Artist Behind ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ Has Much More To Contribute to the Movement

At the dawn of an intersectional movement, artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh shares how she's making a statement through illustration.

Ingrained behaviors are hard to change. One quite often needs to be awakened by something visceral and bold to break the mold. And for artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, her most recognized body of work Stop Telling Women to Smile was just that.

The illustration series that began in 2012 voiced the direct thoughts of women on street harassment and catcalling. It became an international phenomenon with displays throughout the United States, Paris and Mexico City.

“I don’t know if every artist feels like they should have to make work that is about social issues, but I think that they are missing out on a great opportunity if they aren’t,” the 31-year-old explains.

“I want to be an artist whose work is of use to movements. That is of use to people who are marginalized. I want to make work for our society, to move it to be a better place.”

The Iranian-American has been keeping busy with a number of projects in the years following her major series. Her America is Black installations were posted in Oklahoma City last year, where Fazlalizadeh hails from. Fazlalizadeh was also commissioned to do a black feminist piece for Black Lives Matter’s Black Futures Month.

This year, more her work will be seen on the small-screen in Spike Lee’s television adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It. Fazlalizadeh served as the show’s artist consultant.

“I’m just trying to take advantage of having the privilege to make art for a living and to do something good with that. To do something that is meaningful to other people. “

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