Uncensored and unrestricted voices with Oreoluwa Ayoade

Oreoluwa Ayoade was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He moved to the UK at the age of 10, where he got his first computer, which he says played a huge part in his interest in design. He’s now a graphic designer at a creative agency in London as well as creative director of Yellowzine.

‘I’ve always been a fan of aesthetics and would always try to think of ways to make things better, from re-imagining shoe silhouettes or colours to thinking of tweaks that could be made to shop signs. I think my first taster of actual graphic design was back when MySpace was popping and I was the guy who did custom layouts for everyone. For years after that I created things that followed my instinct for what looked and felt ‘right’. I then decided to study design to have a better grasp of why things look good and approach my work with a more informed understanding.’

How do you spend your time creatively? 

Well I’m actually a full time designer but I try to do other creative things (such as the magazine) outside of that. Other things that I enjoy filling my spare time with include photography, music (both discovering new things and trying to play/make things up). For me creating things is a fun little game where anything’s possible, the challenge is honing in on something you think is the perfect answer.

Where did your love of design come from? 

I think the first time I had a fascination with how something looked was when I was a kid living in Lagos, we’d go to see my mum at work – she worked in the airport at the time. I remember I always used to go to the part of the airport where you could get a good view of the planes and spend hours staring at them. I think the fixation initially came from how they actually work.

People who move countries can often feel a sense of displacement – is this something you have experienced?

Although I can understand why some people may feel that way, I personally don’t feel this displacement because I try as much as I can to feel at ‘home’ both in the UK and Nigeria – understanding that I may not completely ‘fit in’ in either, but also knowing that there are plenty of people in the same boat.

In your own words, what inspired you to start Yellowzine?

Yellowzine was started by my sister and I shortly after I started working as a graphic designer, while she was finishing her studies. I’ve always been a big fan of magazines, and an even bigger fan of magazines with purpose. We’d always known about the lack of diversity in the visual arts industry, but never quite understood to the extent of it till we got more exposure to the industry itself. We wanted to create a platform for POC visual artists to express themselves boundlessly, championing the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’ and not necessarily focusing on racially motivated work.

What do you want readers to take away from each issue?

It depends on the reader really. For aspiring artists, we’d love them to be inspired, maybe find a new fave. For businesses and commissioners, we want the magazine to act as a directory to them, like a book of mini portfolios to refer to. For people who just have a love for beautiful art work, we want them to get lost in it.

What do you look for in the artists you choose to feature?

We’re quite easy with our selection process. It’s just as simple as having good work. Of course some of the artists are more experienced/skilled than others but we welcome creators of all skill levels. As long as the vision translates and the work is popping, you’re in.

What does it mean to you to provide a voice to mixed race or artists of colour?

All our artists already have voices, amazing ones at that. What we do is provide spaces for their voices to echo and bounce off the walls of the contemporary art world. We encourage uncensored and unrestricted voices through art. We want our artists to express their many dimensions through their work and feel they can exist in a publication that doesn’t pigeon hole them. We’re still working hard to be where we want to be and make the level of impact that we aim to make in terms of supporting artists beyond the publication, but we’re loving the journey so far.

What are your future plans for the zine?

Being as young as we are, (it was our first birthday in October, woo!), we’re really excited for Yellow’s potential. We’d love to expand beyond the magazine alone and have it as an accompaniment to a larger organisation/agency/exhibition programme etc. But the logistics of this are still scribbled in a notebook somewhere waiting for more time and money. So, if any wants to invest in us our DMs/emails are open! Check out yellwzine.bigcartel.com and follow @yellowzine.

Up next, Beyond boundaries with London artist Gemma Hewson.

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