DHS talented artist cultivates cafeteria walls with black heroes

For 19-year-old, 12th grade artist, Tamerick Zachary, art is not only a form of expression, it's also his favorite pastime and an additional means of income. And it's been a coping mechanism through general boredom and even grief.

"When I get bored, I draw," Zachary said. "It relieves the stress and everything I go through - when I draw, I feel better - I just put it all to the paper."

It was older brother and talented artist, D'andre Lee, who helped Zachary find his gift. After years of working in art himself, Zachary said Lee told him that he had passed him up as the artist in the family. But it wasn't until the summer of 2014, when tragedy struck, that Zachary's art would make a larger impact.

When friend, Brandon Augusta was murdered, Zachary said he felt immediately inspired to immortalize the deceased teen in a sketch.

"I drew Brandon that night so I could bring it to school and get everybody to sign it," Zachary said.

From there, he became known as Donaldsonville High School's resident artist. It is at DHS where Zachary has painted murals commemorating heroes in black history - up until this point, all men.

But after the success of his cafeteria mural featuring Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama and Bob Marley, Zachary said the women faculty asked when he would do a mural in honor of black women's history.

Once approved for another cafeteria display, he began the sketches on key figures such as Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama and one other woman, he has yet to decide who.

Drawing people - faces especially - is Zachary's specialty. Yet while he's known as a mural painter at school, he said he really hates painting. His favorite medium is pencil, sometimes lead or charcoal.

"Art supplies are expensive," he joked. "Just give me a pencil."

Thanks to his specialty, Zachary, while in 11th grade, started his own business - Blown Talent. It is through Blown Talent that he was commissioned by rap star, Lil' Boosie to draw a portrait. The drawing, which very much resembles Lil' Boosie, is almost complete, but Zachary said he is finding a challenge in sketching the rapper's fur coat. Otherwise, he believes that the rapper's portrait may be his big break.

"It's going to be a big thing," Zachary said. "I wish I could do more than one piece at a time because the projects might get overwhelming once the word gets out."

It takes Zachary between two to four hours top complete a portrait.

"I see the growth every time I draw."

Zachary said that all of the portraits he works on are from photos, but that he does make some changes.

"Sometimes the person might need a haircut, so I give them a little line, a fade, you know," he joked. "If a feature looks kind of weird, I'll fix it up."

Some of the portraits have sold for up to $300, but the short-term money hasn't affected Zachary's long term goals of hoping to continue following his brother's footsteps and going to college to study art. He would like to attend Ringling College of Art and Design - a private four-year accredited college in Sarasota, Fla. Other schooling options include the Art Institute in Texas or Atlanta, ULL and Louisiana Tech.

"Studying art is what I want to do - I would not be happy doing anything else," he said. "I know I am forced to do things I don't want to do in high school, but for college, I have a choice.

I just want to draw so I can get better - I want to live as an artist."

Zachary loves to draw, but said he would also be content living his art through tattooing or photography, as long as he gets to create, he said.