We're getting dangerously close to mid-December. Do you have your gifts sorted out yet? Do you feel stressed about that? I have something that I think will help you on both counts.
Artist Andrea Noel is a soulful creator who is publishing a coloring book celebrating Black women's hair. The act of flipping through the book and seeing Noel's illustrations is joyful in itself, but to color them in and set your own creativity free may be just what you need this season. I interviewed the artist about her path to publishing this, and we have a special giveaway at the end for you as well.
What has your journey been to this point, have you always been an artist?
I began drawing 15 years ago. Initially drawing was only a pastime and way to de-stress from my Chemical Engineering curriculum at Howard University. But in 2008, I was asked to draw a piece as a gift for someone and since then, I've drawn thirty commissioned pieces. I began showcasing my art in 2013 and to date I've participated in 25 art shows. The art market is tough, but I am determined to make my brand successful and I spend as much time as I can creating, marketing, diversifying my services, attending art shows and partnering with others to make my aspirations as an artist and entrepreneur a reality.
Can you tell us about your creative process? Where do you draw inspiration?
I get inspiration from my story and the stories of others. I love bold, thick lines and bright colors, so my medium of choice is sharpie markers on watercolor paper. My creative process involves getting clear on my subject or theme, sketching pencil drafts and creating bold thick lines to ensure that the main image(s) stand out. Then I weave intricate patterns in and around the main images. My final step involves applying bright colors to the art piece, or on rare occasions I leave the piece in black and white.
Coloring book illustrations in progress
What inspired you to create this coloring book?
Inspiration for the coloring book came from customers and people I encountered at art shows who frequently said that my work would make a great coloring book. The theme for my book came to me when I made a decision to grow my hair out after wearing tapered haircuts for a few years. Then I thought about the many hairstyles I've rocked throughout the years and initially wanted the book to chronicle my hair story. However, after I created the first 10 images I considered how versatile black hair is and decided to celebrate the different styles black women wear. That's when 10 images grew into 30.
Why is it important to you to incorporate soul and spirituality into your artwork?
Connecting with my soul/spirit I'm inspired to authentically express me; it also gives others permission to be who they are. I also believe that soulful connections promote and sustain our spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. I endeavor to help people soulfully connect with themself, others and the Sacred.
Are there lessons you've learned or challenges you've overcome in this process that you'd like to share with our readers?
The most important lessons I've learned as a creative entrepreneur are:
1. I have everything I need to be successful; the Universe will always provide whatever I need once I am open to receive it. Being open helps me recognize when the Universe is offering me what I need. Often times I am so attached to what I want I'm unaware of what I really need.
2. One reason we do not achieve our dreams is because of fear. Fear is useful since it can warn of apparent dangers, but when we allow our fears to hijack our lives it cripples us. We can overcome fear by facing them and making them our friend. Yes, I befriend my fears. I talk to them and get to know them. Learning where my fears come from helps me rewrite the stories that keep my fears around.
3. Love will carry you whenever you can't stand on your own. When I am at my lowest it's my love for creating art that keeps me trying. I keep creating and selling my art because I love sharing meaningful art. Whether I make $500 or $10 in a month I keep working on my art, and business, because I love what I do. I love how my art can inspire others and connect people to self, each other and God.
Coloring book illustrations in progress
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative?
Keep creating, no matter what and don't hide what you create. Your creations are your gift to the world. Sell your work, trade it for other meaningful things; display it in your home, workplace, on social media and wherever it can be seen. Your creative spirit is needed to heal others and make this world a better place. So never hide what you create.
What is your vision for this coloring book, how would you like to see it used by those who buy or win it?
My vision for the book is that it helps black women love their hair and most of all love themselves. I also hope that it encourages them to practice ways, like coloring, to take a meaningful break from their busy lives. In order to care for others, perform our best at work and be our best selves we have to take care of the spiritual, emotional and physical parts of our life and coloring has been proven to be a way to positively impact those aspects of life.
2 lucky winners will win two copies each of Kinks, Perms & Afros: A Coloring Book Celebrating Black Women's Hair. One for yourself, and one to gift to a friend.
All you have to do is comment below telling us who you'd like to gift your copy to!
This giveaway ends December 15 and is open to U.S. residents only, as per our Terms and Conditions.
*Please make sure you have liked us on Facebook, so that we can notify you if you've won.
You can also purchase your own copy of the book on Amazon now.
Thank you so much to Andrea Noel for sharing your coloring book with our community. You can follow more of her work at @anoelcreates.