It's been almost five years since I first launched Enivid with three designs that have become household favorites: the Kenyan Queen, the African Queen, and the Curly Queen, and I figured it was about time we talked about the inspiration behind these designs, starting with the first one.
The African Queen design started with a question: what faces do I wish I saw on graphic tees when I go to the mall? (Remember the mall?) The answer to that was simple. Faces that looked like mine and my sisters'. I wanted to create something that my aunts, cousins, and friends could see a bit of themselves in. My aunts always had beautiful figurines and artwork of African women in their homes, and I would sit and admire their collections of smooth, elegant women in headwraps and braids. I wanted to channel the feeling of those little carved women into my artwork like a tribute to my childhood.
I also wanted to keep my first designs simple. I wasn't sure how I was going to get them printed on shirts at the time-- was I going to have to draw them myself? Get a cricut? Pay for every color i used? Etc--- and I also wanted the women I drew to feel like they could be anyone. I tend to lose myself in small details that create life and personality and character in a drawing, but this time I reigned it in. She would be bold and beautiful, but not too specific. She would be cunning and joyful, but not too specific. She would be the embodiment of a queen without anyone being able to determine which nation she governed.
Thus, the African Queen was born.
You may have noticed that she originally didn't have skin color. That wasn't a mistake. I wanted her to be able to be filled in with any shade you could imagine. Black women come in so many beautiful colors, each of them equally beautiful, that I didn't want to limit her to just one. Later on, when I transferred the design to sweatshirts, I gave her skin some hue so the line work of her face didn't get lost in the vibrant red or dark black I chose for the shirt.
Truth be told, when I look at the fully colored African Queen, I think of my mom. Maybe it's because she wears her own African Queen sweathisrts all the time (much to my delight🥰) , or perhaps I managed to accidentally create her likeness. Regardless, this design holds a special place in my heart as one of my first babies with Enivid. It's been an honor and a privilege experiencing everyone else loving The African Queen for the last five years. Thank you, always.
The African Queen Sweatshirt
The Queen Mantra Hoodie