Richmond, Virginia’s Tequitia Andrews is a key contributor to Cricket Wireless’ Smile Makers campaign, which celebrates Black History Month by highlighting influencers, community leaders, hometown heroes and Black institutions that serve to better people’s lives and make them smile.

Andrews first discovered her creative talent as a young girl, when she came in third place in a science fair for her drawing of an octopus. She soon became the go-to person among her family and friends when they needed something drawn.

However, in 1992, when she entered Virginia State University, Andrews decided not to pursue art, opting instead to study Human Services—a more practical career path.

“It wasn’t until around 2004-2005 that I started to nurture that artistic side again. I was going through postpartum depression and didn’t want to go on medication. I started researching different ways to combat depression and one of the things I read talked about being reconnected with things that you love. I knew that art was something that I enjoyed doing.”

Excited to dust off her artistic skills, Andrews turned to resources available in the library and online, including watching videos on YouTube. She eventually was introduced to the digital world, and platforms like Skillshare, where she grew her skillset as a digital illustrator.

“Art was very therapeutic for me because a lot of my artwork features Black women and I felt like I was speaking to myself through my art,” said Andrews. “When I was doing acrylics, I liked to put positive affirmations or empowering phrases in my artwork, which I still do now.”

Andrews describes her artistic style as one that incorporates a lot of flat textures and bold colors. She continues to try to push herself artistically by experimenting with different color pallets and textures. “The messages I normally try to convey through my art are confidence, elegance and beauty.”

Cricket Wireless selected Andrews to create illustrations for its Smile Makers campaign because they were intrigued by her artwork, which is predominately featured on her Instagram page.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of Cricket’s campaign, and I really hope that it reflects the diversity of the Black community and how we empower each other through our stories” said Andrews.