If you’re looking to rep social issues, show off your black girl magic or get a chuckle from a meme with your graduation cap art, Grad Kap Magic can give you exactly what you’re looking for.

Graduate student Taylor Simien is a creator. She is also a part-time intern with iCare and a shift manager at McDonald’s. When Simien graduated from the University, she decorated her own cap, and it went viral.

Simien then decided in 2016 to start her company Grad Kap Magic and now decorates caps for graduates across the country.

Simien said it can be stressful and challenging to keep up with her four classes, part-time internship and work. Grad Kap Magic provides her a break from this and allows her to express her artistic ability. For Simien, art is not unlike therapy.

“It’s something that I can do that isn’t mandatory,” Simien said. “I don’t have to do it. I do it because I love it, and when I paint it’s me by myself, nothing on, no TV, no music, it’s just me submersed in my own thoughts and expressing myself in the best way that I can.” 

Simien started off painting directly on caps, but because she gets orders from all over the country, she now uses cap toppers to simplify the process.

Simien said her favorite part of the process of creating caps is showing the commissioner the finished product. They give her their vision, she shows them what to expect in a black and white sketch and then the cap is painted.

“I’ve yet to have someone who is unsatisfied with their caps, whether that would be they just didn’t want to tell me or I’m just doing a good job,” Simien said. “I think that’s why it’s my favorite part — because they can finally see their vision right in front of their eyes.”

Simien said she considers herself to be more of a creator than an artist, and has always been creative in many different avenues. Last semester, she created staffs for Alpha Kappa Alpha, and has participated in things like paint parties.

“I have not had formal art training — I’ve never taken an art class or any of that,” Simien said. “It just kind of came naturally and I picked up different things, painting being the one that I go to the most, but I’m trying to dabble in different things and I would definitely love to take formal art classes in the future if time permits.”

Simien’s life was chaotic when she made her first cap, she said. Her mother was laid off at the time and she was working at LSU Dining to help out with money. She said graduation seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel.

Simien said being the first grandchild to graduate from both her mom’s and dad’s sides of the family was important to her.

“Just to be a black woman in today’s times — I feel like black women have it the worst, and being able to go to college, graduate from college — it’s a really big deal,” Simien said. 

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