Courtesy of Zhané Bradley

USC artist finds inspiration in music

From realistic paintings of Chance the Rapper to vibrant portraits of Travis Scott, when USC student Zhané Bradley is given a paintbrush, there's no telling what the canvas will turn into.

Bradley creates art with many different mediums, focusing on acrylic. She has recently been concentrating on painting musical artists and is often inspired by songs of the musicians she regularly listens to. One of her favorite pieces, she said, is a portrait of Frank Ocean inspired by his album “Blond."

Bradley, a third-year student, started out as an engineering student before switching to visual communications.

“The reason I chose engineering was because I thought I needed to have a professional career in order to be successful,” Bradley said.

Bradley had a lot of support with the decision to change her major. Much of this support came from close friends with the advice that majoring in something that she is passionate about is more important than majoring in something just to become successful.

“It was probably the best decision she ever made in her life,” Taylor Jeter, a third-year integrated information technology student, said. 

Jeter is a friend and roommate of Bradley. She said after Bradley made the switch from engineering to visual communications, she could tell that despite the apprehension, she was "relieved" she finally had the chance to do what she loved — create art.

Jeter is not the only one who is noticing a difference in Bradley’s life since the major switch. Morgan Benson, a third-year psychology student, said her friend's switch to visual communications allows her to have more time to focus on her craft, which is leading to improvement in her work. 

Now that Bradley has more time to create art, she said she understands how relevant art actually is. 

“It's just as important as those other professions just because of the way that it allows you to connect with people,” Bradley said. 

Connecting with people is a goal of Bradley’s. On her Instagram, Bradley posted the story of an uplifting woman she met at a local park who told Bradley she could sense that Bradley was a photographer. After speaking with the woman and finding out that she was homeless, Bradley asked to take her portrait to capture the moment.

In the Instagram post, Bradley said this woman "was one of the most positive people" she ever met. This is one of the many people Bradley has connected to with the help of her artistic abilities. 

“I love people, and I love hearing people’s stories,” Bradley said. 

Besides connecting with people and understanding the importance of art, Bradley said representation in art is also important. She said although black artists in today's society "are becoming more prevalent," she still tries to support other black artists as much as she can.

“As I was growing up, I didn't really see as many [black artists], so I didn't really think about it as a serious profession,” Bradley said. 

She said for a while, she thought art was not for her since she did not see many others like herself in the field. 

After beginning to post her artwork on social media, Bradley said other black artists started to message her, giving her credit for inspiring them to start painting.

After graduating, Bradley is interested in pursuing photojournalism, museum curating or potentially owning her own art gallery. For now, Bradley sells her artwork on an Etsy page, @artbyzlb.


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