The Collective, The Collaborative and The Commons

When I was at University, a classmate of mine had formed a collective with some of his friends from his old school. If I remember correctly, it was a collaborative effort that merged music, photography and design. I'd not heard of a 'collective' before — not if you counted The Fugees or Wu Tan Clan. Slightly threatened by his confidence in his work, I paid very little attention to this very subject that I would come to write about seven years later. Before left home to pursue my Graphic Design BA, I'd lived in a smallish town about an hour from London, with very little cool and hip movements in the design or art world. In any case, I certainly was never hip or savvy enough to envision my own collective. Instead, I was a type of nerdy girl, set on doing things the 'traditional' way, working my way up in the industry. I suppose I always felt insecure about choosing an art-based subject where its connotations were not as notable as more theoretic/academic studies. So I crammed as much art and design history into my head as possible and filled my speech with "Well, typography is almost as old as mankind"...wahwahwah. 

 

"the tides were turning, and new ways of becoming a graphic designer were developing"

I charged myself with art movements and manifestos (most of which I'm extremely rusty on nowadays), learned the names of big design agencies, artists and typographers. I was taught earlier on in my art and design education that this is the way design careers had to be started. And while this was somewhat true, in that it had been the way success had been achieved for a lot of people, the tides were turning, and new ways of becoming a graphic designer were developing. I'm reluctant to use terms like 'the future of design' or 'changing' in this type of text because the idea of design as a constant cog of change is a vague subject to grasp in one sitting.

In the same breath, the concept of young people setting a tone for their creative lives, and establishing themselves as designers before their studies had finished was a notion I shunned very hard...I felt that it was all so entitled. So you can imagine how I turned my nose up at someone my age wanting to carve their own path so early. This classmate of mine believed he could and so he did. He merged his creative abilities together with some other creative people in different fields and they just did what felt good to them. It was a crew based on a creative commons. Though through this experience, I learned to find the value in the 'crew' and 'clique', something was still missing for me. I had never grown up in one place, let alone had people in my life who were also creative like me, so to not have any allegiance to any particular creative 'clique' was a little alienating. 

"I was lucky to work, and at times intern for companies who really taught me valuable things"

I still find value in the encouragement that, given the right circumstances, students ought to join established firms first, learn the ropes, then venture out on their own...if only for a little while. My experiences at *established firms and agencies gave me the confidence that I have today. Through having multiple commercial jobs in the design and publishing industry, I learned how to deal with seemingly impossible deadlines, work-place conflicts, redundancies and much much more. I'd never take any of those experiences back...okay maybe I'd take back working for one or two of those companies... But I was lucky to work, and at times intern for companies who really taught me valuable things, both in skill-set development and professional conduct. My freelance jig is now a much richerer experience because of working in the industry first. 

I was speaking to a close friend of mine about how design businesses are steadily harnessing a new form. We both agreed that we didn't want to be freelancers or in an agenct but that there ought to be a middle ground. That we could take the good out of both and merge them as a sort of microcosm. Using the example of my classmate's collective concept before, without creating a clique (as many design agencies/studios are/do), designers would just exist as collaborators and collectives. 

What if we started to utilise an index of people who would be willing share a brief and people worked together per project. To put things into perspective; a brand approaches a print-based designer about a project. The print designer knows that the project is exciting, but could be fulfilled to a much greater extent with use of web design and motion graphics. This designer then enlists various people in his index to see if they can bring the project to full completion. Now of course there's a hole in this instance — money. How would finances be resolved? If a brand approaches one designer, they're paying for what they're getting — one designer. How will you convince the brand to employ you and five other people as a collective? I haven't figured out the full answer yet. But I will say this, sometimes brands approach you with a singular request; they see the end product without fully realising what the whole package of that product could become. They see their product as singular, but as a designer, it's your job to help them envision it as diverse as possible. That's brand identity design 101. 

 

"the world is becoming (or already is) increasingly multi-channelled"

Finally, the reason why I'm becoming more and more convinced that the collective approach is the way to go, is because the world is becoming (or already is) increasingly *multi-channelled. A magazine 20 years ago would've thrived being just a print publication, but now that same magazine needs to be able to translate well online and potentially as an app. Who fills these boots? Certainly not print designers who would've designed these publications 20 years ago, but that doesn't mean that these designers are to be pushed aside in favour of UI/UX designers, or motion designers etc. It just means that there is now, more than ever, a need for collaboration and collectivity of the wide array of designers we have currently. Of course I'm aware that these types of design ideologies exist already, but I call to light that this mode of work should be a natural option when conversations are being had about current work methods of freelancers graphic design and design studios.

Notes: 
*Established: Main job providing comfortable income, having employees, and/or with capability to expand.
*Multi-Channelled: is just a fancy way of saying that brands are using multiple ways to reach customers, from billboards, to installations to apps...basically everything. 

& This blog post is a part of Design Blogger Competition organized by CGTrader

#SHEART16 EXHIBITION

 

And, it's wrap, homies

 

I won't write too much, because between moving countries and setting this event up, I've barely had any sleep. Thank you so much for coming. The energy was impeccable, I couldn't have asked for anything better. We sold out of all our stock! Intense right!?!!??!?! This means that there are now no more copies in the physical Fashaddict store, but postcards and prints are still available for sale in my online store, and now with free shipping on all orders. www.sheridakuffour.com/shop Thank you so so much again, I'm very grateful. Regular posting will continue in September. 

