Bed-Stuy artist Tiffany B Chanel is gaining Instagram fame for her sneaker art and unique pop-art portraits.

For Bed-Stuy artist and educator Tiffany B Chanel it all started with a pair of Converse sneakers she wanted.

“I couldn’t find gold Converse anywhere, and I was not willing to give up on the search,” Chanel says smiling. So she bought some gold paint, made her own and wore them every day to her job in SoHo.

“A bunch of tourists would come up and ask where I’d got them from,” she says. “I told them I made them. And they would ask if they could give me their email and I’d do a pair for them.”

While she was passionately working on perfecting her style, the commissions kept rolling in. She documented everything on Instagram and eventually realized she’d become a sneaker artist.

“Randomly Iman Shumpert, the basketball player, contacted me on Instagram, sent me a few pairs of Adidas and I painted them for him,” Chanel says. “He wore them to fashion week and it went viral. And then more commissions came, and I just stuck with the path.”

But it wasn’t until someone requested a portrait of Tamera Mowry’s son Aden that Chanel began painting faces on canvas, and she realized her gift for unique pop art-style portraits.

That was six years ago. Since then she has been commissioned to do portraits for stars including Aisha Hinds, DJ D-Nice, Ava DuVernay and Pam Oliver, as well as brand names such as ESPN and cultural tastemakers including Carol’s Daughter CEO Lisa Price. Her artwork has been featured in The Guardian, Essence, Afropunk and News 12, and can be found all over the streets of Harlem.

Chanel is constantly learning and progressing through her work, whether it’s day to day or week to week, in her studio in Bedford Stuyvesant, inside her grandfather’s old house.

“There’s no right or wrong to art. Some people put a dot on their canvas and they call it art,” she says. “Art is anything, it is whatever you see, but you have to be content to know it’s a finished piece. And you have to say ‘I have to stop here because this is where my growth is today. But tomorrow, I will grow a little bit more and it will be enhanced a little bit more.'”

In addition to creating her own work, Chanel teaches art to students in Brownsville and says it’s important for her to inspire creativity when so much of modern life revolves around technology.

Chanel wants her work to travel all over the world and impact as many places and people as possible. With her portraits, she’s presenting people in a new light who are often amazed by the finished product.

“I’m allowing them to see something within themselves, to connect with their inner beauty that maybe they didn’t even see,” Chanel says.

Tiffany B Chanel will be having her first solo show at Restoration Art early next year. To see more of her art visit www.tiffanybchanelart.com.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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