HISTORY & HIGHLIGHTS

The Art of Trae IsAAc...Began with The Art of Self Defense…


The timeline of this particular story takes place from 1996-2006, I was between the ages of 6-16:

During my childhood years I was immersed in the Art of Self Defense through Boxing, from the age of 6 years old (yes, I was actually training at that age…the legal age to compete as an amateur is 8) through 16 years old, my grandfather (who was pretty much my Father-Figure since my birth) trained me in the Sweet Science and instilled into me the very principles (Self Preservation is the First Law of Nature, & Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances, among many more) and skills that to this day pave my path to Peace of Mind through Art & Creativity.

My unique living situation at the time consisted of myself & my mother + younger brother (he was born in 1999) living in the upper unit of a 4-family flat on Detroit's west side, right across the hall from us in the opposite unit was my Grandparents. I pretty much lived and ate from both households, it was its own unique village-like situation now that I reminisce on it. Once boxing kicked in there was this beautiful organic structure that I followed consisting of: waking up + doing morning cardio + going to school + going to the gym + doing homework + eating + sleeping…all in the same day lol. Little did I know my foundation of Discipline, Consistency, and Proper Preparation was being built to be bombproof (for that I am eternally grateful) and equipped with a Fighting Spirit.

My home-gym was Crowell Recreation Center for those years, from using their vast outdoor landscape to run miles for cardio, to making the fateful walks from the front doors straight to the back of the building where the boxing gym is situated. I won a handful of city & state championships representing that gym…my most notable win was May 23rd 1999, I was 9 years old and had won the Junior Olympics in my weight division…my baby brother was born that exact same afternoon.

Notable Gyms I trained & sparred at: Crowell (Home Gym, grew up and learned everything there from Coach Ron Johnson; my Grandfather, towards the end of my career I had a few sparring sessions with future WBC Light Middleweight Champion; Tony Harrison)…Kronk (I proved myself here, in the hot ass basement off Junction & McGraw, I even sparred future 2-time IBF Junior Middleweight Champion; Cornelius K-9 Bundrage once, RIP Coach Emanuel Steward)…and Adams Butzel (great chess-match-like sparring sessions there where I developed variations of my jab and body-shots, shoutout to Coach Dave and his crew of fighters from back then)
 

...And Then The Art Shifted...

