Black History Month - Feb 2022 Feb 14 2022

Meet the artists

February marks Black History Month in the US, and to celebrate this month, Advocate Art is taking a moment to highlight our Black book illustrators. We caught up with our artists, Danielle Arrington, Chellie Carroll, Sawyer Cloud and Simone Douglas, to find out what Black History Month means to them, how it inspires and influences their work, and why they feel representation is so important. Keep reading the article below to find out what they had to say and see some of the wonderful projects they’ve worked on to celebrate Black History and Heritage.

What does Black history month mean to you?
Danielle Arrington:
For me Black History Month is a time to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of Black people around the world. We get to engage in the stories that make us who we are and each story gives us a more complete picture of the importance of Black history and Black culture. It’s a time for Black beauty, Black love, and Black joy! There is a wealth of creativity, ingenuity, and strength in our community and it’s important to take the time to revel in it. As an American, it's also a time to honor the men and women who were brought here as slaves and to remember the sacrifices they made and the lives they endured for me to be here and exist today. I love the quote, “we are our ancestors' wildest dreams” because even in the mundanity of our everyday lives we get to experience and accomplish so many amazing things.

What has been the most inspiring title you’ve worked on thus far?
Chellie Carroll:
I have been lucky enough to work on many inspirational titles over the passed years.  A few that have stood out for me have been the Black Stories Matters series written by J.P.Miller and contributing to the fantastic Climate Rebels by Ben Lerwell. The one book though that has stood out for me was Lily Dyu’s Fantastic Female Adventurers. I loved working on this book, as it not only appealed to my love of the great outdoors as an avid walker and climber, but also inspired me with all the amazing females from all backgrounds and all walks of life doing amazing things! I am now planning my own mini adventures!

Why is representation so important?
Sawyer Cloud:
When I was a young aspiring artist, I had no reference around me and tried so hard to find inspiration through books and the internet. Even though I was able to realise my dream of becoming a full-time illustrator, it took me years to eventually meet other artists that look like me. I had the honor to work with Black book makers and hear voices of many other artists from different cultures; I felt like I belonged. I know today that I’m more than just an artist, I’m the artist I was looking for when I was younger because I’m not only representing Black artists, I also represent those Malagasy children who have dreams, and strive to see outside the seas that surround our island.  I’ve experienced being that small child with big dreams, and I’m convinced that every child has great potential to shape the world, they just need to be seen and heard. So here I am, I’m a Black artist who comes from far. As Lupita Nyong'o says: “Every dream is valid. No matter where you come from, what your ethnicity is, you have a voice that matters. Speak your truth and embrace your individuality!”

How does your background inform the art you make?
Simone Douglas: 
I grew up watching cartoons, being a Disney fanatic and playing video games. I always found myself being drawn to the female characters that I could relate to whether they were the lead role or not. Better yet, those that looked like me! My creativity feels the most organic when I’m illustrating characters inspired by the people in my family, particularly my mother, and my closest friends in which we share a similar Caribbean heritage. It's the time I feel most connected to my artwork, and I like the idea the that someone else could see themselves in my art too.

Order of Artist photos:
Chellie Carroll
Danielle Arrington
Sawyer Cloud
Simone Douglas

If you’d like to work with any on our children's book illustrators, be sure to get in touch with an agent to discuss your project details further.