We were lucky to catch up with Makayla Binter recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Makayla thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. What did your parents do right and how has that impacted you in your life and career?
I grew up as an only child raised by my single mother. We lived below middle-class in Upstate New York, but somehow were able to figure everything out. Granted, I ate my fair share of Ramen noodles and dollar meals from Wegmans, but we figured it out. My mom always encouraged me to do what I loved, try new things, and no matter what, follow what I wanted. When I wanted to try a new sport, she helped me join a team and encouraged me to make friends. She entered me into whatever it was I wanted to try; dance, music school, t-ball, soccer, track, basketball. No matter what; she said she wanted me to focus on my dreams and never be afraid of trying anything new. Because at the end of the day, what was the worst that was going to happen? By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was on both travel, premier, and my school soccer team, I was taking voice lessons, in choir, taking piano lessons, running track for an AAU team in the summer and school track in the season, AAU basketball and school basketball. At 16 I got my workers permit so I could help my mom pay for all of this stuff I was doing. I felt bad because she was in the process of getting her masters degree and I felt like I needed to be doing more. But, she reassured me that the best thing I could do for her was to follow my gut (arguably my dreams) and keep being a kid exploring every option. This experience made me fearless; I am not afraid of failure, of trying new things, a challenge, or anything that may stop me from doing whatever it is I want to do. She ensured that anything I could ever want, I could go get. And now- that has made me the artist and creative I am now. I am not afraid to ask, to try, and the word “no” never stops me.
Makayla , love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I started taking art seriously when I was in college as a junior. At Davidson, if you become an art major you get an artists studio and I was excited to switch into the double major lifestyle with Biology and Studio Art as my two focuses. I graduated during the 2019 Pandemic and was genuinely lost. I wanted to go into sports medicine and become an athletic trainer for a college or professional team- but the same week I was supposed to join a program for Duke as part of their Doctorates Program, I received my first mural through the City of Charlotte and got approved to have a project I started at Davidson, the Mural Panel Project, moved to the front steps of a museum in Uptown Charlotte. My mom encouraged me and pushed me to connect with local artists during the Charlotte re-painting of the Black Lives Matter Mural and I ended up getting the letter V in the Spartanburg, SC Black Lives Matter Mural through artist Frankie Zombie. Then, I began collaborating with artists I looked up to as they sent me opportunity after opportunity, encouraging me to try new mediums like spray paint, teaching me the skills and trades I would need to be a muralist, and getting dream collaborations with BLKMRKT Charlotte and the Harvey Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture. From then until now, I have worked with the Charlotte Hornets, the Carolina Panthers, Converse, and Urban Outfitters. Ever since, I have worked with acrylic paint, but added spray paint, digital art and logo design, shoe customization, and curation of events, galleries, and facilitated networking events for local creatives. Additionally, I am a community engager and organizer that received grants to engage a predominately Black and Brown part of Charlotte in the arts. I am most proud of the way that I have connected and immersed myself in the city that I love and been able to uplift other artists and creatives that see the beauty and potential in this city we call home.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
Seeing the impact that my art has on young Black and brown girls. I am a biracial woman that did not have the same representation that I see in our creative scene now. I love the way that seeing an artist like me lights up the faces of young girls and how important having an accessible artist can be to encouraging young woman to look at themselves as able bodied entrepreneurs. It is my why and the reason that I create and continue to do community events
Have you ever had to pivot?
I was looking to do a community engaged project for a grant that I received through the Knights Foundation. The idea was to have local youth pair with a Charlotte based artists to learn the mural implementation process- from conception to design and then finalization. It was set to happen at a local recreational center, but I kept getting “no’s” or no responses at all. I was frustrated because no one was explaining why. I figured that I was lacking the vocabulary and understanding of local politics/planning or something that made me seem unqualified for this kind of project (in hindsight, I didn’t have nearly enough funding). So, I started looking for certificates, programs, or something that would help me understand. I ended up finding the Masters of Urban Design Program at UNC Charlotte and after speaking with the head of the program, saw that this aligned with everything I wanted to get out of the program. I quit my teaching fellow position at a local private school and became a full time graduate student. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made because it led me to be in the rooms I always wanted to be in and in the conversations that would lead to community informed design.
- Website: www.makaylabinter.store
- Instagram: @makaylabinter_
- Facebook: Makayla Binter
- Linkedin: Makayla Binter
- Twitter: @makay_14
@danghewild @rickysingh @maureenbinter