Tenbeete Solomon AKA Trap Bob is a DMV based artist known for her unique style and vibrant presence. Trap Bob and I sat down to discuss her passion for creating, love of Gucci Mane, and involvement within the Washington, DC art scene.
Let’s hear a little bit about you. Do you always go by Trap Bob?
Trap Bob is a nickname my real name is Tenbeete Solomon. I actually have always hated nicknames until I got the name Trap Bob. I was born in Los Angeles, CA but I later moved to Columbia, Maryland. For school I attended University of Maryland College Park and I do a lot of work in DC now with my artwork.
Tell me about when you started getting into the art movement was it after college or was it a part of your childhood?
I was raised in an artistic household. It was encouraged ever since I was a baby. My father was an artist his entire life he started in Ethiopia and then came here to the United States. He always instilled creativity in me and soon it came naturally. I never thought I could take it seriously when I was younger. But right now it’s getting easier to get into the creative field.
Even though art has always been part of my life, when I got to college I decided to study business. I knew that I could be disciplined but it was hard to focus on something I didn’t care about. So, junior year I had a freak out and I asked myself if this is something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This was when I started drawing again I thought it could help me decompress and chill out. I wasn’t thinking about art in a serious way even then but it was something to help me get my mind off of school. I was fortunate to take a couple classes and I realized this was something I couldn’t let go of and that I’ve never felt this passionate about anything. I want to do this for the rest of my life and I didn’t care about the money.
I love the name Trap Bob! Please tell me the story behind it.
So like I told you I hated nicknames because everyone wanted to cheat and not say my real name and I love my name. A friend of mine in high school gave me the name Bob. That’s where “Bob” came from. As for “Trap,” I’m a huge fan of Gucci Mane. I love his mix tapes Trap God like I love everything about Gucci Mane. Keeping the name Trap God in mind, that’s where I got the idea of Trap Bob. I had always used some variation of the name Bob in my Twitter and Instagram names. When I decided to use Trap Bob it felt right and it was right around the time I started to really pursue my artwork.
Tell me about what you’re involved with in DC, I recently ran into you at the National Museum for Women Arts and I see that you’re very active in the creative community.
I been doing a lot of shows recently in DC some of them are just for individual organizations that have had their own events. I was able to participate with Brightest Young Things for the museum event. I’ve also worked with A Creative DC. I’m always willing to show my art and bring products to sell and get my name out there.
Going by the name Trap Bob and being inspired by Gucci Mane is it difficult to be a femme identified or woman artist?
I think there is definitely a supportive space for women artists in DC. We saw this at the National Museum for Women Arts event with Brightest Young Things. In that respect I wouldn’t say that there isn’t enough space. At the same time, it’s difficult to get the respect that male artist get, especially in the street scene. I see a lot of events that focus on one gender and I don’t think that we need to keep it separate. I think that having an integration of genders especially within the street scene is important for people who are just getting started.
Tell me about your latest projects and newest products
I incorporate hands into my artwork because it something that everyone can relate to, everyone has hands or is at least familiar with hands. We use hands to communicate how we feel through gestures. When I was starting out I was trying to figure out what my aesthetic was going to be and I’ve been able to incorporate hands into every concept I create. Most of the hands I draw have nails but that’s because I base a lot of my artwork off of how I see the world.
I also have products like the Trapline Bling hats. It’s a play off of Hotline Bling by Drake, a song that I’m tired of hearing. I like to do remakes and I like to take things from pop culture, memes, social media, and put my spin on it. I get tired of seeing or hearing the same thing over and over again. I kept hearing Hotline Bling and I asked myself, what can I do to make this unique? The lightning bolts pay homage to Gucci Mane but they also symbolize constant communication meaning people are always getting in touch with you and things are constantly happening.