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All photos courtesy of TJD and American Queen

All photos courtesy of TJD and American Queen

What may seem more like an homage to Basquiat or Keith Haring is actually a new line of hats inspired by the original paintings of TJD, a black female artist in Philly who creates under the guise of American Queen TJD. With messages that give loving, powerful nods to “Queens,” “Kings” and “Female Artists,” the hats – like the paintings – use both word and image to drive home messages about women’s empowerment.

“Growing up in Philadelphia, I can remember running to the TV to watch Saturday morning cartoons with my sketchpad,” TJD writes. “And as I would sit and watch, I stared intensely, hoping to sketch the characters as best I could.”

Her drawing book, brimming with Looney Tunes and Ninja Turtles, eventually gave way to images inspired by her own life – her family, classmates and home. By the time she was in high school, TJD eventually started her own fashion line with tees and caps called Cocky Persona/Cocky Caps that have been sold in Philly and New York.

The artist at work

The artist at work

Her nude art series – “You Can’t Take it With You” – also began popping up all over social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, drawing critical attention thanks to head-turning images of nude women fashioned with sneakers, sports caps and angel wings – and with messages about society’s obsession with material culture.

“If I had to label myself, I would call myself an abstract expressionist,” she says. But with influences as diverse as graffiti artists (Basquiat’s famous crown can be found in much of her work, including many of the new caps) to music superstars like Kanye West, TJD is cashing in on both her fine art and street cred.

“My most recent artwork takes a critical view of social, cultural and interpersonal issues,” she writes. “In my work, I deconstruct the American Dream and interpersonal fairy tales that are a part of our childhood and adult cultures.”

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