When life gives you lemons, make lemonade is the well-known phrase that inspired Yellowzine; the cultural magazine that aims to normalise the art of minority ethnic groups. For the two founders, Oreoluwa Ayoade and his sister Aisha Ayoade, society’s prejudices became a motivation to make a positive difference through art: “We have a well-established ‘lemons to lemonade’ motto that we are aiming to achieve through using societies’ marginalisation of artists of colour to create our own space,” the duo write in the magazine’s introduction.
The first issue of Yellowzine is a 121-page publication that showcases the work and personal stories of 24 creatives of colour. “Our aim as a magazine is to curate and celebrate the work of contemporary minority ethnic artists and creatives based in the UK. This facilitates a ‘safe space’ where artists who might have previously been sidelined due to ethnicity can freely express themselves,” Oreoluwa tells It’s Nice That. At a time where right-wing populist politics are on the rise, Yellowzine seeks to combat and change race-related judgements that marginalise certain creative ethnic groups and prevent their work from being seen and appreciated.
Illustration is the first issue’s main focus due to the craft’s broad nature; it can be both digitally rendered as well as hand-crafted. The magazine displays a number of artists, from well known creatives like Joy Miessi to lesser known talent like Amisha Acharaya and Randy Amaokohene. In so doing, the magazine creates a democratic platform that gives equal space to a wide range of voices, experiences and aesthetic preferences.
“With BME artists especially, there is a tendency to impose expectations upon their work which sometimes over-shadow the intended messages of the creative themselves,” Oreoluwa explains. By collating every artist’s work with their personal story, the magazine encourages creatives to reflect on their personal journeys that have inspired the work they produce. Framing the images with biographical information also allows Yellowzine to create a more completed picture of the individual creatives. “As important as the perception of the art work is, the roots of the work also needs to be acknowledged.”
Thankfully this is only the beginning of Yellowzine as the editors intend to maintain and build on the safe space they have created. Additionally, the team are hoping to organise and curate events to expand on the current print and online platforms; “we are looking to create physical spaces where our featured artists can exist.” In particular, the duo are organising two exhibitions to coincide with the launch of Yellowzine’s second issue at the end of April, which will focus on photography.