A Chat with XENOBRAT
Growing up in small towns in northeastern Oklahoma and now living in the Tulsa area, multimedia artist, model, and influencer XENOBRAT has never been one to let her surroundings or medium define her.
"I dabble in just about everything, and I have been since I was a kid," XENOBRAT said. "It started with drawing on myself and led to bigger things like tattooing and getting canvases, and, you know, bigger things. I’ve always been visually inclined, especially with music, and that’s been a big part of my whole inspiration in art. But visually, that’s where I like to have the most fun because you can kind of just create your own reality or perspective of what your world looks like."
If she can imagine it, she’s tempted to try it.
"That’s kind of what I like to do," XENOBRAT said. "Just bring whatever ideas I have in my mind and put them out there visually in any way, in any format I can, basically." Like many Gen-Z and Millennial creatives and artists, she credits Tumblr with being her introduction to a world outside of Green Country.
"I’ve always had a very outside perspective, and a lot of that is because of my early influences. Being a Tumblr kid on the internet, interacting with people and content from all over the world had a profound effect on me," XENOBRAT tells ASLUT.
"I was already so influenced by what people were doing outside of here that I didn’t really care much about what people thought," she says. Seeing others on the Internet live out loud inspired her to do the same here in Oklahoma.
Initially, style became her primary creative outlet.
"Mostly, I expressed myself through style and the music I listen to, which got me into the whole emo scene, and goth music," she said. "I would just express that through my makeup and how I would dress myself, and it pretty much went from there."
The internet continued to be an inspiration from the outside world.
"I would definitely say that the internet has had a big influence on everything I know since I was a kid," XENOBRAT said. "That's how I really came to find my true identity and what I liked and wanted to put in the world."
The move to Tulsa with her mom gave her a new offline perspective on her art and the pursuit of it as a career.
"Coming to Tulsa and seeing people actually creating art, making events happen, and supporting people—that was a new world for me, and I was like, "Yeah, maybe I can do this," XENOBRAT said. "That’s something I’m still learning now, like coming off the internet and seeing what that has had success for me and seeing what's actually here in front of me and seeing how I can be more connected to that."
Like the Tumblr pages of her early years, XENOBRAT is immersing herself in the Tulsa art scene and the opportunities it offers. She has recently been featured as an artist in local events such as the Come Party With The Homies Art Show and Sharpside Sundays.
"It’s definitely a whole exchange of inspiration and appreciation, which I really love," XENOBRAT said. "It’s nice that we have this tight community of people supporting us, especially with just a few people who have the foundation to make these events happen. Then having these artists actually be supported for their work and having a place to sell their work—that’s the biggest thing. "It's only getting better that we are being recognized as real workers and artists all together."
During the Tulsa Fair, she expressed herself with a self-styled latex clown outfit for the ASLUT photoshoot.
"I don’t know what happens, but once you tap into who you want to be, you just become that person," XENOBRAT said. "That’s how I felt when I was there, and like, when I got my mask and my makeup all done and all that, I just became that person, and I got a few stares and a few weird looks, and also lots of compliments, surprisingly."
Among the lights and food and traditional fair fun, she popped.
"I just didn’t care," XENOBRAT said. "I was like, ’I’m here to do something, and we’re going to get it done.’ I literally didn’t care what was happening around me. It kind of felt like we were the only ones there."
Clowns are a thing for XENOBRAT.
"I just really love how they get people riled up in so many different ways," XENOBRAT said. "People either really hate them or really love them, and I'm somewhere in the middle, but I prefer to love them."
Whether fairgoers realized it in between bites of fried Oreos and jumbo turkey legs, she was making a statement as ASLUT photographer Jaden Da Rosa's camera flashed.
"But the expression of that kind of goes into how I feel as a person sometimes and like dealing with mental health issues and stuff sometimes, like it’s kind of like we are clowns, in a sense," she said. "Even with my work, even if I’m in a bad mood, it's like putting that paint on and making yourself be that person. "I like to portray a lot of those kinds of things, like psychological things, in my art, so a lot of it is dark."
While there is an established familiarity for XENOBRAT with latex in her photo sets, the mask during the fair was a form of liberation she is still just starting to experiment with. "So when I was wearing the mask for sure, its that feeling of being anonymous that you can just be whoever you want, ya know, nobody will know," XENOBRAT said.
She’s inspired by chance to be the real world link to someone else’s potential pursuit of art that Tumblr was for her.
"I love that during that shoot especially, you can tell a lot of these people have never seen anything like that and are just like seeing someone so comfortable and confident to do something like that," XENOBRAT said. "Cause we don’t even have a big scene of like the influencers going out to make content in front of people so seeing this kind of stuff is new and rare. I love for people to have that first experience to maybe open up their minds to wanting to create art or be themselves more."
That becomes motivation to push through the doubt.
"I’m trying to break that barrier myself, to not be so afraid of putting myself and my work out there," XENOBRAT said. "Because, hey, it deserves to be seen. "I just want to spread the positivity and drive that anyone can create and make something out of it."
As XENOBRAT is still becoming the artist she wants to be, there is one aspect she knows for certain.
"The trope of the starving artist doesn’t have to be, like, you don’t have to suffer financial hardship and be near eviction every month just to be an artist," XENOBRAT said. "As important as it is to have a space to create, it’s important to still be able to live a life while you create. That is something I really want to contribute to changing. "We aren’t doing the struggling artist thing any more."
With the internet being an original form of escape for XENOBRAT, she is now leveraging it as a tool for financial freedom as she pursues her artistic passion.
"I love that I can tap into any niche that you want to," XENOBRAT said. "You can find your own and find people who love it. Relying only on people locally kind of puts you in a closet because there are only so many people you can reach out to or who are throwing events and stuff. "So having the internet and being able to keep track of your crowd and audience is really cool and helps you branch out."
But while she pursues art, she still has other income sources as a backup.
"With that, it does take a little pressure off going into selling the art," XENOBRAT said. "I feel like everyone should have a backup just in case because it can be a long journey."
Few things are scarier for an artist than not being able to pursue their calling.
Visit her website, beacons.ai/xenobrat, for commissions and all things XENOBRAT.