#LCFBHM: Tasha Francis - Personal and Professional Project
As part of Black History Month, we interviewed alumna Tasha Francis; a 22-year-old digital illustrator and film photographer based in London who studied BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration at LCF on her final year graduate showcase project, ‘Personal and Professional Project’.
For my final year graduate showcase project, ‘Personal and Professional Project’, I decided to base this project around Black hair culture and styling as I felt like it was a topic that I could confidently identify with. The aim was to produce a significant body of work as well as a refined set of illustrations for my portfolio relating to Black Hair.
As a Black creative, I focus on creating art and imagery that expresses my interests, thoughts, and feelings through a personal lens. The themes of my work may often be intersectional as well. I use illustration and art as my creative outlet to showcase my experiences and feelings as a Black woman.
My graduate showcase was the first and only project where I centred my work around the Black female experience of having Black hair and being immersed in Black hairstyling culture. I would like to incorporate more of my heritage in my future work after doing thorough and expansive research of specific elements surrounding my heritage that really drive me to make more work.
As a Black woman who is of Jamaican and Nigerian descent and has type four coily hair, I felt compelled to centre my graduate project surrounding Black hair. Throughout my teenage years, I used to go from protective style to protective style like having box braids but that all changed two years ago when I took the initiative to research and follow natural haircare tutorials so I could begin taking care of my type four hair after going 19 years neglecting it. Ever since then, I have embraced my Afro hair even more and so my graduate project was a visual celebration of this. I wanted to highlight the versatility and bold nature of Black hair and Black hair styling.
The hair tools shown in the collages in my illustrations are used by not only myself but many others who use them frequently such as a Denman brush, a wide tooth comb and an Afro pick. These tools are mostly catered to Afro textured hair so including these tools in my work further contextualised my portraits and gave a wider scope into Black haircare and Black hairstyling.
As a digital illustrator, I used Procreate to create my illustrations. It is simple to use but is packed with so many brushes and effects. What’s more, it is very affordable which is why it was more appropriate to use that Adobe Illustrator for example. When creating the collages, I took photos of the hair tools I had at home and used PicsArt (another useful image-making app) to make the cut-outs so I could easily create the collages.
What I did find challenging was selecting the various colour contrasts for each illustration – I didn’t want any of my illustrations to look the same, but I wanted to make the colour hues suitable for each portrait. My tutors in third year gave me on-going feedback suggesting that the colour selections should be more intentional and not random. This allowed me to be more conscious of colour contrasts and what I wanted each illustration to convey.
Since graduating, I have had more time to focus on my very own business (@h8ngry on Instagram) that showcases at various pop- ups.
All my recent work and illustrations from my graduate showcase can be see there as well as on my website where you can purchase stickers, tote bags, hoodies, t-shirts, and prints. I hope to continue working on my business as well as working for a fashion brand or creating illustrations for a publisher.