We first delved into the illustration practice of Leeds’ very own Luci Pina in the summer of 2020. At the time, she told us about how she fuses poetry with Black archival research to reveal her personal narrative. Now, three years later, she is charmed at being able to continue on this Black motif, creating posters for parties and events all over. “I just love drawing Black folk and showcasing the creativity and love among us. It's nice to visualise that, it doesn't happen enough in my field,” she tells us. And so, her refined style and attentive eye have seen her go as far as taking typography inspiration from the likes of number plates and shop fronts she’s seen in archive films, to promote a narrative for others within her community.
Luci is all about references. Dubbing herself a “responsive illustrator”, she talks about laughing at her inability to draw without reference imagery or film. “But now that’s the reason why clients book me; they have an awareness of the way I work and immediately send over any imagery for me to use.” In her commissioned posters, the characters aren’t looking up at you, they are looking around, at each other or off into the world that Luci has placed them in. It’s part of what stokes her love for repeatedly drawing crowds, which she has now become known for. “It has really pushed me to always find new ways to make this concept feel fresh with every new client,” she says.
All of the posters that Luci has created have this evergreen, perceptive feel. Like a cultural emissary, she is taking from “people, their style and surroundings” before feeding this inspiration back into her commissions – playing a huge role in how the event or party is perceived. Recently, Luci has taken her hand to many art forms, pushing the target community to the forefront every single time. This can be seen in her work with the likes of American rapper Mike on his Ipaki tour poster and The Blacker the Berry collective championing African diaspora LGBTQIA+ artists. “It’s all about capturing the people who attend and perform,” she says. “Posters only become difficult to make when clients become super restrictive or don’t understand the audience. The posters I’m most proud of were for clients that had respect and trust in what I do.”
Overall, what we see here is a practice which is neither insular or overly broad. Luci shows us the possibilities of commercial work that stays within the community, while also digging far beyond her surroundings into the archives and across borders to find reference and inspiration. "Looking at my work, I think my job and my strength is capturing the atmosphere of an event and the essence of the people who are there.”
Luci Pina: 10K Global Christmas Party December 2022 (Copyright © Luci Pina, 2022)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.