Beginning in 2006, a 16-Year old me had lost my baby brother to cancer in May...I was frustrated and wanted to do something to speak/stand out...By this time I was many months removed from any consistent boxing training...I was attending Cass Tech (I actually attended the last year the Old Building was open), and tired of wearing generic clothing to school...and couldn’t afford to style the way I wanted to at the time...so I made myself some gear for the sake of self-gratification to pull me out of a huge funk...
Shifting to 2007 I was now fully immersed in painting clothing...at the church my grandparents and I attended (as a means to cope with the loss of my baby brother, plus our household was already fairly spiritual) I met a guy named Flaco and was developed a friendship through his already-established streetwear brand called “Gods Label” that specialized in delivering creative messages of positivity and motivation...ironically Flaco also did hand-painted clothing so there was lots that I began to learn from him in regards to the Art & Business relationship...I was also introduced to a Guru/OG of mine named Blue Vega, he was also an artist however what I learned from him were more lessons that challenged me from a spiritual-meets-psychological point of view. Experiences from this year helped me begin to "unplug from the Matrix" in a sense...
2008 was yet another heavy year because I also lost my Mother to the same cancer that took my baby brother...I had to find another way to make myself feel “worth it”, I began networking and having my own painted clothing be part of fashion shows around my hometown of Detroit. It was a fun leap of faith that would feed my fuel to create more so I could continue to heal and grow...I found myself in a whole new world that I was just beginning to scratch the surface of...I was still attached to and representing "Gods Label", continuing to create art and garments that reflected stories of triumph and breakthrough...feelings and states of being that I fought to achieve for myself...my art style/aesthetic was very raw and pop-like...
2009 seen me follow up strong in the fashion lane and people were actually starting to know who I was as an artist/fashion designer...I was selling garments locally at events and collaborating with hip-hop artists around the city of Detroit...however there was an emptiness developing...I wanted people to appreciate the “Art” and the messages behind it more than just the “shirt”...so I decided to make a change...I was attending University of Detroit Mercy taking Business Admin as a major, however my mind and focus was 110% off-campus as I was more passionate about developing my craft and presence as an Artist...I had found what I felt I was supposed to do, and I was determined to do it...crashing on friends couches and dorm rooms as I imagined the steps needed to get to the next level(s)...it was  time to get Trae IsAAc was on and poppin'...
2010 was a major shift, Flaco, myself, along with renown tattoo artist Lady L, and an amazing lyricist/poet named PJ Ford founded The Untitled Bottega; a loft located just minutes away from Belle Isle that we began to convert (Flaco, PJ, and myself also lived there too) into an Art Gallery & Tattoo Studio where we also hosted events and shows at sometimes 7-days per week (on average 4-days weekly)...and thanks to PJ and being around other poets & local poetry slams, I was inspired to perform the poetry I had written years prior...I felt like a real Artist...I made the shift to move fully away from painting clothing and being more open/free with my Art as I tried to find an identity/style...if I wanted the message to be the focus then I felt this was the way...
2011 I fully embraced the art-nomad-hippie lifestyle...my spirit and mind was beginning to branch into another realm of acceptance/understanding and growth as it regarded the losses of my brother and mother. I was definitely beyond the guy who just wanted to paint on shirts, and way beyond the kid who was winning amateur Boxing championships...But it was all still there, those lessons and trials served as my playbook to help me navigate my way...developing my presence and identity in the Art scene and further establishing myself as a true Artist...PJ Ford and I rented another studio loft in the same complex as the Bottega, so this was an entirely new place of liberation for me personally as I finally had an actual home and not a friends couch or floor to sleep on...considering my unique path to get where I was at that point, I was on cloud 9...
2012 I felt Free...just Free...I still couldn’t have picked a better way to enjoy being 22, even though I was barely able to afford food at times, struggling to pay rent and utilities and refusing to work at an hourly job (I'm fueled by a stubborn passion, but whatever)...I was surrounded by Art I created, great energy, and events literally all-day and everyday...I was having a great time manifesting Art and Experiences...between The Untitled Bottega becoming a local hub for creators of all mediums from hip-hip to fashion to fine art to many more, and my own developing momentum there was nothing in the way of me continuing to further learn and grow more into my newfound Identity...
2013 I took my skills to the next level by operating in complete fearlessness, I moved with 2 roommates a couple blocks away from Comerica Park & what is today Little Caesars Arena (I used our kitchen as my paint "studio"), among my creative deeds that year I hustled up money to take myself to Chicago & Los Angeles to do live painting at local pop-ups and events and networked while there, then came back home and actually being booked/hired for more creative work. I was starting to see what I began to do for salvation turn into something proprietary...and I told myself to keep going...The Untitled Bottega had received funding to open a much larger and dedicated gallery space on E. Baltimore in the North-End neighborhood in Detroit, and from that there were many more memories made and chapters written (plus I ended up living here for a period of time)...my Art aesthetic was taking a vibrant step in its evolution with use of bright color and loosely constructed linework that featured images and stories of glory, battle, and royalty...
2014 I tried to turn the dial up to the highest number possible at that time...full blasts of energy into the mediums of Canvas-Painting ***and*** an emphatic comeback into the world of Fashion in an attempt to rekindle my love for expressing my Art through garments, the work I was putting in and the specific Art I created this year was pivotal as I developed a few styles and elements I use still today between my Floral, Crystal, and Hand aesthetics/subjects...I hosted solo art exhibits & fashion shows (and combos of both) at The Untitled Bottega..my art style had began to mature into being a tad more refined and meticulous as I started to take more time appreciating my particular processes creating my works, I moved away from the loose/rushed aesthetic of my previous servings as I was inspired by elegant and sharp styles...this was also the first year I received any Press for my works, as I was featured in the Detroit Metro Times in an article that can be found here: Trae IsAAc - Metro Times 
