I didn’t grow up in Oakland, but The Town was always close by, molding my character, sparking my dreams, and pulling me home.
I was raised in Hayward and Fremont, just beyond The Town’s official boundaries. If you’re from here, you know that Oakland’s energy radiates beyond lines drawn on a map. The attitude, the lingo, the personality. East Bay communities imbibe both Oakland’s complexities and charms.
Growing up, decisive milestones often happened in Oakland. It’s where I attended proms and took my SATs. My high school graduation was at the Paramount Theater.
At sixteen, as a newly licensed driver, my first solo drive was to Oakland. I was simultaneously awed by Lake Merritt’s beauty and terrified to discover that I was driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
The seeds of my art were planted in Oakland. It’s where I was first exposed to graffiti. I was fascinated by the distressed paint on the brick walls along the stretch of 880 and on rusted metal trains. Inspired by graffiti legends Vogue, and Mike Dream, a Filipino-American artist I could look up to, I gazed at the city’s empty walls and dreamed of covering them in color.
My first art show was in Oakland, in a dimly lit corner in the back of the World Ground Cafe when I was eighteen years old. Oakland introduced me to a community of creatives who inspired and motivated me to pursue my passion.
After high school, I left to attend UCLA. In L.A. I realized that growing up in the Bay made me different. I thought everyone listened to the same Bay Area rap I grew up with. I became hyper-aware of how much I said “hella,” and noticed my attitudes were particular to Bay girls.
In my third year of college, Oakland’s Hyphy Movement exploded onto the national scene and blew up my hometown pride. I was going to frat parties gigging, just all-around acting a fool. I became an ardent Bay Area ambassador. I would notice someone else going hyphy across the room and make them an instant friend.
I returned to Oakland a decade later, after reconnecting with my high school sweetheart to be near him and my family. I was surprised to see how much things had changed but Oakland’s creative pulse and familiar energy drew me right back in.
My sweetheart and I bought our first home and settled down. We could see The Town skyline and the old Lucasey Factory building from our windows.
I was commissioned to paint the entire exterior of a five-story building. I climbed to its top, stood on the scaffolding, and basked in the enveloping glow of the sunset blanketing my neighborhood below.
From my platform in the sky, Oakland wasn’t troubled, gentrified, overpriced, complicated, or messy. It was only vast, immutable, diverse, resilient, creative, and drenched in sunshine. I knew I was where I belonged. Oakland was home.
Allison “Hueman” Torneros is an Oakland-based graffiti artist, painter and illustrator. Her ‘nom de spray’ plays on the idea of color hues and the idea of non-gender-specific humanity. Also, her art literally makes her feel more human. Allison started painting during a dark period of her life and doing so made her feel alive again.
Despite the gender fluidity of her artistic moniker, Hueman is a female artist who has achieved rare renown in the typically a male-dominated street art community. A petite woman spray painting vibrant art on some of California’s most iconic buildings is undeniably badass, and Hueman’s renown has made street art much less of a boys' club.
These days, she balances her time between gallery exhibitions and public mural work while also collaborating with some of America’s top brands (plus, being a mom). Her unique blend of mural and gallery skills are becoming increasingly appreciated by an expanding global audience.
Hueman did the cover artwork for Pink’s 2019 record, Hurts 2B Human, designed a Nike running shoe for the U.S Olympic team, and participated in a fashion collaboration with Forever 21. She was also featured on an episode of Pawn Stars and has done work for Disney, Lyft, Google, Adobe, Usher, Swizz Beats, Sony Music, CNN, and Microsoft. Her iconic outdoor murals decorate the urban landscapes in Oakland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Long Beach. One of her best-known works is a panorama in the Los Angeles Arts District commemorating community advocate Joel Bloom.
Her work is flat-out gorgeous. Her mashups of figurative forms and colorful abstractions have an ethereal quality that merge beautiful chaos with harmony and wonder. She most often begins a piece by randomly and energetically throwing paint on the canvas and only then teases out images.
Oaklandish is beyond excited to bring you the Hueman x Oaklandish collection. This collection of tees reflect Hueman's signature style, with subtle nods to Oakland.
Shop the collection: Hueman X Oaklandish Collection
Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. 'We Are Oaklandish' is a storytelling project created to highlight just that.
These are stories that shed light on the different experiences, memories, and opinions of the people in the city we all love. They are people who give our city its oddball spirit, its passion for justice, and its creative vigor. They lift us up with laughter, peace, nourishment, and authentic hard work.
They make us proud to call this town our home. They are Oaklandish.
Read more: We Are Oaklandish
Models @mikalaleean @yessirmichael, styled by @sharp_with_objects. Shot by @54ghosts with assistance from @imanbenet.