We talk to the illustrator whose philosophy
is unapologetically brilliant & black
Honest representations of black women is at the heart of Dorcas Magbadelo’s work. The supremely talented 28-year-old British-Nigerian’s illustrations adorn badges, pins, greeting cards and posters – and they say #BlackGirlMagic in countless ways. It was after a trip to MOMA in New York to see a Matisse exhibit that Dorcas put drawing back on her life map. Working from her bedroom, she started DorcasCreates in 2015 and got her first online sale via Etsy. Now she’s teaming up with other black owned businesses and finding herself on BuzzFeed…
Hi Dorcas! Your work speaks so well to black women, why was this important to you?
Growing up, I struggled as to how I identified with my blackness. Being called “bounty” because I listened to certain music, or had friends who were non-black, was challenging and hurtful but I knew I shouldn’t let it affect my own sense of worth. It taught me to recognise that our individuality is what makes us unique and once I figured that out, I felt it was important to reflect it in my work. I want my work to be full of positivity and celebrate ALL black girls!
What or who inspired you?
All the black women I see. I find myself staring at people, memorising facial features, hairstyles, skintones etc. I also love the photography of Malick Sidibé; from his contrasting patterns and how he portrayed Malian social functions.
Tell us about your highs and lows
It was difficult in the beginning because I was still trying to find my style. I was following so many other creative people on social media, I think I lost myself by comparing my work. I also needed to figure out if I wanted to be more commercial or focus on fine art. Once I decided to just carve my own path, I struck the right the balance. I’ve loved meeting and collaborating with other creatives like Better Shared, The:nublk, Black Blossoms and Diversity Matters.
Best moment so far?
Being featured on BuzzFeed UK and in Essence magazine was just amazing. But what I love is going to events, or selling at markets and hearing people say: “oh that drawing looks like my daughter” and seeing the joy on their faces at seeing themselves or people close to them represented.
What are your career goals?
To build DorcasCreates into a sustainable business that has a positive social impact. I’d love to see my products on the high street. I want to engage with people and I’d like to offer workshops and internships for young black creatives (once I’ve got my confidence and public speaking skills up!)
“But what I love is going to events, or selling at markets and
hearing people say: “oh that drawing looks like my daughter”
Any advice for those looking to pursue a creative career pathway?
Be gentle to yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy; and it’s important to remember that there really is space for every voice to be heard. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice; it can be quite lonely and isolating feeling like you’re the “token” but there’s an incredible community of black British creatives in the UK.
You’re active on social media – has it been useful in connecting with customers and other black-owned brands?
I’m quite active on Instagram, I try to post a few times a week, or at least comment and engage. I’m quite an introverted person, so I buffer that by reaching out on social media. It’s been beneficial to me, not just as a business owner but also for discovering other black British brands.
What’s next for you in 2017?
I’ll be doing my first exhibition with Black Blossoms and a charity initiative with Rachael Nanyonjo of Kansaze Dance Theatre. It would be amazing to get my products in a large retailer. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my legacy. I want to have a positive impact. Having worked in schools, I’d love to work more with young girls; young black girls in particular, and just show them that there’s more than one route to achieve what you want.
● In my make-up bag… Soap & Glory Vitamin C Facial Wash, Flow Facial Oil by Afro Hair and Skin Co, Liquid Eyeliner by Collection2000, Extreme Volume Mascara by Essence.
● Currently reading The Seed to Harvest series by Octavia Butler.
● Fave Netflix show American Crime, Black Mirror, Stranger Things, Jessica Jones.
● On my playlist King, Blood Orange, Chance the Rapper, Daft Punk, JMSN, Phoenix & TV on the Radio.
● Essential haircare Afro-pick, Shea Moisture JBCO Leave in, a millions of bobby pins!