I spend hours illustrating. I deeply enjoy it. It's almost meditative for me, doing each line, undoing them, doing them again, creating the connections and smoothing the rough bits out, before settling in and turning to color them in. But it didn't begin out of joy. It didn't begin intentionally.
It began because I couldn't find something. I couldn't find illustrations of pregnant Black people. And I couldn't just let that go. I needed to fill the gap. I needed to do it myself, because who else would? And here's a little more of why I'm so glad now that I do...
Reaching people doesn't always have to be so complicated. Make an illustration, and all of a sudden, you've built a bridge to someone. I love that.
The Depth and Power
People have reached out to me to let me know how much it meant to them to see illustrations of Black and Brown people during pregnancy and birth and parenting. The lack of the availability of that sent a strong message. Finding it sent a new message, and that message had real impact. My clients have pointed it out before. It makes a difference to them.
Sometimes things are difficult to explain, or take longer to explain in words than they do to explain in images. Images live in another space in the mind, that's even more effective for some people. And images transcend language, too.
Sometimes seeing something visually leaves a different impression than hearing about it, or sparks a curiosity that hearing wouldn't spark. Sometimes it just sits differently with us when we see it. I like that, too.
All else aside, I'm most happy if I look at an illustration and I think, "Well, that's just beautiful." And that's often the case. Pregnant people are powerful and beautiful.