Inspired by lipstick shade names, Shaquille-Aaron Keith
created original poems that feature in a series of videos created in collaboration with Beauty Papers Magazine. Here, the artist unveils the inspiration behind his work.
When did you first start writing and why?
I used to write a lot in my early teenage years, my mum used to tell me to read a lot, she used to buy me a lot of Shakespeare’s plays and I loved reading in English class at school, so naturally literature was just something I grew towards, but when I was 14-16, I was writing stuff that wasn’t really important, just stuff to get the attention of girls. One day however, when I was a bit older and hadn’t written in years, I was dating someone, and we were going well, but this other girl, who was supposedly a friend, got very jealous, and she kept disrupting our relationship by flirting and making my partner at the time feel uncomfortable. Ultimately it caused our demise and led to our breakup.
Now heartbroken and angry, I wrote her this angry letter, because I didn’t know how to tell her out loud without sounding mad. I never sent it, but my friend found it and said it sounded like poetry, I even replaced her name in the letter with the word ‘poison’. So every time her name appeared, it was replaced with poison. He then told me, I should write some poetry, I didn’t think to at first, but I realized it was a good way to vent my feelings, and the more I share it with friends the more I realized there was a lot of people out there who feel how I feel, so that’s how it really began.
What inspired you to write these poems?
When I write my poems, I always want people to feel exactly how I felt, I always want people to understand me and know I understand them. For example, with the poems I wrote for the collaboration, I approached speaking about the colors of the lipstick through real life experiences. If you break the poems, it’s more than just words, there is a message. In ‘I Dream Too Much’, I talk about “societal perceptions aren’t so corrupt and can no longer take a young kings crown”. I’m referring to me dreaming about the idea that society doesn’t demonize ethnic minorities like the Black community and the crown in question (our spirit), can no longer be broken. The same for the line “The queen works hard and gets what she deserves, true as what’s written in documented proverbs”. It’s talking about the oppression of women and how society, especially men, need to stop putting down women and show appreciation and equality in society too, especially things like workplaces and sports where there’s constant undermining and discouragement. The colors to me in this campaign spoke to me, so did their names and through this, I just tried to keep it authentic to me.
What emotions did you want to convey?
I’m not sure what emotions I wanted to convey in all of them, but I know there are some emotions that inspired me. I think the most direct emotion I was looking for can be found in ‘Love Before Breakfast.’ That was written from the perspective of someone waking up next to the person they love right before you have your breakfast. That feeling of looking at someone centimeters away from you first thing in the morning is an irreplaceable feeling. I wanted to evoke something between nostalgia and being in love. The same could be said for ‘Goldie Red,’ but I wanted it to be more about passion, and intimacy. The colors and the fact that it’s lipstick always makes me think of beauty, intimacy, poetry in motion through the souls of living beings. The complete 360 is ‘I Dream Too much’ where it was more about real life and just a reminder that though things in life are sweet, sometimes they can be bitter too.
You share quite a lot of your artworks and poetry on social media, what role does this have for you as an artist?
Sharing my work on social media is important to me. It’s where I’ve cultivated a community/safe space to share my work with others and seeing as my work is by me but for the people, it should be shared with them often. I don’t know everyone who may follow a social media account I’m on but when I share my work and they share their opinions, especially gratitude, I’d like to think it brings us that much closer. Which is why I say ‘community’ and not ‘following’, because my platform is more intimate than that, I’d like to believe. Also, in this generation, social media is the THING, and that THING can change your life if used correctly. It’s also a way for people to be seen and a way to make the world smaller. So I think for any artist, or any person, social media is definitely good for putting yourself out there and it just really comes in handy if you have a talent or something important to say.