 

Photos by myself, Justina & Maryan

www.sheridakuffour.com/shop

Free shipping on all orders starting from 8th August!

 

SheridaKuffour x FashaddictLDN — You're Invited

 

It's currently 10.30pm, I'm sat on my mother's couch watching CSI, and full up with rice and stew. I cannot believe this year so far. To say it's been/is a whirlwind is an understatement. If you follow me anywhere on social media, then you'll know that I've been exhausting all areas with my art. I've never done this before! What I mean is, I've never been this shameless in promotion of myself or my art as I have been in the last 5 days (and guys, it's EXHAUSTING, I'm tired of my own voice). From opening my shop last week, to trying to spread the word, and doing all the background work. I haven't really stopped. And this exhibition is no exception. Next week, I'm having an exhibition. I'm doing this with zero money, and really no plan—I'm just gonna to wing it. I got offered the space so last minute and I could either turn it down in fear of not being able to do it for lack of money, or say yes and sort the rest out later. Evidently, I chose the latter. Back in March, I flippantly joked about having an exhibition/party for all my friends. If you know me in real life then you'll know that this is so not me. I've never hosted a party or an event of any kind, so this is a whole new thing for me.

"Also didn't someone say to do one thing everyday that scares you?" 

Also didn't someone say to do one thing everyday that scares you? Well, it suffice to say that this is definitely frightning me. Nevertheless, it's important I press on. Today my sweet mother bought me some frames for the exhibition. When I told her I'd opened my shop, she kinda laughed and said "okay". Bless her. She's so invested in seeing me through this graphic design career. She gets that. She "gets" graphic design, it's tangible, it's something she can explain it, and even add her commentary to art movements or brand identities. But when I told her about my illustration exhibition and shop, she looked at me like "what are you up to now Sherida?". To be honest, I don't really know what I'm up to. I've always regarded myself as a graphic designer and nothing else. But for the first time, I'm coming around to the idea that I might actually be an illustrator too...and an art director...as well a photographer. In the design industry, it's something of a taboo to be a jack of all trades, because you're seen as undecided. At least that's what I've found in London. Plus, the truth is, sometimes I don't think I have the authority to claim all these "titles".

"Who knows what comes next after these small beginnings"

But I'm digressing massively. What I mean to say is, I'm tapping into owning this multi-disciplined lifestyle. This shop, this exhibition, is a manifestation of tiny thoughts planted by my friends and you my readers! From little comments here on this blog from people as close as Berlin to as far as Russia, thank you. 7 years blogging and counting. On to the next aye! Who knows what comes next after these small beginnings. Some books? Some cool collaborations? Some creative videos maybe? The possibilities are truly endless. 


Come celebrate, dance to some 90s music, drink some cheap wine and eat haribos, because we're all young and too broke to afford fancy Wine from South Africa and posh french canapés. be sure to follow my instagram,  and twitter for regular updates! 

Twitter, Snapchat & Instagram: @sheridada

See you real soon. 
Sherida —x.

 

The Five women in the art shop

On the women that make up this collection

Zipporah (Red) was the first one. She was the first name of the pack. I knew I wanted to draw somebody called that name. In the Bible, Zipporah was the wife of Moses, and daughter (adopted, I've always assumed) of Midianite Priest, Jethro. She's only mentioned a few times, but her name means 'Sparrow' or 'Little Bird'. It was then that I picked up a book by Marek E. Halter called 'Zipporah'. It was a fiction novel about Zipporah's life or how it might've gone. Of course, there was no real biblical basis, but I was instantly drawn to the her story of rejection. Throughout her life, her dark skin places her firmly in the bosom of an outsider. She's fierce and loyal but stubborn, hot tempered and very deeply vulnerable. In many ways, it was the first time that I saw myself in any of my illustrations. It's why she remains my favourite piece I've ever done. 

"Throughout her life, her dark skin places her firmly in the bosom of an outsider."

As for Noa (Pink), the idea for her came much much later. I loved creating her, but for some reason she didn't quite stick. She felt too out of place compared to the others I'd illustrated. She was too playful, too young almost. It was then when I was randomly reading Numbers 27, that I came across this story about a man called Zelophehad who passed away, leaving five daughters behind. In the absence of a male heir, these five daughters fought and petitioned for their inheritance because there was no male to carry the inheritance. By fighting this traditional custom, and going against society's male grip on their destinies, these five women, and particularly Noa—who was the speaker refused to be robbed of what was rightfully theirs.

Ultimately, I created these characters based on women in the Bible whose stories I find most interesting. For me, being able a Christian and a feminist are so deeply intertwined. I discovered so much of myself, that is, being black, and being a woman when I converted to Christianity. I found me, my passions, and compassions in Him. It's a very odd thing to say in this climate we're currently in, but it's something I've never been more sure of. 

 

Make sure you check out my shop for these prints and loads more stuff coming up. 

www.sheridakuffour.com/shop

SheridaKuffour Shop — Art Prints

 
 
 

I'm so incredibly excited to announce the opening of my very own art shop! After years of loving nagging by my friends and you, my readers, I thought it was about time to open up my own situation on the innernetz. 


So, at present, there are only 50 prints for sale. And once that's gone, That's it! as in, there won't ever (never say never though) be another Tabitha (orange bae) or another Zipporah (red Boo). I did this because I think it's important, to stay growing. I love These five chicks, but at some point, some other Characters with different life stories will have to be told to.