If Gucci Mane and Bob the Builder had a baby, could she be anything less than a dope ass creator? I think not. Though I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I sat awaiting her arrival. I’d done my research, the usual Instagram stalking and had become familiar with some of her work. In case you aren’t, the whimsical illustrations used to promote events like Broccoli City, Jungle Fever, Trillectro and Girlaaa, are a few examples but certainly not enough to answer the questions of Who, What and Why?
Tenbeete Solomon, known as Trap Bob, is the pop of color in a world gone gray and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that her hair is green!
As the Creative Director for Girlaaa, she gives women a platform for empowerment and expression through, art, music and culture. Somewhat of an artist-activist, she believes in truly “giving voice” to the causes she picks up. “It’s about making sure people are involved in the conversation, any opportunity to support a movement and put excitement behind it is what I’m about.”
It’s a theme we see throughout her body of work, inclusivity. Tenbeete is always looking for ways to keep things relevant, relatable and fun. Genuinely inspired by life, her imagination can be sparked by something as simple as watching a cartoon or as complex as an unpacked emotion. Once it strikes, she is a woman consumed. “I get an idea and it just takes over my head, I have to put it down. From there, the longest part of my process is figuring out what I want to do with it because I have a million ways to translate ideas. When I focus in on what I want, I begin to pick the colors, I’ll have some concept of the colors in the beginning but have no idea of where it’s going until the end. And when I feel a random twitch or begin to smile, I have to stop, it’s how I know, whatever it is, it’s finished.”
With no shortage of projects, she’s appropriately labeled herself “all over the place” and willing to try almost any that comes her way. A few months prior she tried her hand as Visual Jockey for Chicken and Mambo Sauce and now she’s exploring ways to add the service to her business. “I had never done that before but I was already doing the illustrations, why not?” Every new experience expands her repertoire and her reach. So, of course everyone’s asking what’s next?
As many creatives in D.C. experience a push-pull dilemma, torn between leaving home to amplify their voices and the grind of attracting larger audiences to the home front, Tenbeete’s feet are firmly planted in the District. “I don’t plan on leaving D.C. I want to be a part of its growth. … It always comes up in the creative field to go to cities like L.A. and New York but I think it’s important to stay and support the community that gave you a platform to pursue that passion.”
Tenbeete sees the raw talent, the hungry and passionate people whose energy will keep the city going. These creatives will pave the way for those who once thought success could only be realized beyond our city limits. And, she’s living proof. The decision to take her work seriously was the first step in a long process called “the grind.” Completing almost 50 shows in her first year as a true artist, networking and using those connections to gain exposure and access, Tenbeete got it done.
Now, she can enjoy the rewards of some of that hard work. Her face was glowing with excitement as we discussed her next big project, a large-scale art installation with Girlaaa opening next year. The details are still under wraps but it will be Tenbeete’s greatest creative endeavor and it’s going to be “Crazy” so stay tuned!