We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaliyah Lachel’e and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaliyah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been drawing for years— literally for as long as I can remember. Growing up, people would ask me if I could do little pieces for them, or if I could make characters that looked like them or their kids. Every once in awhile, one of my parents’ friends would ask me for a project. They’d pay me for something like a 11×19 portrait and would post it on Facebook. As I got older and my artistic abilities developed, we realized more and more people wanted to commission me. We also noticed that more and more people wanted to pay me. So, my mother figured, “Why don’t we put a name to what you do?” We started an Instagram account, started up a website, and began PeanutbuddarArt.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
PeanutbuddarArt is all about Peanutbutter (me) and the way I perceive the world around me. My characters are based off of the people that I’ve met, their stories are based off of the lives of the people around me. I use all of my favorite colors, styles, and aesthetics. Sometimes I’ll exaggerate, or pump out a universe where nothing is even remotely close to what we see today. However, a little bit of fantasy never hurt anyone. I would argue that all of my artwork looks like it’s been sprinkled with a little bit of magic/fantastical elements, but even then, all of my non-ordinary ideas come from my subconscious. I draw my dreams, write out stories I’ve had in my head for years, and create worlds that I’ve only ever read about in books or seen in video games. For me, being able to see myself represented is incredibly important. Being able to see characters that walk, talk, act, look, and sound like me encourages me to go out and be those people that I see in those stories. I’ve been blessed with the talent that I have, and I want to use it to create more black and brown stories. If I can create a princess who fights off bad vibes with paintbrushes and wide-tooth-combs, then I’m going to make her. If a little girl with afro-puffs looks at my character and sees herself, then my job is done.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Out here near Chicago Chicago Heights the possibilities are endless. I would definitely have to take them downtown to see the city! If we had planned the trip beforehand, I would love to take them to a concert at the Aragon Ballroom or Allstate Arena. Spending a day on the lakeshore or wandering around downtown is always a good idea in my eyes. Granted, walking around downtown Chicago for a week straight gets tiring after awhile. Out here in the suburbs I think it’s much more casual. If they still had some energy, I would take them out to a nearby mall. I love shopping— I’ll spend an hour in FYE and immediately book it into Hot Topic next. When it comes to food, getting authentic Mexican tacos or Polish pirogies is a must. I know Chicago is known for its hotdogs and pizza, but there is so much culture here it’s unbelievable. If they’re not a big fan of huge, teenager run malls, we could always go to a flea market. Sunday’s where I live are the time to go. Everyone’s got their tents out and their best thrifted hand-me-downs. Once again, I’ll spend hours there before booking it to a taco place. If we have time to spare, spending the lazy days wandering the neighborhood will do just as fine. I live across the street from some beautiful woods. A creek runs through the forest into a fishing lake, and I love taking new friends through the trees out to the other side. Watching the fish and frogs is always a wonderful way to wind down an awesome week of hanging out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my family. My mother first and foremost, as she is my #1 supporter. She pushes herself beyond her limits to make sure that I can do whatever I want to with my artwork, and she’s never stopped being active. My sister and my father are my two biggest muses— they encourage me to keep creating. Until they can see themselves in a book or on a TV screen I won’t stop drawing. And even after that, I don’t think I’ll stop. I also want to address all of the authors, illustrators, novelists, producers, and creators who I grew up admiring. Stephen King, R.L. Stine, Rebecca Sugar, J.G. Quintel, and Pendleton Ward are some of my favorite creators. My goal is to do exactly what they do.