Creatively Speaking With: Akeya Dickson

She’s inspired by artist Hebru Brantley’s depictions of Black children, is a reformed night owl and knows how to achieve a flow state. Here’s a deeper look at this editor’s mental mood board.

Who? Akeya Dickson, Associate Editorial Director

Akeya’s creative hero: Hebru Brantley

The piece of Brantley’s work that Akeya comes back to again and again: I love the Flyboy series, which is one of the Chicago native artist’s better-known collections. It was inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen. For me, it embraces the concept that children, particularly young Black children, can soar to whatever heights they choose, unfettered. Brantley is a storyteller and often incorporates children into his paintings, sculptures and other works. In the Flyboy series, children are depicted on top of rockets and clouds, charging ahead, complete with aviator goggles. 

Where Akeya does her best work: I recently moved into a new place, so I got this small Novogratz desk that is super light and portable. I’m looking forward to taking it out onto my balcony this spring and summer.

When Akeya does her best work: I’m retraining myself to be most productive at the top of the day, as my default setting was deep into the evening.

Her routine before starting a new project: I do my best work once I’ve gotten all of my distracting jitters out. That can mean I might have to go for a walk, meditate, journal, make my bed, eat a snack first, IV a coffee, put my phone on “do not disturb” and light a candle. I also keep a notebook handy and a stack of colorful Post-its to jot down any intruding thoughts that threaten to interrupt my flow.

Her most treasured possession: I’d say my journal. Journaling helps me feel anchored and connected to myself. It’s an act of healthy selfishness in that you’re setting aside time for you, which we can let slide in service to others.

Her first concert: My first concert was at the Regal Theater on the south side of Chicago with TLC, Mary J. Blige and Shabba Ranks. They were all in the early stages of their careers. I thought I was grown-grown … I was 12 and went with my mom!