Imagine creating 100 pieces of art over the next 100 days? Well, that is what nationally acclaimed Atlanta-based artist; Monica Tookes has been doing since December 1,2011 as part of her One Hundred For 100 campaign.

This campaign or ‘movement’ of creating new art collectors was forged out of an idea Tookes had to help individuals purchase an original piece of art for only $100. Here’s how it works:

Buyers will choose a number between 1 and 100. Once the number has been selected, Tookes will then create the art work. Buyers, however, will not get a chance to see their purchase until the unveiling ceremony on March 9th. Proceeds from the campaign will benefit The Frank Ski Kids Foundation and Global Lead. recently caught up with Tookes in between paintings to talk about her career and why the One Hundred For 100 campaign is so important to her.

RC: What inspired you to create the 100 For 100 Campaign?

MT: Um, basically the times. So many people would like to purchase art but can’t because of this bad economy. So, I wanted to find a way that people could still do so. And I attach a cause to it. 

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RC: So we are 81 days in to the campaign? How is it going so far?

MT:  It’s going extremely well. So far, I have sold over 60 paintings and have 40 paintings to go. People are also excited about this as well. Many of the buyers have been choosing numbers based on when they were born. So, it’s been very cool.

I even have a six year old collector. His mother is buying it for him and this will be his first original piece. It’s great that this cause is inspiring young people to become collectors.

RC: Where are you getting your daily inspiration to paint?

MT: Wow! That’s a hard question. Art just comes to me. I try to sketch based on what is around me or happening around me. But, sometimes it just hits me. At the end of the day, I am inspired by what God puts in me.

RC: You’ve worked with a number of other notable non-profits before, the American Red Cross being one of them; Why The Frank Ski Kids Foundation and Global Lead?

MT: I have been trying to do something with the Frank Ski Kids Foundation for years, like since 2001. I’m usually drawn to organizations that work with children and his foundation is one of them. I also remember reading about Frank doing a leading ladies luncheon a few years back. Each young lady received a scholarship and that meant a lot to me. I am a product of an all girls school (Spelman College) and I totally understand the power those small scholarships have in helping you reach your dreams.

Global Lead is a program that takes children oversees to impoverished areas. I was born into a military family so traveling means a lot to me. The idea of taking kids oversees and doing strong leadership programs means was brilliant to me. It’s more than just taking them to see a beautiful place. But they are able to take part in beautification projects and interact with children who have less than themselves.

RC: I noticed that you are a ‘live performance’ artist and have created works alongside musicians like Raheem DeVaughn and Janelle Monae. How does a musical performance inspire you at that time?

MT: It is absolutely magnetic! I can feel the music under my feet and running into my body, which is so inspiring.

I got an opportunity to paint while Najee performed a few years back. So I took my mother with me to the show in New Orleans. It was truly one of the most precious moments having her there to see me in my element and hear one of her favorite artists at the same time. Truly magnetic!

RC: T.I. has some of your work in his home. How cool is that?

MT: Every time I think of TIP, I think of the first conversation we had when he came into my gallery for the first time. He was working with an interior designer for his home and wanted a few of my paintings. So he came in, walked around and started picking up pieces. Then he looked at this one piece and wondered why it was so expensive.  Not trying to be disrespectful, he was just inquiring why this one was more than the others.

So, I told him that art pieces unlike cars or tires increase in value over time. And that particular piece was combination of a number of works I had created over the years. So there was a lot of love put into it. And he was like, “Wow! I have to have it.”

It’s amazing. We have become good friends since then. And it’s always great to have those types of clients.

RC: What do you consider is your greatest work to date?

MT: My greatest work is my ministry. To be able to use my art to influence others or help others is a blessing. I remember doing a show for the first child to be cured of sickle cell. His name is Keone Penn. And so I did a show to help his single mother with his operation costs. Now he is teenager and healthy. If my work inspires or helps, then I’ve done my job.

Get a sneak peek of some of the art work this Saturday, February 25 from 5pm-8pm at Bloomingdale’s in Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall. Monica Tookes will be painting along with a presentation by Jess Dance and music from DJ Salah Ananse.