Creative Lives — Multidisciplinary artist Linda Nwachukwu on manifesting what you want and creating meaning
Born and raised in Barcelona, multidisciplinary artist Linda Nwachukwu is now embarking on her freelance career in London. With distinct experiences as a Black woman in a predominantly white area, school, and family – Linda’s work is a visual reflection of her life. The artist’s first point of reference is her younger self, and this can be seen in her striking cartoons that take on a life of their own. Still in the very early stages of her career, Linda discusses how financial struggle and choosing to find her way without formal education have led her to where she is now. Having experienced a stint in the tourism industry, she tells us what pushed her to walk away and never look back.
Linda worked in the tourism industry before working as an artist
How are you right now and how has this period changed the way you work?
It has just changed so many things! I am a very private person and my art tends to help me channel my emotions. Every time I go through a change it impacts my work in some way. Whether I have a job or not, or I’m struggling for money – it just changes everything. This is especially the case if you’re an artist that is constantly adapting to your own perception of self in order to create. Right now, I’m trying to move homes so all of the big projects that I have in mind are all going to be delayed and all I can do now is just try and survive.
How would you describe what you do?
I am not the best at describing things, specially when it comes to my art. However, I’d say I’m a multidisciplinary artist who draws her feelings and experiences in order to cope. My process consists of writing a lot of notes – how I’m feeling, why, and solutions – saving them and then going back to see if my feelings or circumstances have changed. If what I wrote still resonates or can help in any way with how I feel in the future, I’ll probably turn it into an image. If not, I just let the idea go. It’s actually therapeutic.
When it comes to the industry, I like using my art with intention and that’s why I find it hard to work with certain people or brands. I’m looking forward to being able to just work with my Black, queer, very talented friends, and create systems that focus on putting money back into our communities.
“I’m looking forward to being able to just work with my Black, queer, very talented friends, and create systems that focus on putting money back into our communities.”
With that in mind, what would you say inspires your work?
I use my younger self as a reference for everything I create. Since I’m the person I know the most about, my illustrations tend to look like different versions of myself, usually my 10-year-old self.
In terms of my style, I get inspiration from early animation, manga and children’s books. I think those formats, including comics, give artists room to be vulnerable in a way that feels safe. I personally don’t want everyone to know what I mean with every piece and my current style has helped with that.
Eventually I want to have my own cartoon show, but I don’t have the funds to get into animation right now, so I’m starting by creating comic strips in the meantime.
“Allowing yourself to change everyday is imperative as an artist.”
Do you think it’s important to have a specific style as an artist or creative?
Styles can be a little tricky, as they can keep you from evolving. Today’s perception of what an artist should be is quite rigid. The expectation is to brand yourself and do the same thing again and again. It’s ok if what you’re trying to do is just express yourself, but allowing yourself to change everyday is imperative as an artist.
Has there been a particular project in the past year that you think has really stood out to you or helped your development?
It’s hard because every one of my projects has served a purpose. However, I would say that since I’ve been getting into acrylics I’m particularly proud of the fEar is paralysing But -! [below]. It’s an important one because I’ve never experimented with backgrounds or textures with this medium.
How I Got Here
Do you think that your upbringing influenced your career in any way?
Yeah, I was the only Black kid in my school, area, and home, as I grew up in a white household. I had a lot of time for myself due to ideological differences with everyone around me. I happened to enjoy drawing a lot, so it felt natural to invest in my creativity.
Did you go to university or college?
I didn’t. After graduating high school I ended up taking a tourism course because my family didn’t want me to study art. It lasted two years and I hated it – it was a complete waste of my time and money. I then moved to London with the plan of going to university, but things happened and I had to just work full-time.
If you’re really here for your career in the arts, then just go for it. I do think that university helps you get to places a little easier; I have to work twice as hard to get into those spaces granted to university students. It is doable though, especially if you’re not an oppressed minority.
“I have to work twice as hard to get into those spaces granted to university students.”
How important has social media been to your career?
Most of my support comes from social media. I’ve made some strong connections and met great people on Instagram. However, my relationship with social media right now is a little tense. I don’t like using it at all. I am personally trying to build myself outside of social media, and I’m doing that by putting in the time and creating bodies of work that can be enjoyed for free in a different platform.
Have you experienced any particular challenges in navigating the industry?
The challenges of navigating life as a Black womxn translate into the different areas of my life, and the industry is obviously one of them.
Beside the lessons learned from continuously experiencing racism, misogyny, fat phobia and colorism. I’ve learned that I need to step my networking game up because those who can easily do it have a bigger advantage in their careers. Being able to put myself out there and not care about what people think is something I’m working on.
“Border Control” for Limitofe Television (2020)
“Omg I’m so exhausted I wish I could fly” (2020)
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to an emerging artist or someone that wants to enter a similar line of work as you?
Trust your gut and your ability – and constantly manifest what you want to happen by writing it. Ask yourself why you do the things you do, and if there’s not a clear answer then you shouldn’t be doing it. Try to organise your thoughts and set short-term deadlines.
Don’t punish yourself. If you need to delay your creative plans and get a regular job to save, then do it. That’s what I had to do, and I don’t regret starting my career a later on. What’s yours is yours regardless.
Cover image: HOLA! (2020)