Meet Kyshmah “Keke” McNeill of Lowkey Dope
I started off in the art world as a “late bloomer”. Art did not come into my life until the age of 15. I saw a picture of tweety bird and drew it based on memory. It was not too bad but that’s where i gained my interest in art. My first art class was my senior year of high school in 2012 and from there I knew I was gifted. I was more interested in how to put art on the computers versus drawing on paper and I knew graphic design was my passion. I attended Middle Tennessee State University for ONE semester and it taught me more of how to draw on paper with charcoal and multiple gradients. I had to learn the basics before I could even touch a computer and that was ultimately frustrating because I wanted to immediately get into graphic design.
However, that broaden my horizons to want to try EVERYTHING!! Soon after, I attended Columbus State University where I changed my major from graphic design to fine arts so that i could learn everything. Freshman year was incredibly tough because the teaching was different, it was more vigorous, and the professors did not take it lightly on anyone. I dabbled in graphic design, ceramics, painting, film and back full circle. I also attended YouTube University as I called it; if i could not figure it out from my professors I went to YouTube and figured it out.
My junior year of college I entered into a Juried Exhibition with one of my films. The film included a voicemail of my mother fussing but it showed pictures of my entire family and me walking on the sides. I remember one of my professors constantly asking me was I coming to the ceremony because I did not have any intentions on doing so. I arrived and the judge called my name for the Best of Show. I cried in my professors arms because that was the first art award I’ve ever won. That’s how I knew I was meant for art.
Furthermore, the years progressively became easier and I stuck with graphic design, film and painting. I graduated with my fine arts degree in 2017. Now, I create logos, paintings, I paint on clothing, shoes, I even make mini films. Also I stepped out on faith with Gods help and now I have my own company! I worked hard since I was a teen and now it’s finally paying off.
The road to where I am now HAS NEVER been smooth. Some of the struggles I faced was being discriminated against, I was not understanding sometimes what our professors were looking for even though I was giving exactly what was required. I ultimately shut down because I was stressed, mentally and emotionally.
Critiques were going horrible for me because either I was not trying hard enough or I over did the expectations. I did not find a balance to make everything easier until I turned 24. Even now as I am 26, it’s hard because I tend to doubt myself when I should not. Battles come and go everyday for me, but I have learned to overcome all of them. Can not drown in my sorrows and failures because if you do not fail you will never know how it feels to succeed.
My company Lowkey Dope derives from everyone saying I stay to myself, I’m a lowkey person. Key is one of my nicknames and Dope is generally how people describe me when I first meet them. And that’s how the name Lowkey Dope came to be.
My company specializes in art far as logos, painting, photography, you name it. I am also incorporating clothing, by putting my artwork on the clothing and funny sayings. Instead of it being a clothing line I call it my art line. I am most proud of that I actually started the company. I doubted myself so much until I spoke to God, and put it in his hands. Once I saw the signs that I should start it I went for it.
What sets me apart is my originality, my innovations and my warm spirit. I like to communicate to make sure the clients gets exactly what they want.
I define success by once I become successful, everyone does. Your friends, family, significant others share that success with you because I did not, you did not do it on your own. Failures count as your success as well because every time you fail you can always go back and make it better.
I do this for my people, my family, my friends. Everyone who looks up to me. Coming from the south side, success is what drives us and when I’m successful everyone is successful.
The criteria/markers I have for success is when I see people happy and creating conversation about what I produced to them. It’s not about the money because money will come. It’s about the happiness and the feeling the client will get when you receive an original from me. Because happiness and peace is everything to me.