photo of Coko under a tunnel of roses. She has teal blue hair, a big smile, lots of tattoos, and is wearing a light blue dress

There’s probably a lot you don’t know about me – even I have trouble figuring me out. It’s a little overwhelming, having a blank page and so much to say. I’ll take advice from the first self help book I ever read and “start where [I] am”.

I’m Coko. I’m 24. I live in Los Angeles (well, technically Glendale). I make art. Lots of it. I always have, only I just recently realized that. You see, I grew up thinking I wasn’t good enough. A lot. I got praise from my peers and my parents, but I always had a nagging feeling that they were full of BS and I sucked. Not sure where that came from (cough cough Bipolar 1 Disorder cough cough), and I’ve been in therapy for years slowly chipping away at the feeling. But I still made a lot of art. I painted, I danced, I put videos of me dramatically singing Taylor Swift with a Costco guitar I taught myself to play on YouTube. I participated every year in Odyssey of the Mind, which really forced me to get creative (even when I didn’t want to). So from ages 18-22, I told myself I was meant to be a businesswoman. And that’s what I set out to do. I started my own business, making handmade clothing and home goods. But throughout all of that, I never considered myself an “artist”.

When I moved to LA, I became friends with a lot of artists, and none of them were living the “artist” lifestyle I thought was so necessary. They were just living and making art. I realized, hey, I do that too. I’m alive, and I make art. So I’m an artist, too. That was easier than I thought.

Then I started thinking even more about art and my relationship with it. Art can be anything, made by anyone. As long as the artist intends for it to be art, it’s ART. Art art aRT aRt arT art. So by that definition, everything can be art! My paintings, music, sewing, design, organization, cooking, style, poetry… ALL ART. Might be simple to you, but it was revolutionary for me.

Once I figured out I was already an artist, that was all I wanted to be. A lot of insecurities started dropping away. I no longer cared about catering my feed and image to get more likes or followers. I didn’t want to hang out at bars with coworkers after work to make them like me. I didn’t feel nauseous every time I ate a carb, knowing I wouldn’t fit into the normal beauty standards. I just wanted to be an artist, be myself. So I deleted my instagram, the one I had spent years busting my ass to get good outfit and sunset pics for, and started something new. A chapter of my life that would be defined by my happiness, and not the brands that sent me clothes for free or the aesthetic I chose when I was 16. Since then, art.by.coko has been my way to share my art. I upload what I want, whenever I want. Sometimes it gets 8 likes, sometimes more. I don’t really care – and that might sound like BS in 2020, but it isn’t. There is so much freedom and relief in allowing yourself to just BE, without constantly trying to make your life and reality fit into a square on a screen on a phone.

So, back to where I am now. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The world is protesting in the name of social justice and reform. I’m laying in a U-shaped pregnancy pillow on my bed in the apartment I share with my best friend / angel boyfriend, I’m typing on my work laptop that hasn’t been used in months due to furlough, and I’m starting a website. Because I have a lot more to say than what fits in a square. And because I’m having back surgery in a week and will need something to do.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for respecting my art.

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