I was so intrigued when I came across the works of DorcasCreates this summer. In some respects the illustrations reminded me of Jordi Labanda, whose stationary I became hooked on when I lived in Barcelona years ago; only this time there was a refreshing reflection of the natural beauty and vibrancy of black women like me. I was eager to learn more about the products and spread the word, so after months of busyness in both our lives Dorcas and I have produced the below Q & A for you all to enjoy!
Hey Dorcas, it was so great meeting you at the King’s Cross Canopy Market (London, UK) over the summer. Please introduce yourself for my readers.
Hi I’m Dorcas, the creator behind DorcasCreates. I’m a UK based illustrator and product designer obsessed with creating imagery of cute Black women! I’m largely self taught and have been somewhat creative my whole life but illustrating regularly for about 4 years.
Where are you from?
I’m based in London, UK. I’m Nigerian-British.
You’re so talented! Please tell us about your fabulous illustration business “Dorcas Creates”
Thank you! I started DorcasCreates as a business about 3 years ago. I’d just gotten back into illustration and wanted to create products that spoke to Black women and emphasised how beautifully diverse we all are. I put my illustrations onto lots of products that weren’t very representative for Black women a few years ago – greeting cards, wrapping paper, notebooks, enamel pins etc.
What inspired you to start “Dorcas Creates”?
I’d just got back from a trip to New York, and visiting the Brooklyn Museum and seeing works by Kehinde Wiley and Mickalene Thomas in person really inspired me to start creating again. I was also working in a school with 6th formers (16-19 year olds) and kept telling them to chase their dream or at the very least figure out what they enjoy doing and do that on the side, and I realised I wasn’t taking my own advice. So I (very foolishly) quit my job to illustrate full-time, but eventually started working part-time again so I could fund my growing business.
What kind of feedback have you received regarding your creations?
Lots of lovely feedback! A lot of people see themselves or their loved ones in my illustrations which was 100% my goal. I don’t draw celebrities because I want to celebrate the ordinary Black woman: the cute girl on the train with amazing braids, the girl you see at work who always looks so well put together, the punky black girl, the bald baddie, all of them deserve to be represented and have their individual beauty celebrated.
I love the fact that you promote black women through your illustrations, as well as natural afro hair. Why do you feel it’s important to do that?
I think it’s important to show how diverse we are in our Black womanhood. There’s no one way to style our hair, it’s so versatile and I always want to celebrate and honour that.
Do you have any particular experiences where a customer has told you about the positive impact that your work has had on them? If so please tell us about it.
I’ve had a few experiences where people tell me my “Pledge Print” is their morning mantra which to me is amazing! I’ve also had teachers buy my work for their students or to hang in their classrooms and they reach out and tell me the impact it has on them; just seeing everyday things like a poster or notebook with black faces on them really makes a difference to them.
What is the most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of running your business? What has been the highlight thus far?
The most challenging part of running my business has definitely been time management and being completely self funded. I’ve had to learn to ride the peaks and troughs. The most rewarding aspect is seeing how people respond positively to my illustrations and products and the impact it has on them. I don’t think I have one particular highlight, but it always amazes me how far my work travels; e.g. Danielle Brooks from OITNB bought one of my pins from my Etsy store, Shaznay Lewis from All Saints bought one of my earrings, my cards have been given to Amma Asante, Yvonne Orji and Thandie Newton – it’s crazy to me that Black women that I admire and look up to have pieces of my work!
What are your business aspirations?
I want to keep creating and expanding into new products and learn new skill sets. Next year I’m hoping to learn bookbinding and improve my screen printing and lino printing skills. I’ve got a pop-up shop called Ilé La Wà based in Walthamstow with another creator: Studionelle. We’re hoping to expand the shop into a more permanent space.
Is there anyone and/or any business that you hope to collaborate with in future?
I’d love to collaborate with a fashion brand like Monki to produce a limited collection or a homeware brand like IKEA; that would be amazing!
Anyone who know’s me knows I love Solange; I’d love to collaborate with her on a range of merch, or Janelle Monae.
You mentioned that you’re mostly self-taught, which is awesome! Did you have a particular strategy or method when teaching yourself?
I Google everything! I taught myself how to use Photoshop largely via blogs and Youtube videos. I also love books and spend way too much money on instructional books (just bought a book on bookbinding which I can’t wait to dive into).
Do you have any advice for those interested in starting their own illustration business?
Do things on your own terms. Don’t feel like you have to rush to bring out new products; go at your own pace. Take breaks when you need to so you don’t burn out.
Are there any upcoming events in London or elsewhere, or anything else that we should stay tuned for?
We’ll be having a Winter Warmer Christmas Market in our pop up shop Ilé La Wà on Thursday 13th December, 6PM-10PM, Central Parade, 6-10 Hoe Street, London, E17 4RT.
Are you offering any Christmas season specials?
Not this year.
Where are your products available for purchase?
My products are available for sale online at DorcasCreates.com and also in person at Ilé La Wà in Walthamstow (address as above). I have a full list of stockists on my website: Dorcascreates.com/pages/stockists.
What ingredient(s) do you think would be perfect for a smoothie?
I love adding Avocado to smoothies for added creaminess!