London College of Fashion alumna Sadie Jordan recently released her first colouring book Beauty and the Braid, which "celebrates black beauty through hairstyles and textures", and was featured in TalkRadio’s Badass Women’s Hour. Sadie created Beauty and the Braid for her major project while studying BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration.
Hey Sadie! Can you tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to LCF?
I was doing nail art at WAH Nails before I started at LCF and I worked there throughout my studies. I also did a foundation course at Ravensbourne before joining BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration.
Now you've graduated with a first class! What drew you to LCF in particular?
It's such a huge name in the creative industry and I thought it would be a good idea to go somewhere well-known so that when I try and apply for jobs, they recognise that I went to a world-renowned institution. I thought it would help me on my career path.
How do you feel that the course influenced your creative direction?
It always encouraged me to choose topics that I can relate to personally and would be engaged with throughout the length of the project. I didn't want to just draw one or two things a week. I was inspired to produce work on a daily basis and keep doing research.
Everything around you that you see will influence your work and help you to progress in your project.
In terms of work that you're passionate about, can you tell me how you got the idea for Beauty and the Braid, and what your vision was for this project?
Initially I started by looking at self-reflection, and I completed a research proposal which focused on identity, social media pressure on young women and the emphasis on augmented reality using filters to distort what's actually there. Following that, I decided to explore my own identity, looking at my heritage and my culture, and that's how black hair became my focal point. That’s when I found what I was really interested in drawing and what I wanted to illustrate.
Why did you choose a colouring book format?
I use adult colouring books when I’m struggling with self-image and want to de-stress. I wanted to explore the links between mental health and art therapy. As well as hairstyles, the book also features mandalas that I made by digitally tracing over strands of synthetic hair. All the quotes are from songs, poems and literature that I feel represent a positive message for women and those of BAME backgrounds. They are a combination of iconic, historical and post-modern voices.
What are your favourite quotes in the book?
I really love the first quote, by Maya Angelou, "You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody." You don't have to try and be something that you're not in order to feel like you're good enough. The way that you are is enough. I think it's very powerful, and the rest of the quotes follow a similar theme.
Who is this book specifically for? What's the message in the inspiration and who do you hope it will reach?
I think it’s suitable for any age, but mainly black and ethnic minority girls and women, to help them celebrate their natural hair. You don't have to conform to Western standards, use a relaxer or straighten your hair to look beautiful. You can protect your natural hair and have braids or wear your afro as you like.
What would you say are your thoughts on creative wellbeing and representation in fashion art?
I feel like there definitely needs to be more. There is a lack of racial representation in publishing and fashion. I think it's improving, especially since Edward Enninful became the editor in chief of Vogue. I'm starting to see more black women in magazines and more representation of myself, which is refreshing.
Your Instagram artwork seems to be mostly focused on women of colour. How does that feed into your future plans and projects as an illustrator?
Yeah, exactly! It's more personal to me and it's something that I can navigate myself as a woman of colour. I feel like I relate to the topic and it helps me to engage more with my illustrations when that's my focus.
I just want to use my art as a way to inspire girls like me and put things into the world that don't really exist yet. If I'm creating something new it can help to change how we are perceived by others.
Brilliant. Final question, do you have any advice for future students who will be reading this article and who are interested in the BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging and Illustration course?
I would say that it's difficult to find what you want to focus on in your project. Art is such an opinion-based subject, not everyone is going to love your work. You have to be able to take constructive criticism, but also know when to ignore advice. You have to be very headstrong.
Believe in yourself, believe in your work, because there will be someone that appreciates what you're creating.