An artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Sophia Yeshi is not only being shipped across the country, but it's also bringing attention to Black-owned businesses during Black History Month.
When an agency contacted Yeshi back in October 2020, she had no idea that her work would end up on UPS express boxes. She also didn't realize the impact her art could have, or that she was the first artist to ever be commissioned by the shipping company.
"I just thought this is a cool project. I could have my art on a UPS box, but actually seeing the impact and the reach has been really amazing," Yeshi told NBC New York.
She says she presented a few sketches to UPS and the piece titled "Let's Rise Together" was a concept the company gravitated towards and decided to stick with.
"The whole idea was really inspired by UPS saying 41% of Black-owned businesses closed in 2020 because of the pandemic, and they really wanted to do something to support these businesses and to encourage people to shop with them," Yeshi said. "So, I just wanted to capture that energy and that resiliency and this idea of being unstoppable with the artwork."
Yeshi, who is queer, Black and of South Asian descent, says the broader message is that there is support out there for Black-owned businesses, but oftentimes they don't get the visibility.
"I think with initiatives like this in encouraging people to shop Black-owned, which is something I always try to do, I just think it's a great way for UPS to use their power to bring a spotlight to other businesses as well," she added.
With the art world being among industries hit hard by the pandemic, Yeshi says she has one piece of advice for other artists of color: "just keep going."
"Just know that you are your biggest asset. Your voice, your unique ideas, that's what's really going to set you apart. As people of color, I feel like we have a deep perspective that people can't emulate. They can try, but we just have something about us. Just really use that to your favor and don't try to compete with other artists and be like other people. Just try to tap into your voice and your power, I think that's the best thing you can do for yourself."