Jade’s Calling Card: The Art of Spades

By: Kelton Brooks

Harmonic jazz instrumentals ricochet from canvas to canvas. Jade Cole positions a natural, full-spectrum light above an Andre 3000 picture she has been gazing at in her studio for hours. Cole is looking for the right brush since she knows she will paint with her first love.  

“I use color pastels and oil pastels,” Cole said. “But charcoal? That’s my baby right there. That’s the first thing I go to.” 

The details of the charcoal-drawn image of the “Roses” and “Ms. Jackson” rapper rivals a freshly printed polaroid–the faint shadow strands on his eyebrows, the creases in his lips and the piercing looks in his eyes. 

 

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A post shared by Queen Cole ♤ (@jcole_)

Cole, the 28-year-old artist from Memphis, Tennessee, pinpoints her Andre 3000 drawing as a milestone in her journey as an artist and Black business owner.  

“Every time I post that picture, I get a lot of shares and views,” Cole said. “That picture is a stamp of my evolution in doing art, in doing portraits. I can tell that’s the picture that changed me from the beginning to where I am now. It’s a checkpoint.”

Cole has been putting pencil to paper and colors to a canvas since she was four years old.   

However, it was the art of tattooing that led her to sharpen her skills. Once she learned how the process worked, she became more intrigued. She began vigorously researching how to become a tattoo artist while at Whitehaven High School.  

Cole said understanding how to draw doesn’t necessarily mean putting a needle to the skin will come effortlessly. 

 

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A post shared by Queen Cole ♤ (@jcole_)

After graduating high school, she attended Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, explaining how classes and the university shaped her vision for art. She said her last assignment was constructing small pieces of paper together to form a portrait. It was a light bulb moment for her illuminating mind.  

“Once I got there, my whole vision changed and how my brain was processing putting faces together on the canvas,” she said. “It’s like they taught me how to see. I was like, you know what, I think I’m going to be a portrait artist.”  

Cole was ready to paint the town red after college. Her studio was her sanctuary. Cole was free to express herself harmoniously and painted religiously.  

She started drawing portraits for free. She drew with strokes of inspiration until money began to line up like a constellation.

Related: Black Creators Get Copyright Protection for Work, Choreography 

The more she posted her artwork, the more people were asking how much she charge. She put a price on her portraits and everything changed with a stroke of a brush.  

Since 2014, Cole has been the owner of Art of Spades.   

Her original Andre 3000 piece is priced at $1,233. Still, she has sold other high-valued original compositions, such as her painting of the late Kobe Bryant for $650, her Chadwick Boseman piece for $330 and her “Joker” drawing for $733. 

 

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A post shared by Queen Cole ♤ (@jcole_)

“I get inspired by my last piece,” Cole said. “I see what I did on this. Then I know on the next one, I can make it even smoother.”  

Cole said her Joker portrait took over 30 hours to complete when adding all the materials she used to bring the painting to life.  

 

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A post shared by Queen Cole ♤ (@jcole_)

She had her perfect setting drawing the portrait, which was natural light and reverberating melodies, but she thinks about one of her favorite musical artists, J. Cole, when she enters her zone.  

She doesn’t have a favorite song by J. Cole, but loves his famous verse on the song “Looking For Trouble.”

Cole, in his opening bars on the song, says: “Hey, Cole World, make way for the chosen one.” 

Every time Jade steps into her studio, she illustrates the same confidence as the North Carolina-born rapper.  

“I feel like I’m the G.O.A.T. and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” she said with a grin. “I want people to know it’s a genuine love for what I do. Just watch me, literally. I do feel like I’m the G.O.A.T.” 

Related: Artist Behind Bamboo Tokyo 2020 Design Talks Influence of Black Women 

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