Who Are We?
We are family-run business, run by a husband and wife team with a passion for creating art and uncovering long hidden and under appreciated vintage and contemporary art by African Americans and of the lived Black experience globally. Adam Otoks is an artist, children’s book author (Goodnight, Moonie!), and actor, married to Isoken, who is an educator. We are parents of two beautiful, gifted and energetic boys aged 4 and 9. Although Mom and Dad run the site, their input is vital and their role in curating the site will grow over time.
How We Got Started
Black Fam Creations was started almost by accident. We happened to be looking to see if an exhibition of art was online and we found our way to the Library of Congress catalog of prints and photographs online. The site is like a vault filled with treasures from our national past. We went down the rabbit hole looking through their collections of photographs and art featuring African Americans.
What was troubling to us though was the vast array of racist artwork depicting Black people and culture that were too prevalent in our nations past. At first we thought we could discover a wealth of images of children and family life, black stories and novels but these were few and far between. The reality of the experience of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and the historical project to diminish people of African descent as a race became painfully evident. For more about this, read this wonderfully written article that captures the persistent legacy of bias and outright racism in the art world, the impact on Black artists, the field of art in general and the problematic of identifying ‘Black Art’.
Despite being sometimes overwhelmed by the too plentiful disturbing images, we would occasionally stumble across beautiful images, even in works that were intentionally racist. It became a quest of cherry picking the beauty from the pain. We also began to research scholarship on black writers and artists and black depictions in literature from the early 20th century and before (and discovered rare gems like the paintings of Henry O. Tanner, the writings of Charles W. Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and efforts to compile stories both uplifting and normalizing of everyday black life in early Americana in the collections of art and history gathered by Professor Silas Xavier Floyd and the Brownies Book, an early children’s magazine published by the NAACP.
In the process, we discovered beautiful depiction of African Americans rendered by European artists visiting America in the 1800s, such as Jean Frédéric Bazille and others. We also discovered works commissioned by the US government that are in the public domain such as for the Works Progress Administration and other art commissioned by various government agencies. We then take the images we find, sometimes scanning old out of print books ourselves to digitize art. Then, we clean it up, removing scratches and dirt, correcting rotation, enhancing color, cropping, sometimes making additions, and choose products that will highlight the inherent beauty of these priceless remnants of our past. Zazzle is our fulfillment channel and all products featured on this site can be purchased in our Zazzle store, MidnightVintage. We hope you enjoy the images and products as much as we do. Check back often as we will continue to add new art continuously. There is so much amazing work that needs to be brought back into the light of day.
We uncover rare treasures of art–paintings, illustrations and sketches of African Americans, the Black experience, history and culture from our national past. We feature vintage depictions of Black people that are imbued with dignity and beauty, turning them into gifts, keepsakes, collectibles and greeting cards.
We hope you enjoy our site and stay connected!
Adam and Isoken