2015 I’m 25 and actually NOT panicking about life lol, I had finally moved into an apartment that I lived in solely by myself...a level of freedom that I truly enjoyed and appreciated, having my own domain to come and go as I pleased with nobody to answer to and I could comfortably afford my bills lol, I picked up a gig teaching paint parties for various Paint & Sip companies (I was a featured Artist with Painting with a Twist on Fox 2 News Detroit), I was much more aware-of and comfortable with how I wanted to establish my identity and role in society...and the path was becoming more defined and clear...my life had been so far off the "typical" journey that I had to find solace in understanding that there is nobody or nothing I can or should compare myself to...I am an entirely different and unique being with my own paths, I had to come to grips with trusting myself to elevate and have faith in my works and actions...as to not be complacent and maintain a hunger for more...
2016 this year showed me the definition of “snowball effect” as the momentum I was building started to put me in unique positions and situations, I showed my Art in an actual museum for the first time ever (The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to be exact) and continued to grow and develop my creative aesthetic and style into something mature with consistent signature subjets & colors...I continued to hold on dearly to the principles that help me to manifest and maintain happiness and peace-of-mind that got me to this point...I participated in many public/group art exhibitions and began to have consistent bookings for live paint events and pop-ups...The Trae IsAAc Brand was in full swing...
2017 I became a full-blown-well-rounded Creator, in a place where I was able to create experiences and relationships that impacted few and many on positive levels...I curated art shows for myself and even began a series of exhibits hosted @ Bushnell Congregational Church (once operated by my late biological grandfather Roy Isaac, and late brother Ron Hood) where I curated group art shows for and alongside fellow artists in my hometown of Detroit...I was officially past the “starving artist” phase, and blessed to be an “eating artist” lol...I appreciated my own awareness of the business-side of art and began to put more energy into the details of Presentation & Marketing...I felt like a Champion during this phase...as I seen myself living fairly comfortably from my creative deeds...
2018 was the Boom Shaka Laka, I pushed myself to create my most elaborate and detailed works of art and succeeded at doing so highlighted by The Lord of Nostalgia Collection that featured my art aesthetic at its best ever up to that time...I flexed creative muscles that I didn't even realize were on the level they were on...I began wanting more out of my creativity and I aimed to spread into more avenues of Art that allowed for more growth and evolution...I began designing and selling enamel pins and 3D Printed goods & accessories...I realized I was becoming more of a Lifestyle Artist, someone who could manifest and create art for various applications and uses throughout your home & day-to-day life...
2019 Was On and Up, bigger projects, unique opportunities, adulthood was catching its stride (thank God...I was 29 lol), I was inspired to create as much art as possible this year in an attempt to become more recognized for my works and my unique style in my hometown that was beginning to become saturated with makers/artists of all kinds and levels of experience...it was on my spirit to separate myself from the crowd through my preparation and approach to how I presented myself and my art, so I began to manifest works that exhibited my skills to the fullest...I dropped a Collection of Paintings called The Get These Hands Collection which was literally a dedication/study on different iconic hand gestures done in my now refined signature aesthetic that now featured a style of linework that is iconic to my works today...that same collection of art ended up directly inspiring my •COOL KIDS• Pin Collection which helped me make new connections and clients in an entirely new community...plus this year I painted The She Is God Collection of portraits as I continued to have the motivation to showcase my evolved levels of skill and practice...I also operated a Facebook Group called "Trae IsAAc's Groovy Gang" that saw upwards of 1,200 members featuring a community of my art collectors and appreciators...
2020 we all sat at home coming up with ways to enjoy and encourage ourselves and loved ones in a very peculiar time...I was 30 years old and blessed to be able to get my Art into the most homes ever in my career through new creative lanes and mediums...the pandemic prompted me to pivot utilizing the multiple irons I had in the fire as it regarded how I made ends meet, I sold lots of Prints & Enamel Pins to new collectors and appreciators (mostly outside of Michigan)...the lessons and strategies I developed and learned regarding art-business were paying off (quite literally) as I saw the fruits of my labor allow my household to not just survive, but actually thrive and advance during such a tumultuous time...
2021 was one of those “Shifts in The Force” moments…coming off a surprisingly progressive and prosperous 2020 that put me in a position to pivot and make drastic adjustments to how I operated as an Artist, I was in a zone and space where I was able to efficiently and effectively create Art with an elevated aesthetic expressing my matured style of Art as well as utilizing my matured business practices to see many new opportunities for growth…I revisited the fashion realm by releasing a well-received collection of garments, getting deeper into the world of enamel pins with more original collections being sold to clients throughout the U.S. & Canada…dipping (briefly) into the world of crypto & NFT’s…being commissioned to customize garments and accessories for clients using my own signature details…plus this year saw me create quite a few large scale murals for various businesses and people in my hometown of Detroit…the momentum gained this year was thrilling and gratifying…I felt a new level of empowerment as an Artist…being able to function and grow in a society that didn’t make it necessarily easy for me to do what I do (especially how I do it)…I found even more value and appreciation in Practice & Process…as I prepared to shift to yet another gear…