This year TomboyX is partnering with illustrator and artist Shanee Benjamin. Benjamin's work revolves primarily around black, lesbian women and secondarily on queer identity. We thought she would be the perfect collaborator for our Womxn's History Month Print. We were lucky enough to sit down with Benjamin for a brief chat about her work, her inspirations, and how her work expands representation.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a designer/illustrator that really enjoys brand work. I prefer to work independently and running a freelance business is hard work! I left full-time corporate to work on my own terms and it's been a fantastic ride. My illustration inspiration comes from my daily life/personality. I draw what I see, and what I want to see.
Can you briefly walk us through your through process when designing a new print or work?
For illustration, there is no linear process, it really depends on the project. I love to do research so that's a constant. I believe mood-boards are helpful, and I'm a fan of a pencil sketch. Illustration wise, I have a curated color palette that I use, and I'm constantly adding to it. Design wise, staying up to date on design trends and design strategy is important.
What are the top things you’re trying to convey through your illustration work?
Love, intimacy, joy, comfort, genuine intention.
What illustration projects are you most proud of?
Twitter--A Wall For A Change, TomboyX, and my personal illustrations.
What was the inspiration behind the Face of Womxnhood print?
I have another abstract style of drawing that I do, but I'm hesitant to put it out. However I thought this was the perfect project to try it on. Womanhood is abstract.
What about TomboyX made you want to work with the company?
I love the product and queer body diversity.
A lot of your work revolves around women of color. Can you tell us a little bit about what about that subject matter intrigues you?
It doesn't intrigue me, it's who I am. My art is about my life.
Your 2019 project Herstory revolved around the idea of Black female joy. Can you tell us about the ideal of Black female joy and what you personally took away from that project?
Usually black women are depicted as sassy, and strong, and that's not all we are. We're soft, intimate, kind, genuine, nurturing. All of those qualities are geared towards white women. But we have those qualities too.
Can you talk a little bit about representation both around skin color and body diversity and why it feels important to represent that in your work?
Black comes in all shades. Black love comes in all shades, and in Brooklyn, NY queer relationships are diverse in skin color, body type, etc. I draw what I see.
To connect with Shanee you can find her on Instagram at @shaneebenjamin or on her website www.shaneebenjamin.com.