Interview with Trisha Beher, Artist, Writer, & Activist!

Trisha Beher is a youth artist, writer, and activist. She is determined to use her work as the catalyst of inspiration for other teen creators to make an impact on lives and communities through the arts. Since she wanted to see more teen involvement in artivism, Trisha founded ASF youth, or the Art Shine Foundation, which aims to give Gen Z artists a platform to share their work.

Interview by Joann Lam

Hi Trisha! How are you doing? Could you first start by introducing yourself? I’m hanging in there! It’s been a crazy time but I’m doing my best to stay sane :). So I’m currently a junior, and I’m an artist, writer, and activist based in WA. Well, nice to meet you. My first question is when did you first start your account, and what inspired you to create your account? I started the account several years ago, where I had just gone through a really bad sports injury and was looking for ways to keep my mental health intact. And I saw that art was a way for me to express so many different things I couldn’t in words, which is why I really started getting involved in creating and finding my way in the artistic community. It really helped manage the stress and pain I was going through at the time, and gave me a way to share my work on a platform online Scrolling through @tri_bearart, I noticed that you started way back in 2016, how has your account changed since then? I would say that before, creating and doing art was more of a hobby, but now I’m leaning towards doing more professional artwork. Also, my more recent artwork has more personality to it- I’ve been experimenting and adding character to my pieces so that I can show deeper themes through my artwork and call attention to certain societal norms. Lastly, I’ve been using my art to help inspire people to have hope during this uncertain time, and I really want to have a wonderful impact on. So I’d say my artwork has definitely improved and grown, and my art style has changed immensely over the last few years In addition, how has your technique changed? For example, can you draw at a faster speed, or do you shade differently now? I see massive improvement every time I create a piece. I used to be intimidated by colored pencil work but now I can do realistic portraits in 3-4 hours. I wasn’t great at digital art, and that’s something I’ve been trying to explore recently as well. Overall, I’ve developed a more keen eye for negative space while drawing, so this has really enabled me to improve my skills as an artist and illustrator. For your other account, @asfyouth, would you first start off with describing your organization for those who have never heard of ASF, and explaining your intentions with this organization? For sure. ASF, or the Art Shine Foundation is a youth-led organization I started that is dedicated to furthering leadership, service, and creativity amongst Gen Z. As a teen who has used the arts to help me in some of my worst times, I know art has the power to change communities and transform lives. That’s why I wanted to create an organization devoted to the cause which serves as an inclusive and diverse space for teen creators to connect, learn, and help improve the lives of other people through art!

What led you to decide to make a website for your organization? What was the process like starting your website design? Since we’re living in such a digital age, I knew that having a platform would be essential to the success of the organization. I’m not a huge Computer Science person, so I was unsure how exactly I would go about creating a website, but I realized that website creators can be simple and there are tools to help you understand website creation, so I figured I was capable of doing it. Using online resources, I was actually able to put a simple but relatively elegant website together pretty quickly. What would you describe as a perfect applicant for those interested in applying? I’d say that the perfect applicant is someone who first of all, understands ASF’s mission well. As long as we have people who recognize the core fundamentals of our organization, it won’t be hard to carry our projects for our cause. We want our team to be collaborative and honest, and we’re looking for those traits in the people applying. I’ve had a lot of questions asked about whether applicants need to be good at art, and I’ve been telling those people no, you don’t have to be good at art, but you should have a passion for being kind, and be a creative thinker: someone who can bring ideas to the table and help make them happen :) Going back to what you said about how asfyouth was an important part of your art journey, would you elaborate more on that? Sure: so when the pandemic just started out, I was looking for ways to help my community. Previously, I had done a lot of polymer clay work, but I had gotten super busy with school and hadn’t had time to continue. Then, I was like: oh! Maybe I can use some of my art skills to have an impact, even if it is a small impact. So I created this fundraiser from scratch (which was scary, because I had to make a website, do all this finance stuff, figure out how to market the fundraiser, ship the goods, etc). I called it the Shine Bright Fundraiser, and basically, I was making these polymer clay star charms and selling them to raise money. I eventually ended up collecting and donating over $300 to Food Lifeline, which is a local food bank that was in need of donations. And when I saw that I could have a positive impact on those around me through artwork, I wanted to make that bigger. I wanted other teens to get involved in something similar to create change at a larger scale trishabear's profile picture. Starting off as an artist, I had no idea I would build an organization because of my passion for creating, and that’s why ASF is so special to me. Has ASF ever gotten in the way with your school schedule? For sure! I’m a junior, and starting an organization right now is actually really hard. Yes I’m at home, but school work continues, and let me not say the dreaded words: college apps! There’s so much work to be done before college apps are released and school assignments are still a commitment. I’m hoping that ASF can finish the first project by July but I’m hoping my other commitments don’t get in the way of achieving that deadline. What do you want to see in your art or your account in a couple years? Do you have any goals? I definitely want to continue artivism (activism through art, if you are unfamiliar with the term haha) and I want to reach and connect with my viewers always. I’m hoping that in the near future, I can create an art business to teach students art, and make and sell my own artwork. I also want to see ASF grow and leave a lasting impact on the community through our projects. That’s something I’m really looking forward to doing. I

hope I can also get in touch with many other amazing teen organizations (like Cliche teen) and be able to share my story and future aspirations! Have you ever dealt with any backlash or mean comments on your account? If you have, how have you dealt with that? Thankfully, I have met with a really positive and encouraging community of artists on Instagram. If I ever were to receive backlash for say, creating a controversial piece of art, I would always be open for discussion: but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t let any negativity affect me as a person or my art-making processes. I’ve asked about how your account has changed over the years, but how have you changed due to your art or ASF? What a great question :) I’d say that seeing such an amazing community of teen artists/creators really gives me hope. I’ve received so much support over the last few weeks for ASF and I’m beyond excited to meet and work with people from around the globe. Art has made me an open-minded person. I’m always looking for opportunities, always looking for interesting people to talk and connect to, and constantly using the world around me as an inspiration for what I create. So I’d say art and ASF has had a beyond profound effect on me as a person.

Do you have any advice or want to share any lessons you learned throughout the development of your account? I would tell people looking to start an initiative to start small and dream big. I think the biggest barrier people face in starting something is themselves, and I speak from personal experience. I would have started an organization like this earlier, but I was too scared. I thought I wasn’t capable, and I would always compare myself to other people. Now, people are telling me it’s too late to start something. But I don’t think it’s ever too late to start something, to make a difference: and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned through doing all of this. I love art, and if I’m able to help others have an impact on their communities, I’m passionate about it, and I’m willing to do it no matter which obstacles come in my way.

Who inspires you personally? (Any art accounts, people or other artists to suggest?)

No one specific is coming to mind, but there are some organizations that have been really kind and supportive such as Faces of Feminism and the Colorization Collective! Again, not specific people, but they’ve helped amplify my voice as a teen artist. That’s all the questions I have for you, thank you so much for your well-thought out answers. Your story is truly an inspiration to all, I’m glad that more people will get to hear your story. The Cliche Teen Journal team, as well as I, are very thankful that you took the time out of your day to participate in this interview. Have an amazing rest of your day/night! ;) Amazing, thank you so much for your time! This was a really wonderful opportunity!

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