Tacoma's Tiffanny Hammonds Paints the Town

Tacoma's Tiffanny Hammonds Paints the Town
Tiffanny Hammonds, Photo credit Tyler Jones Photography

Tiffanny Hammonds (she/her) is a Hilltop Artist based in Tacoma, Washington. Hammonds uses her expressions of art as a voice in her community. Since she was a child she has dabbled in acrylics and mixed media, then in 2015 she developed the medium of oils. Her style is best described as realism and expression with how she captures her surroundings. She is a youth advocate and is passionate about helping young people define themselves and discover their purpose. Some of the projects she’s involved in are, the People's Center Mural, the 5 Stages Mural, the Water Flume Mural, the Salishan Mural, Design the Hill and managing the Fab-5 Headquarters in Hilltop.

How did your love affair with art begin?

My love affair with art began with my Dad giving me these white angel statues and making it seem like they weren’t colored yet, like a coloring book. He would give me paintbrushes, markers and crayons and tell me to color them however I wanted to color them. My brother was also a creative and whatever he did I would do as well. Whether it was skateboarding or playing with action figures, whatever he did I followed.

So when it got to the point where he started doing graffiti, I had to learn how to do graffiti. I copied his letters, his color palette, his everything, because I looked up to him. My brother started hanging out with Chris (Jordan) and Kenji (Stoli).

Chris ended up doing a mural in our basement and I would come downstairs and offer him water or a sandwich just to watch his process. I was blown away by his art. After a while, I intentionally drew the best piece that I could and put it on the refrigerator….. when Chris realized that the picture was mine he invited to help on a mural. Everything really grew from there.

A stunning mural by Tiffanny Hammonds painted on the Satori storefront as a part of the Rapid Mural program initiated by Spaceworks. Photo credit: Annie Marek-Barta

How do you continue to do the work that you're doing?

I know that I'm not going to be in Tacoma forever but right now there's still a mission I have to accomplish and I'm not really a hundred percent sure what that is, but I mean, I know it involves young people, I know it involves the communities that I'm in. None of my art has anything to do with me or my voice or who I am as a person. My inspiration is to heal and create space because living in Washington where so many people are depressed and hopeless with all of these micro-aggressions, racism and problematic things. I see things in a different perspective and I put that perspective out to encourage, to bring hope and healing to people who don't have it.

What about color do you wish people understood on a deeper level?

In the heavenly realms, there are colors that we can’t even imagine. Color has the power to impact mood. It even has the power to make someone get an appetite. Color has the ability to represent different groups of people. When I use color I try very much to create messages and code things. Dark colors don't always mean bad and light colors doesn't always mean good. There are multiple sides to everything. My mother use to flag at church and she would change the color depending on the spiritual atmosphere. I mean I can go on but there are certain things you can see that you can't really explain. I might not have the widest vernacular, but I can mix colors. I can make any color that I see.

Tiffanny Hammonds in front of her colorful work on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma, Washington. Photo credit: Annie Marek-Barta

How has Fab-5 empowered you as an artist?

Chris and Kenji don’t take credit for anything but I literally thank them all the time. I call Fab-5 my sanctuary…honest to God I feel like God used it as a tool to keep me alive. I recognize how important it is for Fab 5 to exist because it’s authentic and truly centered on creating leaders. It’s a catalyst for pulling greatness out of people and helping them do what they’re naturally created to do.

How does teaching influence your creation process?

Teaching opens my eyes. I’ve always been a youth advocate. My heart has always been for young people. I've been teaching since I was 12. I started at McCarver Scholars after school teaching graffiti classes and I've taught at Metro Parks, Fab-5, the YMCA, almost everywhere. Kids are the epitome of art. They are the perfect example of creativity. They’ll draw a scribble and you’ll think it’s a heart but they’ll tell you it’s a giraffe. They don’t hesitate. I like to tell the students to put out their thumbprints and encourage them to look around the room to try to find anyone else who has a thumbprint just like theirs. It’s a reminder about the individuality of your art. Many of the things that I doubt and overthink, my students do so effortlessly. Most of my teaching is really un-teaching. Being a chaperone, provoking their thoughts and provoking them to dig deeper into what they already do naturally.

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