More and more commissioning editors and art directors are taking note of the lack of racial diversity in their pool of contributors, but many scratch their heads at coming up with practical solutions. One major factor is that people of colour artists can often find themselves marginalised, only visible for their works that explore race. Yellowzine wants to change that.
With issues themed on artistic disciplines — illustration for issue one and photography for issue two — the London-based title normalises the works of ethnic minority creatives, while dismantling the stereotypes or generalisations associated with their output by showing a diverse range of carefully selected talent. On its pages, first person narratives from photographers sit alongside their images, capturing the individuality of each artist’s interpretation of a chosen theme. We talk to co-founder Aisha Ayoade to find out more.
What is Yellowzine?
Yellowzine is an art magazine that aims to centralise the work of contemporary minority ethnic artists that are based or born in the UK.
Why did you want to make a magazine showcasing people of colour creatives?
Both myself and my brother (and co-founder) Oreoluwa studied degrees within the arts curriculum. Within the category of ‘art’ (or ‘literature’ in my case), minority ethnic creators never stood as a part of the mainstream. Instead, they always fell into a sideline; this sideline typically features artists of colour who make work about their race, and although this is a true and very valid factor, by recognising race-focused art alone, this enforces a generalisation on all people of colour artists.
We made the magazine as a reaction to the limited boxing of black and minority ethnic artists; we did this to spotlight the range of talent and the variety of motivations behind art by minorities and to show that we are as multifaceted in our art as we are in our identity.
How did you come up with the name?
The name Yellow was chosen because we felt it signified the essence of our magazine. Yellow is a simple yet bold colour that stands strongly by itself and needs no complementary colours in order to make a statement — much like our artists who produce work that stand in its own lane and stands strongly within it. Additionally, as the magazine acts as a directory for minority ethnic artists in the UK, the idea of ‘yellow’ was a play on the good old yellow pages.
Tell us about a couple of artists you were particularly excited to showcase.
There are so many, more than I can fit into a short answer! Abdou Cisse was an artist of particular interest to us because of his background. Being an artist whilst juggling a full-time commercial job was an experience that the both of us were all too familiar with, so we were looking forward to hearing and sharing that juxtaposition of spaces. Also, a personal friend and team member of Yellow, Rebekah Williams amongst other things, uses her work to channel her frustrations as a student in a white-dominated art course; her work stands so boldly and unapologetically which we knew would resonate with a lot of our readers.
What’s next for Yellowzine?
Following the reception we had from our launch party, publishers’ talk and exhibition, and the interaction with events outside of the physical magazine, we’re looking to expand our website and provide a mini-encylopedia for the world of art by minority ethnic creatives in the UK. Also, more talks and events are on the horizon, so watch this space.
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