A Conversation with: TrapxArt
Combine art with amped up nightlife, and a community begins to thrive. TrapxArt is a vibrant hub and safe space for young artists to showcase their work without prejudice. Breaking the cycle of racism and gender gaps historically embedded into the traditional art world, TrapxArt works to uplift all voices and celebrate the urban creative mind.
Founded in 2013 by Amina and Jesse Brooks, the initial aim of TrapxArt was to provide a judgment free zone where young creatives could display and sell artwork. The Black-owned platform hosts events and networking opportunities across the U.S. and Toronto, showcasing artists including Ace Ov Keyz, Reezy Capone and Courtney Allaire.
TrapxArt’s next Toronto event will take place October 27 at Leng Keng Bar and Lounge for a special Halloween costume party and art show. Ahead of the event, we spoke with co-founder Amina Brooks to hear what the platform is all about.
How did you and your business partner, Jess Brooks, come up with the idea for TrapxArt?
We started doing parties in 2010. We are based in the Bay Area, California and we were working in San Francisco at different venues. We came across an art gallery that also was kind of like a nightclub but they had art inside and so we started throwing events there and it was really cool. We weren’t bringing in artists yet but they had art. Then we had a few artists ask us “I know they have the art on the walls but can we bring our art too?” And we’re like, “Yeah, that would be cool.”
What can attendees look forward to when attending TrapxArt events?
When you walk in, there’s just art everywhere, we have a DJ that plays through the duration of the night. The bar is open, so people can get drinks and people dance. It’s like a party but the art is there as well. About midway through the night, we feature fashion shows at some events. At the Toronto event that just passed on July 21, we had a couple different designers with local models from Toronto modeling their clothing. The events usually start at 10 and go to about 2 a.m. so it’s just a party and people are collaborating, dancing and having a good time.
How did TrapxArt expand from California to the U.S. and Toronto?
We started in San Francisco and for two years we consistently hosted events only in San Francisco. We live in Oakland which is just a 15-minute drive across the bridge but it’s a totally different market and so, we did our first event outside of San Francisco in Oakland, which made sense, because it’s right here and it was a huge success. After that, we just started to realize that there are artists and artistic communities everywhere. From there, we just decided that we should start looking at most major cities and seeing if we could connect with a venue that would share the same values that we have. We have had such great success here.
Toronto has been great. We started doing Toronto events pre-pandemic and we’ve done them at a few different places and it’s just been awesome. Even though it’s technically a different country, it doesn’t really feel like it. We’ve also done a couple of events in London, which were different because that is a totally different country and that was cool. Although each city is different, we see a lot of similarities because it’s that same drive of young artists coming together in a space and so it’s really inspiring to be able to go from Cincinnati to Toronto to London to Atlanta to New York and it’s different but it’s the same.
What is the TrapxArt Foundation and how does it contribute to the overall mission and goals of TrapxArt?
What we hoped to do with it is create a lot of different programs for the youth as well because right now 99 percent of our events are either in 19+ in Canada or 21+ in the U.S. We don’t really have anything for the youth and I think having a foundation for the youth is really important. I know specifically where I live in our school district and our public school districts a lot of art classes have been cut because of budgeting and different things like that.
We definitely want to create some programs where we’re bridging our younger adult artists with our elementary junior high school students. In addition to that we want to support the artists who are currently part of our network and try to start doing different types of grants and different things where we can support them monetarily on different projects that they want to work on.
What impact do you hope TrapxArt has on artists and their communities?
It is really fulfilling every time you have an artist tell you after the fact or you see them post on social media that they made their first art sale ever at Trap Art. That itself is all I need. On top of the artists themselves, a lot of times people may come to the event and not even realize how creative they are and they come to see these other people that are showcasing and they think, maybe I could do this. So in addition to the artists that are actually showcasing, it is creating a hub for the community that inspires people to be their most creative selves.
What advice do you have for young artists looking to showcase their work and make a name for themselves?
You might come to a show and people may or may not buy your work but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep doing it. You may come to a one show and it’s a huge hit and the next show may not be but that doesn’t mean that your art isn’t good. Imagine creating something that you made from your mind with passion and you put it there and then maybe it doesn’t get the response that you want. Overall, I think just being flexible and being open to the process of putting yourself out there as an artist, not being discouraged by not getting immediate results and to just keep going.
What does the future have in store for TrapxArt?
I hope to build the TrapxArt foundation and that’s really going to be something that I focus on because although I do love throwing the events and having the events, I want to create something that’s even more impactful than just one night, where people can really grow and sustain [themselves] from being an artist. We are definitely going to continue doing events, but I really want to work on growing the nonprofit portion and continue to try to build relationships in different cities so that we can continue to host events internationally.
Upcoming events scheduled for Fall 2023 will feature local ambassadors, vendors, designers and artists to interact with communities and showcase creativity. If you’re looking for an inclusive space with exclusive talents and nightlife vibes, be on the lookout for a TrapxArt event in your area.
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Kristen Case is a Glossi Mag contributor.
Kristen is a fashion, thrifting and coffee enthusiast. She also works at Matte PR.