By Rebecca - 31st July 2020
Kemi Anna: “If you don’t like it, make it better and
It’s hard not to be inspired by a portfolio that spans design, music, and fashion industries. The images and photoshoots featured on kemiaadeeko.com are warm, eclectic, vibrant, and spotlight individuals of all shades and shapes — a testament to the revolutionary heart that is behind it all.
With names such as Apple, Vogue, and PAUSE under her belt as previous clients, Kemi Anna Adeeko’s journey as a multi-hyphenate creative is an enviable one. Whilst pursuing her degree in Advertising and Brand Design at Ravensbourne University London, she has started her own business offering all-natural curly hair care products, founded the student-led collective Nuff Said LDN (shortlisted for the 2020 D&AD Side Hustle / Emerging Professional Award), and worked as a freelance art director and stylist for a range of independent and commercial brands.
“When you put a bit of yourself in the work you create or you take insight from
real people opening up, your work is more impactful and real.”
Exchanging personal stories and experiences feature heavily in Kemi’s work. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a project of hers that lacks an intriguing backstory, or fails to reflect her drive and passion for social change.
Her Christian faith, cultural background as British-Nigerian, and experiences as a female creative, are all aspects of her identity that have influenced the way she creates. Many of her projects have a focus on empowerment and celebration — in particular, fellow Black and female artists — and she actively campaigns to increase awareness and fairer access to platforms for these marginalised voices to be heard.
Storytelling has always been an important tradition in many communities, and it is with a determined powerhouse like Kemi that this practice continues travelling and dismantling the past — conversations around the hearth that truly illustrate the diversity of colour that we have always experienced, but goes largely unrecognised.
Up next, Kemi speaks to her identity, the evolution of her creative practice, and some of the challenges and obstacles of finding her space in the industry.
The full scope of what you do - what does that look like on a day to day basis?
On most days I’m putting together treatments for videos and mood boards... whether that be for music video, editorials or more recently documentaries. Other days involve post production… , but shoot days are my favourite because you see your vision come to life.
How does feeling seen resonate with you? And when was the first time you felt seen in the creative industry?
I’m not sure if I’ve felt completely seen. I think I’ve felt seen as a creative when my work is appreciated but in terms of being represented –I’m yet to see a black fat woman on screen who isn’t ‘the before’ or a joke. Just a beautiful woman who is carefree and taken seriously.
Have you noticed an evolution over the course of your work? How have you evolved?
Oh most definitely. I’ve gone from wanting to create things that look nice to creating things that address social issues and telling stories for underrepresented communities.
“Something I say to myself everyday - It’ll be worth it, eventually.”
How did you build your skillset, did you pursue an education in this creative field?
Internships! Getting on to every set I possibly could and being around different types of creatives… But the biggest help has honestly been internships and creating as much as I possibly can. It’s been 5 years of me figuring out what I want to be doing.
Looking back over your life, what have been other pivotal moments where, looking back on them now, you understand that they shaped who you are today?
[University] has definitely been pivotal because I’ve met and become friends with the most amazing creatives. Creating with my first artist Shamiya Battles with another creative Paul (@paulyywaulyy) confirmed what I wanted to do. Finally starting the collective Nuff Said LDN showed me creating can really push real change and that was an inspiration.
Who and what do you turn to for advice and/or inspiration?
This is mad corny but Beyoncé is definitely one. She’s a creative genius who creates nothing but excellence. My parents in terms of work ethic as I definitely learnt to drive from them. Also a weird one is bodies, especially female bodies. They’re so beautiful and different and give me creative inspiration.
When was the first time you remember seeing yourself?
Back in the day watching akeelah and the bee.
What does feeling seen mean to you?
To be represented and to be understood.
As a person of colour, how do you see the energy evolving for creators of colour within the industry?
Creatives of colour are so lit it doesn’t even make sense! There’s a part of homecoming by Beyoncé where she talks about us having ‘too much damn swag’ and that’s how I feel. We’ve made our own mainstream and I’m not mad at that.