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Black pioneers honoured with striking digital illustrations

BLACK ART: Joshua Boateng's pop art-inspired illustration of Sir Trevor McDonald

TO MARK Black History Month, Adobe Stock has partnered with three up-and-coming British artists and commissioned them to create illustrations featuring the people they personally believe have shaped, and are shaping, the UK’s black history. From impressionism to pop art, the artists were tasked with reimagining these icons combining historical art styles with new technology.

West London-based Joshua Boateng chose to celebrate one of the UK’s best known newsreaders, Sir Trevor McDonald and actress Letitia Wright, taking inspiration from the 1950’s pop art movement.

Boateng, who is self-taught, said: ”I chose Sir Trevor McDonald and Letitia Wright as I believe both characters reveal history can be created now, whether you’re young or old, male or female. By looking at the characters that are writing the story today, rather than people in the past, I hope it will encourage more people to make the most of the present and appreciate their everyday heroes.”

Dorcas Magbadelo also drew inspiration from the pop art era to reimagine authors Malorie Blackman and Alexandra Shepperd, highlighting the role that literary icons can play in writing black history; as well as Nicholas Okwulu, the Peckham-based founder of Pempeople, an organisation that empowers individuals to share new skills and knowledge within the South London community.

Magbadelo, who is behind the brand Dorcas Creates, said: “Illustrating authors seemed an obvious route for me, as literature is key in almost all areas of modern history, and both Alexandra and Malorie are great examples from the UK. Nicholas on the other hand is also making waves and building a legacy at a local level in my area, and I wanted to pay homage to that.”

MALORIE AND ALEXANDRA: Dorcas Magbadelo's artwork

Digital artist Kia Amoa, who splits her time between London and Leeds, took on a 19th Century impressionist style for her illustrations, which show influential figures such as Dame Shirley Bassey, Diane Abbott and Benjamin Zephaniah.

Amoa said: “I wanted to capture both male and female heroes from different eras, past and present, all of whom come to mind when I think of the UK’s black history. There were so many great characters throughout history, so it was a hard decision!”

BLACK HISTORY ICONS: Kia Amoa's 19th Century impressionist style illustrations

Adobe believes in creativity for all and through products including Adobe Stock and Creative Cloud, hopes to shine a spotlight on young artists from all backgrounds. Each of the illustrations by these three emerging talents were designed using Adobe Stock assets as well as Adobe Creative Cloud software.

This partnership is part of Adobe Stock’s History and Memory Visual Trends forecast, which gives brands, designers and artists a look into topics, themes and discussions that are drawing consumers’ attention. The trend explores how artists take inspiration from the past and bridge gaps between old-world styles and new world technologies.

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