Jamila Okubo is a Kenyan-American illustrator, painter, and pattern and textile designer. Based in New York, she’s also a student at Parsons the New School for Design. Inspired by African American history, Kenyan textiles, and fashion, Okubo creates patterns and textiles that speak to all of these interests, but grounds them in her own experiences.

In an interesting chat with The Style Idle‘s Adwoa Afful, Jamila Okubo talks about her inspirations for her paintings, the stories behind some of her pieces and so much more. Read excerpts of her interview below:

On artists she draws inspirations from: I would say that one of the first black contemporary artists that I had learned about through one of my teachers in high school was Mickalene Thomas. She’s like my favourite artist in the world.

On focusing on African-American women in her painting: I just like to show empowering images of females, because everyone is different and they should embrace who they are. Especially black women because there are so many discussions about issues with like hair and the way women dress and their body type and there’s just a lot going on.

On personal style: I think personal style is really important. I find it really fun. I haven’t really gone shopping or made personal clothing for myself [in a while]. But yes, I have a huge obsession with button downs and anything with print or bright colours. Because I haven’t really been able to afford my own clothing, I like to create illustrations of females in different outfits wearing what I would wear. So, I think it’s really fun to incorporate fashion into my illustrations especially with the women and like their shoes and their clothing and their accessories. It’s really fun because I feel like I’m being a fashion designer on paper and a stylist at the same time. I think it’s really important to have your own style. I think it’s really enjoyable to everyone because they’re able to express themselves cause there are a lot people I know who are like, “I wish I could draw or express myself some way” and I feel like fashion is a really good way to express yourself even if you’re not an artist, because you’re playing around with colour or print, a style of clothing or the fit of clothing and you’re creating your own persona that way.

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Read up her full interview with OkayAfrica Here and check out more of her works on her Tumblr.


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