Linda (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist based in London by way of Barcelona. Known for her drawings, Linda adorns digital and traditional canvases with unleashed energy, hyper-saturated colors, and figures that unabashedly take up space. With a deep adoration for animation and children’s books, Linda credits her style to animes and movies she watched as a child. Since making a move to London, she’s cultivated community through BBZ, a queer art & DJ collective, having been featured in their Alternative Graduate Show. In the future, she would like to illustrate educational content for children and continue to build community with Black artists, whether it be online or in-person
What medium(s) do you work in?
I work both digitally and with traditional media such as ink, acrylics and crayons.
Your color palette is energetic, your figures take up an enormous amount of space, and the physical features of these figures are over exaggerated in a satirical way. Who are these characters and what is this fantasy world you’ve created for them?
I grew up fat, so being the only Black, fat kid in the area made me very aware of my body and how I look. It just stayed with me till this day. I appreciate using a lot of volume in my figures because those are the people I want to see represented. Artistically speaking, I enjoy drawing bigger people. I also love comedy and cartoons, so it brings me joy to use a lot of volume in my figures.
EH! (2019), digital illustration
In a previous interview you mentioned that manga, early animation and children’s books are large inspirations for your style. What are some manga and animations that you draw reference from?
Some of my favorite anime are the commercial ones like Shin-Chan, Sailor Moon, Sakura, and Yu Yu Hakusho. Disney has also inspired me a lot— though we don’t associate with that man. When you see my art, you can see Disney because we grew up with it. Betty Boop was a huge inspiration for me as well. When I was a kid, one of my older sisters would wear a lot of Betty Boop and Snoopy t-shirts, and I thought they were cute and sexy, so I wanted to incorporate that into my art. Also, Manuelita is an Argentinian movie that I would watch on repeat every day, and it uses the same color palette I use, which are mainly bright eighties colors.
How long have you been working and how did you get started?
Because of school I’ve always been exposed to multiple mediums. I remember using acrylics and lots of watercolors in college, but got a bit more into ink when I graduated. Shortly after, I started posting drawings that I would scan, send to my email, and fill with color on paint or GIMP. My friends encouraged me to go digital to save time from going to the shop, so I got a tablet. That’s when I started adding more highlights and gloss to my characters.
How did your experience growing up Nigerian-Congolese in Barcelona influence your creative vision? How did you interact with the art scene there?
I always get asked this, but I’ve never gotten this question from a Black interviewer. It was shit. My background didn’t matter as much because I was just Black. Being the Black kid and being the nappy-headed kid is obviously going to be hard, but it also helped me be more creative because of the time I would spend on my own consuming content. I was on Youtube most of the time in primary school once we got a computer at home.
I studied art in school and I enjoyed art class for the most part. We only got taught classic European art—it was boring. Even if I enjoyed it academically, I couldn’t relate to it creatively. When I got to college, I started getting hooked on Tumblr, and that’s when we created a group for Black people in Spain to know each other. From there, I started meeting different creatives, not only in Barcelona, but in Madrid and other cities in Spain. It was more of a social thing because when it comes to interacting with the art scene, I really haven’t. I moved to the U.K. right after finishing my studies, and I haven’t been very connected to the Barcelona art scene because everyone was white, and I moved to the U.K. to meet Black creators.
Una moto (2020), digital illustration
Now that you’re living in the U.K., has your experience changed as a creative? I see that you did a really big show in with BBZ London! The fact that you were able to go there and establish some kind of community is amazing.
That was a big blessing! I wasn’t planning on taking art seriously because I didn’t believe I could. I moved to intend to go to uni and create community, and once I came across BBZ, Pussy Palace, and this whole community of queer Black and brown people, I thought I would submit and see what happened. They have this Alternative Graduate Show every year where some people have studied and some people haven’t, and they allow people to showcase their art with other great artists. They set up a dinner with everyone so we could get to meet each other, which was very cool because I didn’t know any creatives in this country. I felt very inadequate in that show because everyone seemed like they knew what they were doing, but it’s part of the journey. It was very nice and it kind of established me as a “real artist.”
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I was heavily inspired by Jonny Negron, he’s one of my faves and he’s Puerto Rican. When it comes to music I like Frank Ocean, BbyMutha, Jungle Pussy—all the girls! I listen to mostly rap, R&B, Jazz, and some old Flamingo, Reggaeton, and Brazillian Funk. Since I’m Nigerian-Congolese, I’d like to know a couple filmmakers and writers from back home because I haven’t been reading or watching many documentaries. I’d like to get into it because it’s a part of my creative process and if I don’t, there will be things missing. Besides that, Rahm is one of my favorite artists. I also like Aya Brown and Kezia Harrell.
What’s a moment in your career that you’re proud of?
I’m very proud of when I got my tablet and learned how to use it. I’m also very proud of having been a part of my first collective exhibition with BBZ LDN. My imposter syndrome was hitting hard those days but it was exciting and my first time being in a creative environment like that. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have much to be proud about, but the fact that I made the active decision to assert myself as an artist is a big deal for me.
Untitled (2020), digital illustration for RZR DENIM
What support systems do you wish were in place for Black artists?
I would love a virtual or real-life space, but mostly a space online to create community for free. A lot of the things that stop Black artists from flourishing is that so many things happen to us, and depending on your intersection, sometimes you don’t have time to apply to grants or go to workshops. Sometimes you don’t even have access. Having a platform where Black queer artists can share information, even over Zoom, would be very cool. What would you want?
More mentorship. I’m not a visual artist, but I minored in Art History and I want to see more mentorship for Black students who want to be artists or art workers. You graduate university, but you may not know what to do next, and getting opportunities are all about your connections.
When you don’t study, it’s all about Instagram, and I hate having to rely on social media because I’m not that kind of person— it gives me anxiety. It also makes people push back. Since I don’t have a network outside of Instagram and I’m not using Instagram often, people assume that I’m not doing work or not interested in showcasing my work. If my only way of meeting other people is through DMing them, it’s just hard.
L: Untitled (2019), comic strip/digital illustration; R: Untitled (2020), illustration for Indoor Zine
What you mentioned about mentorship is very important. I need to have a personal connection with the people I work with, which is very inconvenient nowadays. Even with jobs, asking for advice, knowing how to respond to emails, knowing how to set prices—if we had community and mentorship, that wouldn’t be such a big issue, and we would be able to navigate things more comfortably.
Where do you see yourself and your practice in the future?
I would like to work in education and be able to illustrate educational content for Black kids. I also see myself helping and giving back through my art. I’m not even sure how or when, but I want that. I also want a house for myself where I can be calm and do my thing.
L: NO, PARA (2019), acrylic on canvas; R: Jeans (2019), ink on paper
Provide a few tips that may be helpful for young artists
Surround yourself with people that support you. Don’t expect help from people, don’t expect anyone to do anything for you because that will stop you from helping yourself. It’s normal to blame your circumstances for the state you’re in right now, especially if you’re Black because technically, it’s the world’s fault and not yours, but at the same time, poisoning your brain won’t help you. Eat well and drink water. Stay away from your phone if you can—which is hard, but it’s been helping me.
Sharing my work with other people is something I would like to add to my routine, and it’s something I would suggest to others. Being able to share your ideas and trust people is very important. When you don’t trust anyone, you won’t get good advice because you’re not sharing your truth—honesty is key.