done. For murals, I take into account the scale of the wall, its shape, the location, and the community that will live with it every day. Every mural is designed specifically for the wall it lives on. On client projects, there’s usually a set of guidelines, and luckily I’ve been blessed with clients that, for the most part, just let me be me.
The most daunting is when I’m working on something purely self-initiated, without restrictions, like for a solo show. I think I do my best work when I’ve got limits set against me. But when I’m asked to create magic out of thin air, it does freak me out a little. I have a million ideas running through my mind at any moment, and guidelines help me focus and narrow things down, so I need to create those limits for myself. When I’m working on a series, I start with a theme in mind. I’ll do a bunch of small studies to figure out the direction I want to take things.
WW: What’s it like working with brands like Nike and Universal Pictures to achieve a new look?
AT: A lot of these big projects came to me through friends and people in my network. Other times a company will find me through social media, or they’ve seen my work on the street. At the moment, there are tons of opportunity for creatives in all disciplines, as brands have been getting more involved in the arts.
A lot of what I do with brands now is different from the client work I did as a designer. Back then, there was much more direction and feedback—a typical client/designer relationship.
Now as an artist, when a brand approaches me to help design a part of a brand experience or a product, the parameters tend to be much more open-ended. Basically, “do your thing” is something I hear often. I have a distinct style, and I’m expected to deliver on that style. This can be a good and a bad thing. It’s not so great when you’re ready to evolve and a client wants you to do more of the same. But I’m not complaining. Working with brands is high visibility, and it affords me the time and resources to do the work I really want to do on my own—the passion projects.