With an exhausted sigh and a satisfying stretch, senior Shavonne Hines-Foster shuts her computer off after a long day of work. She has spent many hours in Zoom meetings, both for school and her responsibilities as an SFUSD student delegate. Despite that, Hines-Foster gets up and goes to collect her canvases and paints, sits down, and gets to work. After all, this is the most relaxing part of her day, and she has orders to fulfill.
Many people know Hines-Foster for her work as a student leader, but few know her as an artist.
Shavonne Hines-Foster is well known in the Lowell community. Not only is she the SFUSD student delegate, an SBC board member, and a 2020 Census ambassador, but she is widely known for speaking up on issues relating to equity and justice. She is lesser-known for her passion for art. Throughout 2020, she has taken this hobby and built her own small business: creating and selling custom art on Instagram.
Art serves as an outlet for Hines-Foster in addition to a business and a hobby. She leads a very busy life and, on occasion, needs a way to let off steam. “Art is definitely a positive thing to go to when you want to pass some time, or you are stressed,” Hines-Foster said. Starting her page on Instagram was a way for her to incorporate art more closely into her everyday life.
Hines-Foster has been doing art since she was young and even attended a summer program in 2012 that trained her in graffiti art. She had been creating pieces for friends years before she thought to make more of it. “I honestly thought about making it a business after I did a few graffiti name pieces for my friends,” Hines-Foster said. “I [posted] it on social media [when] I was doing it for free and a lot of people were like, ‘Yo, you should start your own business.’” So, she did. Hines-Foster launched her art Instagram page, and her direct messages were open for people to request their custom orders.
While Hines-Foster is dedicated to the work that she does as a student leader and organizer, she says people often don’t know about her other pursuits. “I guess my art is pretty slept on,” Foster said. “A lot of people know me as the student advocate, so not everyone knows I do art.” However, that does not mean that she is without customers. Foster says a lot of her patrons are people invested in her leadership. “I think that the people that are really involved and engaged on my [personal] account know I do art and usually go to my art account and show their support from there,” Foster said.
In some ways, people can support Foster’s work as an advocate through her business. On occasion, she merges the two pursuits. This summer, she used her craft to support the Black Lives Matter movement by donating to the NAACP legal fund. “At first, I had donated to the Black Visions Collective, but they got overfunded, so I ended up switching,” Hines-Foster said. “I got a lot of support around that.” Even before the peak of BLM activism this summer, Hines-Foster emphasized that cultural representation through her art has always been one of her core values. “I try to include a lot of different cultures,” Foster said. “I try to do a lot of pieces that showcase Black culture and Latinx culture.”
Hines-Foster in continually exploring different art forms and mediums. “I had started off making graffiti names on paper, but then I thought it would be really cool if I made them on canvas,” Foster said. “So, I decided to do graffiti names on canvas. From there, I started making ashtrays, coasters, and jewelry plates.” Today, not only does she do custom pieces ranging from characters from the show Avatar the Last Airbender to personalized silhouettes of people, but she even launched her new line of resin jewelry products.
Over the course of this year, Hines-Foster has seen her business grow. She launched her page on Instagram in March of 2020 and has already sold around 100 pieces. Even with all the progress, her business has made in such a short time, Hines-Foster says she is likely to keep growing by trying new mediums and subjects. “I don’t have any plans right now, but if I get an idea, I’ll put it to use,” Hines-Foster said. Learning new techniques and trying new projects is what she says has made this journey exciting for her.
For now, her art business will remain a passion project that she works on after all of her Zoom calls. While it has been a bonus to find a way to do good with her hobby, there remains a personal element to her work. “It’s something I can focus on. I put in a lot of details, and it’s really calming” said Hines-Foster. Art is an important outlet of expression for her. So, while the world may be chaotic and school work overwhelming, at the end of the day, she can always lay out some canvases, get out some paints, and let it all go.