Creative Connection

March 29, 2018 /Adobe Stock /

Images that Empower

Andrea Pippins is an illustrator whose work not only appeals to our aesthetic senses but also encourages us to embrace diversity and challenge the status quo. “My mission is to create visual stories that inspire and empower people of colour,” shares Andrea.

She arrived at this mission quite simply – she wanted to see more images and stories that reflected her community, but they were often going ignored. “I figured if I wasn’t seeing it anywhere, then perhaps I had to create it, whether it was through my art, books, blogs, or video.” And so she did.

Andrea Pippins / Adobe Stock

Women have always been a strong influence in Andrea’s life. One of her earliest memories comes from a sewing studio in Washington D.C. where she spent her days as a toddler. She was surrounded by immigrant women, including her mother. “While my mother was sewing and fitting clothes I would be drawing and colouring for hours,” she shares. And it was in this small sewing studio where Andrea’s love for creative expression, textiles, and female empowerment was born.

Andrea Pippins / Adobe Stock

But as a young person, Andrea didn’t see many role models in art and design that reflected her background and heritage. “My path has unfolded as it needed to, but it might have been a little easier if I saw earlier others who looked like me being successful in the realms of design and illustration,” she explains.

Today, she makes a purposeful effort to create work that reflects her community, and be an example of a successful person of colour in the arts. Her books empower young people to accept and love their bodies and heritage. I Love My Hair is a colouring book that embraces hair of all colour, styles, and textures, and Young, Gifted, and Black celebrates the accomplishments of inspirational figures from the black community. It’s been especially rewarding for Andrea to see readers young and old embrace her publications.

Andrea Pippins / Adobe Stock

Her mission-driven work is also reflected in her Stock portfolio: “I created these images specifically for Adobe Stock because the platform connects to my mission of getting people excited to create and tell their own stories.” In addition to celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Andrea’s illustrations bring light to the importance of self-care and self-love, sisterhood and community, as well as vulnerability and emotional support, especially for women of colour.

Andrea Pippins / Adobe Stock

Andrea continues looks to strong women, especially women of colour, for inspiration: “When I’m drawing or cleaning I put on YouTube videos or podcasts featuring some of these women and just listen to their stories. Mimi Valdés, Mara Brock Akil, Latham Thomas – these are just a few dynamic women who inspire me. Seeing them dream big inspires me to do the same.”

Through her blog and social media channels, Andrea acts as a role model herself. She catalogues her process and inspiration, tells the stories of other women in the arts, gives advice and shares creative prompts. Her best advice for budding creatives – and she admits that this may sound trite to some – is to be yourself. “It’s so true, yet so hard with the world constantly telling us we aren’t enough,” she adds.

Andrea Pippins / Adobe Stock

For Andrea, being yourself means “finding your voice, creating your own mission statement for your work or life, and defining your own path.” She followed her own advice when she first

decided to become a full-time freelance illustrator. She made a commitment to her goal, and methodically planned out her ideas, dreams, and practical projects that she would need to complete to financially sustain her lifestyle. This became her “guideline for moving forward” and although not everything went according to plan (nothing in life ever does), it was this structure that gave her the foundation to build her business. “When you trust your vision and focus on being yourself everything else falls into place.”

Follow Andrea’s journey on her Instagram and see more of her illustrations in the Adobe Stock Premium collection.

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