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Celebrating LGBTQ+ Art: Prints by Zawedde

Prints by Zawedde was started by artist Margaret as way to stay creative under lockdown. Margaret art celebrates Black women, East Africa and the LGBTQ+ community. Check our interview to learn more!


How did Prints by Zawedde come to be?


Prints by Zawedde came about during the first lockdown in March 2020. I really didn’t actually think it would come to be a real physical company but originally it started as me wanting to stay creative whilst the world slowed down. I’m quite naturally a creative person. Being furloughed at first, I struggled with staying creative as I’m a full-time stylist. I was grateful to connect with my wacom tablet that I was gifted by my girlfriend in December 2019 and the rest kind of naturally came to be.


Your website talks about increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ women, why did you choose to do this throuhg arts and prints?


I remember creating my first ever piece that represented my identity being a Black British African lesbian woman and had a bit of a light bulb moment thinking that this is something that I don’t often see in the style of art that I’m creating, being a modern take of traditional East African artwork. From that first realisation, it became clear to me that if I’m going to continue to create artwork and this brand, I need to be making content that is personal to me - to stay loving it whilst discovering others in a community which I know are hugely underrepresented.


Walk us through your creative process, how do you come up with your designs?


So on a good day a lot of the times when I’m coming up with a design, I already have an idea of what I’m going to do in my head. This has come from inspiration of a previous print that I’ve created or artwork that resides in my house. But to be honest, a lot of the time I like to go through a research process whereby I find and discover African and Black female artists, especially illustrators, to become inspired by colour and themes.


From this, I tend to normally have a scribble and play around with one single shape. For example, the head of a female with a long Afro and I play around with that, like repeat printing [the image], before going on to complete the whole piece. The whole piece is likely to be a long exaggerated body which is often seen in Ugandan/Kenyan style art.

What is your favourite print and why?


My favourite print is probably ‘Wives Chilling’. I think that this print represents who I am - down to the pattern that I decided to use which heavily is inspired by Ugandan cloth to the 2 females in the picture, one having dreadlocks which represents my girlfriend. Although I am a bald headed girl I still have a lot of connection to the other woman in the picture standing beside her.


Greatest accomplishments and challenges as a business so far?


My greatest accomplishments would have to be being part of an exhibition in August 2020. This was for the Black History Month Westfield Stratford exhibition. I was able to showcase two of my favourite prints and have my work displayed on the digital monitors around the centre alongside absolutely amazing artists. This was crazy to me as I had started my company about six months after this opportunity came about. It allowed me to learn more about the art industry, as I’m still quite new to this, and different ways that I can network and discover different artists- which I love to do!


My biggest challenge I would say is probably not being able to give myself enough time to produce and release the amount of content I would prefer to. Honestly balancing a full-time job that still physically takes me in and out of the house can sometimes leave me feeling exhausted. Then to come back home to create art or to dedicate my weekends doing so is difficult especially as I'm also balancing freelance work on top of that as a stylist. I know that once I become an organisational queen this will hopefully not feel as daunting. I do tend to put pressure on myself to do a lot in one day. That is just not possible for one person so I just need to be kinder to myself and not overload my to do list.


What does it mean to you to be Black owned business?


I’ve always wanted to be a business owner of some sort and I am really honest in saying I never thought it would be anything like this. But honestly it feels amazing, powerful and inspirational. I think it’s really important for us to continue to see Black businesses grow. [It’s important] for Black people to not just wait for others outside our community to support Black businesses but for Black people to support Black owned businesses. Honestly there's quality in what we create and power in our buying habits.


Any advice for Black creatives or entrepreneurs?


I’m not really sure what great advice as I’m still starting out myself and need all the advice I can get. But if there’s one thing I’m learning on this journey is that not every opportunity is an opportunity you must take just because you’re a small, Black owned business. As much as I appreciate exposure and I want to collaborate with as many people as I can, remembering my intentions and the reasons for doing things is always important.


You can’t always say yes to things that don’t align with your beliefs and your vision for the sake of ‘diversity’. I think that people especially need to remember exploitation within the creative industry is especially real. So I would just say stay open but stay smart.


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