Danielle James is the Fashion and Beauty Director for Hello Beautiful. When's she's not working, Danielle enjoys traveling, cooking Trinidadian food, Duke basketball and discovering the fun idiosyncrasies of NYC.
Source: Andrea Pippins / Courtesy of Andrea Pippins
Andrea Pippins is a talented, Black woman illustrator whose work has been featured in O Magazine, Essence Magazine, and more. She has worked with institutions such as Lincoln Center and the National Museum Of African American History And Culture. I first discovered Pippins’ work with the coloring book she created, “I Love My Hair,” which is beautifully designed and represents the various facets of African-American hair which will have you (or your kid!) coloring for hours. The illustrator has an uncanny ability to use her craft to elevate the mood and mindset of Black people through rethinking and celebrating our uniqueness and idiosyncratic natures be it hair, skin tone or our overall essence.
Source: Andrea Pippins / Courtesy of Andrea Pippins and Adobe
In honor of Women’s History Month, Pippins’ partnered with Adobe Stock Images to create a series of illustrations that celebrate and encourage self-love and self-care for Black women. 10 images in total, each image speaks to the dynamism of Black women and calls for us to put ourselves first and remember the queens that we are.
Pippins’ spoke exclusively with Hello Beautiful to tell us more about her work.
HB: Andrea, you created stock images celebrating self-love and self-care. The images look like their are crowns on or around the women (whether directly on their head or on their shoulder), can you explain your reasoning behind these?
The collection I created was to celebrate women for Women’s History Month. Typically when we think about Women’s History Month the focus is on power, accomplishments, fighting for rights, and speaking out. And those are all wonderful, but for this collection, I wanted to focus on something different. Like the strength in healing, beauty, peace, introspection, self-care and self-love, emotional support, intimacy, and sisterhood…especially for women of color.
The abstracted white shapes above the head represent crowns and the similar shapes around the shoulders represent wings. In my work, I am usually celebrating the figure and do so by using crowns and wings. This is to elevate the figure and also my way of capturing their light, which is what I wanted to do in this collection.
HB: Can people purchase these images or are they for free?
These images are for sale on the Adobe Stock website.
HB: Looking at the images, there are very few words, including “peace,” “joy,” and “be you.” Can you tell me why you chose these specific words?
These are all personal messages, mantras and words I live by and felt they also spoke to my goal of honoring self-care and self-love for women of color.
Which image did you create resonates the most with you and why?
It’s an image called “My Heart” where a figure looks as if she’s holding her heart. It can be interpreted in a few ways, she could be protecting her heart, honoring it, or giving it to someone. I appreciate the simplicity of the image with the possibility of multiple meanings.
HB: These images are everything – will they be available in poster or t-shirt form?
Right now I’m thinking one or two of them could be limited edition prints, but I’m not sure yet. Living in Sweden I’d have to figure out shipping which is why I have not been selling artwork since moving to Stockholm.
HB: How does living in Stockholm, Sweden effect your images and thoughts on Blackness and representation?
I’ve been living in Stockholm for about a year, and for a majority of that time I was pregnant and busy with work, so there hasn’t been much time for me to let the influence of the culture and environment seep into my work. I think that’ll take some time.
HB: You created the “I Love My Hair,” book (which I love) and focus a lot on Black women and representation. What inspired you to do this?
My focus has always been to just create what I want to see. I love pop culture, I love media, and I grew during a time, the 90’s, where I always saw people of color represented in so many different ways—in film, publications, business, etc. That showed me a range of possibilities. That feeling of affirmation I felt then is the feeling I want to create for young people today who are looking in a magazine, online, or ina gallery. I am passionate about telling visual stories that reflect the depth of our lives and experiences.
HB: Where do you feel most represented in media and society? Where do you feel the least represented?
The stories and people I most connect to are people I have found online or on social media platforms like Instagram. But honestly, I don’t really feel represented anywhere. I’m still looking for “that” platform, show, or publication that showcases women of color in the visual arts. I am excited and inspired by those stories but usually have to dig to find them. It sounds like another opportunity to create something I’d like to see.
HB: You released your latest book, ‘Young, Gifted & Black’, in February, tell us more about it.
Young Gifted and Black is a children’s book celebrating 52 icons from past and present. It was written by Jamia Wilson and illustrated by me. This book is a resource for kids to learn about and be inspired by the amazing lives of each featured icon. I think it’s a great book for parents to read and discuss with their children about overcoming obstacles, settings goals, and reaching for dreams.
HB: How did you get involved with Adobe?
I’ve been fortunate to have had an on-going relationship with Adobe after I was invited, along with a group of other artists, to work with them on a project exploring creating art on mobile devices like the iPad Pro. That was two years ago, but that connection has afforded me great opportunities like creating this collection for Adobe Stock.
HB: What advice would you give to illustrators looking for more visibility with their work?
I would say the most important thing is to keep making art and share as much as possible. Find a digital platform that works for you and use that space to show your process, your inspirations, your story, and of course the work. It’s a great way to connect with potential clients, and they get to really understand who you are as an illustrator. And teach. Share what you know, that’s a great way for people to see your work.
Beauties, you can find out more about Pippins and keep up with her projects, here.