My name is Naomi but online I go by @Mouiispace. I’m an illustrator & visual designer in the Seattle area. I create story-based illustrations for both commercial and personal use cases. I love illustrating people, especially representing people of color in a way I wish I saw as a child. I enjoy playing around with lighting and texture in my work.
I had several ideas for this piece. My first approach was a more realistic scene, but it didn’t feel full of whimsy, and I wanted to bring that in as my prompt was #blackgirlmagic. I create a lot of fun magical-themed art when I doodle and so it felt fitting to include that in. I sketched out some poses and ultimately landed on this one because I was to show most of the body but still have a strong focus on the face.
Showing the body allowed me to play around with the clothing I used. I wanted it to be a mix of western styled clothes with some African influences. I landed on a subtle pattern on the waist band and the tucked style of the skirt to feel more traditional and from that heritage line. I searched for a while to find just the right pattern.
I wanted her hair to be able to float and dance around a bit but (at least for me) my hair don’t do that unless it’s in a protective style. I opted out of braids though and went for a more dreadlock style as it is a traditionally black hairstyle but also allowed me to bring in plenty of texture and add some floating to the piece.
I wanted to add a motif to the background that would not take away from anything visually but would still have meaning. For that I went to look for different flower languages. I found that ferns have the meaning for magic and secrecy so I chose that as the background element for this piece. It allowed me to also bring in the assigned color more to create a more visual interesting background.
Being creative for me is like self-care, if I don’t do it I feel awful. So in someway I’m self-serving by being creative, but I also love when someone sees my art and is happy or feels seen because it’s relatable for them. I want people to have that type of happiness when they see what I create.
In the design world I haven’t seen it affect me harshly but in design school it was rough. I went to school because I wanted to be an illustrator but was pushed into design. That was what it was but when it came to the teachers I had some professors that would straight up just ignore me, I wouldn’t get critique, I wouldn’t get help, not even talking to me. It didn’t matter how much more I did they wouldn’t even do their job to teach me. I was told my dream wouldn’t happen and I was wasting my time, being an illustrator wasn’t something I could do. It was hard to understand it felt like being a middle schooler all over again. Since then I’ve only accepted and interviewed at places that I knew wanted me and my talent. I won’t put up with that anymore.
Often times Black people in design and especially designers in tech centered companies don’t get mentorship. We don’t see people like us and people who aren’t don’t go out of their way to mentor. So people in leadership mentoring Black people would go a long way. And those of us who have gotten in already should mentor that intern or that entry level designer. I’ve mentored people who wanted to transition into design. It seems like a small thing but knowledge passed down like that can grow a community.