With International Women’s Day this week, I wanted to celebrate all the women that I have had the honour to collaborate with, illustrate and exchange with, in the course of my professional life. The majority of my clients have been women’s organisations and women-led businesses and I have loved exploring and experiencing the world from this feminist lens.
It’s been such a joy to illustrate a diversity of interesting and inspiring women.
Some have been commissioned for professional purposes (sometimes an illustration can express so much more personality than a photograph):
Left: businesswoman, Lizzie Phillips. Right: journalist, Belinda Otas.
Some have been commissioned as branding for international forums:
Above are illustrations that formed the visual identity for the Black Feminisms Forum in 2016, an international conference tied to the 13th AWID International Forum, whose identity and event materials we also designed.
Some have been commissioned to bring life to reports and annual reviews:
Above is the cover from one of the annual reports we designed and illustrated for AWID. You can look at it online here.
Some have featured in and on books:
Above: portraits of the authors of the guide: Strategies for Building an Organisation with a Soul – Rudo Chigudu (left) and Hope Chigudu. Below them is African Women’s Development Fund CEO, Theo Sawa, who wrote the preface for the guide.
Above: the recently published book by Eunice Bagama Ball: Founding Women: African women who are defying the odds to build successful businesses in tech. You can find out more about the book here and purchase online here.
Some have been part of magazine editorials:
Above: this accompanied an article titled: “Women on the edge of time”, about what different generations of feminists can learn from one another. It featured a conversation, facilitated by Hannah Pool (also a client and collaborator, e.g. on the Fashion Cities Africa book), between then 68-year old Indian activist and author, Kamla Bhasin, and 16-year old Londoner activist, Lilinaz Evans. You can read it here.
The illustrations above are of the guest editors for the Q-zine edition: Love as Revolutionary Practice (also read an interview with the editors). These amazing women, Amina Doherty (left) and Jessica Horn, have become collaborators in various things and, more importantly, friends.
Some portraits have been commissioned by family members and friends:
Some have been created to be exhibited at festivals:
Legendary and mythical women
Some I have created for myself and made them available as prints, for others to enjoy:
Above is another depiction of artist Frida Kahlo and one of Mami Wata – a deity venerated in many African and diaspora cultures. Mami Wata is also known by several other names, including Yemoja (Yoruba) which, is what I named my depiction.
Women who have made all of this possible
Last but not least, I want to share my gratitude for these two women I have the pleasure of calling my colleagues (and friends):
Rasoah Mwilitsa – whose grace and positivity is infectious, and whose support is priceless.
Nuri Abdur-Rauf – who’s always challenging me to see different perspectives and who is the perfect creative complement.
When women come together
I have to give a big shout-out to the African Women’s Development Fund. They have been a major client for several years now and have fostered relationships with incredible women who have become collaborators and lifelong friends. The African Feminist Forum website we created together is such a wonderful resource for learning and organising. Check it out and discover some truly inspirational African women – some who are still with us and some who watch over us from beyond.
We recently designed a series of practical capacity-building handbooks. They’re targeted at small women’s organisations but, I find a lot of the information to be useful for small businesses in general.
Achieving more together
(To borrow a phrase from my friend, Gina Visram)
Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to a few other women’s organisations and women-led entities I’ve also had the pleasure to work with (and learn so much from): AdvocAid; BitPesa; Cecelia Iris; Do It Now Now; GOLDE Turmeric; Ichyulu; Lemon Drizzle; Limitless Coaching; Mama Cash; Namvula; Plant Your Future; Siku Moja; Step and Stone; The Therapy Practice; The Wardrobe Lady; Tiata Fahodzi; Toghal; Underwriting Africa; Vrai; World Cultures Connect; World of Wonderful; Your Radiant Business; Youts Rock