The celebration of Black creatives has been abundant over the last year, with many finally seeing recognition for their work.
Unlike those who have recently received flowers, illustrator and animator Thaddeus Coates has been around for a while and is using his platform to make more room for Black content creators in the digital world.
Coates, a D.C. native, and New York-based content creator appeared to break the internet last summer during protests against the murder of George Floyd and others. His art became a viral sensation, calling attention to injustices in America while demonstrating outstanding support for his community. Namely, his “When I Say Black Lives Matter, That Includes Queer Black Lives Too” illustration, designed in 2020 for his emotional release amidst the pandemic and waves of civil unrest impacting Black lives and their experience with discrimination daily.
Coates has always been a creative kid, and he now wants to share his success with other Black creatives looking to gain exposure for their work in the digital space.
His catchphrase, “representation matters,” has evolved into more than a catchphrase but also an actionable cause.
“Before, it was a pioneering thing,” he explained, “I felt like it really meant to show everyone and for everyone to have a seat at the table while not being afraid to create your own seat.” “There’s a lot of power in cultivating your own space and allowing people to pull up a chair, which is what I’ve tried to do with my platform.”
Coates, a well-known advocate for fellow content creators, has emphasized the importance of being a symbol of unity in his work and beyond. His understanding of his place in the industry has helped shape how we navigate this wave of fashionable support for Black communities. One way to celebrate Juneteenth and embrace Black culture is to advocate for Black content creators.
Outside of Black creatives, Coates advocates for the importance of sharing their work on other people’s platforms. Their work can be written, drawn, or musical; the possibilities are limitless and illuminating.
“It can be so monumental to share someone else’s work,” he said. “There are so many opportunities that come from sharing work; I think we constantly underestimate that.” My entire surge throughout the pandemic was caused by someone sharing my work.”
Coates said he’s “not sure how I would’ve gotten this far” without the support of those who uplifted his art during the pandemic’s social unrest.
After joining the American Eagle family as a model in 2018, Coates had his breakthrough moment. Following his debut season, he has appeared every season since, proving that representation knows no bounds.
The brand partnerships he’s secured through his life’s work have been the pinnacle of his achievements.
Thaddeus has previously collaborated with Acura, Nike, Instagram, Ivy Park, Payless, and VH1. Then became the face of Target’s premier athletic brand with his most recent Kwanzaa collaboration with Cartoon Network; Coates has had his fair share of explosive creative projects laying the groundwork for a lifetime of career success.
Looking ahead, he’s currently focused on other projects that have been released, including the release of his book, “Everybody Shines,” which is now available to order.