Teen finds audience with BLM art

Scripps Ranch artist April Phillips. (photo by Panita Phillips)

Teen finds audience with BLM art

A Scripps Ranch teenager and artist has found an unexpected audience for her latest, socially driven work after her first hand-painted Black Lives Matter signs were mysteriously removed from where they were posted in her own home’s yard.

April Phillips, a 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student going into 11th grade, has painted watercolors as a hobby for some time. But recent social upheaval motivated her to use her art to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“From the start, I’ve never been super proactive going out to protest or anything,” Phillips said. “But then, as I got exposed to all this new information, like America’s much worse than I thought, then I felt the need to do something a little more than just be quiet.”

So, back in May, she brought out a canvas, frame and acrylic paints and designed an artful sign centered around the words “BlackLives Matter,” and posted it on a fence at her family’s Scripps Ranch home.

“Then we left to go on a road trip for five days, and when we came back, it was neatly screwed out, like it didn’t (ever) exist,” Phillips said.

She noted that it was neatly unscrewed, not just pulled down. No note was left behind; the sign was just gone. Unfortunately, the family didn’t have any security cameras that captured footage of what happened to it.

“At first, I was really devastated because in this neighborhood we’ve never had any problems,” Phillips said. “We’ve been here for like seven years, and there’s never been a problem like this around our house.”

Phillips’ mother didn’t take a picture of that first poster, so she posted a message to the Scripps Ranch Diversity and Inclusion and the Scripps Ranch Information Exchange Facebook groups asking if anyone had photos of the poster or any idea what happened to it.

“From that, we received a lot of kind words of encouragement and stuff,” Phillips said. “Then I decided, OK, I’ll make a new poster.”

Then people started asking if they could commission the artist to make signs for them.

“I provide a few sketches for them to choose from,” she said. “Then, if they want to make adjustments, they can. Once they agree that the sketch is OK, I go ahead and paint it.”

Phillips said she is donating 50 percent of the money she makes to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The rest of the money goes to canvas, acrylic paint and other supplies needed to make the posters.

So far, she has completed one commissioned sign and still has more to do.

“I’ll keep going as long as there are commissions,” Phillips said. “I’ll keep donating and getting more experience as an artist.”

Anyone interested in having a sign made can email Phillips at

One of the pieces by artist April Phillips (photo by Panita Phillips)
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