Cultura Creative: representing diversity in illustration


We are proud to represent the work of illustrator, Yasmine Kadhim. Here she talks through her most recent body of work, a unique and powerful collection of illustrations representing women in all their forms and depicting matters that are important in life, yet often left hidden from the public gaze and still considered a taboo subject in modern society.

My inspiration

The inspiration for these illustrations comes from my appreciation of womanhood and particularly women of colour. I was always consumed with the idea of beauty growing up (as many females are conditioned to) and when I moved to the UK, I was able to explore different versions and standards of beauty. This is what inspired me to depict the variety of women that I do. 
Illustrating the importance of mental health and wellbeing has always been an active subject in my work, so when I discovered how lacking the world of stock was in images of womens health (well rounded health that is), I was motivated to produce realistic content that allows different types of people to see themselves in these pieces of imagery. 
What Cultura Creative does is allow the younger versions of ourselves to be seen and heard. I have never once come across a stock image that encapsulates the brown/queer/muslim/woman experience. So to be able to create these images is not only important to me, but hopefully empowering for others. 

My process

I always begin by rough sketching and noting down concepts that interest me, and luckily for me, designing characters has always been my first love when it comes to illustration. I always start with a story line and a history of the character I am designing. I feel like a vital element of storytelling is having an awareness of who you’re drawing and what they are like. Giving that knowinness to them brings out so much love when making. 

The power of illustration as a medium

As a child, I could never watch a cartoon or read a book and see characters that resembled me, and for that I always felt misplaced and worth less than my white counterparts. I know this is a very shared feeling among women and POC, and for that, it is important to shift the perspective and allow more children to grow up feeling acknowledged and celebrated. Using visuals is a very important and impactful way to allow people to feel seen. Illustrating scenes with more variety and versions of people gives us safety within ourselves and well as in our communities. The regular exposure of different bodies, colours, genders, abilities and sexual orientations is a tool to promote a better and kinder world for us. 

I love making artwork. I could draw before I could speak because I was such a shy and lonely child, and I would illustrate my feelings to my parents as a way of communicating to them. The more I learned about other lonely people, the more I wanted to connect to them and give myself and them a safe community. Joining Cultura Creative has been so rewarding and eye opening because I’ve met so many people like myself and have been able to build that community that 4 year old Yasmine always needed, and now she feels seen!

Cultura Creative is here to help you to tell your story, working with diverse talent and producing premium content that depicts under-represented groups to give you unique and powerful content. Send us your creative briefs and requirements and we will do the research for you.

See Yasmine’s work here

Cultura Creative newsletter – 24 August, 2021
©Yasmine Kadhim / Cultura Creative