Kazvare Made It on the Power of Illustration and Creating Laughter out of Trauma

In times that often feel overwhelming and stressful, all of us need a laugh every now and then; but where do you go when you want to take a breather and still stay informed? Kazvare Made It.

A creative illustration brand that sells greeting cards and wrapping paper with a twist, KMI is the brainchild of Kazvare, a designer/illustrator. With a following of over 19,000 on Instagram, and collaborations with Adidas and the Tate under her belt, Kazvare is the go-to for illustrations that present trending topics in a comical, informative manner.

The Lauryn placemat

“Kazvare Made It is all about combing cultural references and influences in a way that is bold, colourful and with a huge dash of playfulness”, she tells me. Kazvare explains that she’s loved drawing since she was a child and has always wanted to be an artist; but her trajectory into the world of illustration, is unfortunately similar to that of many Black women in any career path.

“There are expectations, limitations and assumptions placed on what I like and how I should navigate the world because of my Blackness and my female-ness”. Despite this, she has been going strong for over 5 years, selling her work at events like Afropunk, and working with Labrum London on their SS20 collection. She explains that both her content and products are from the same source: wanting to create work “that responds to pop culture and current affairs with an injection of truth and humour”. Whether it’s the reimagining of the Obamas notebook or the plantain poster, KMI is a brand that perfectly encapsulates the Black worldwide experience in a way that does us justice and speaks to our reality.

“A picture is worth a thousand words… so there’s an accessibility there that I’m sure people gravitate towards. Also, there is a mistrust of many media organisations, so people try to look for their news sources in other places”.

For so long, Black history has been reduced to the evils of slavery, and our trauma at the hands of a racist society; but more and more platforms are devoting themselves to sharing stories of Black joy and Black creativity. KMI’s recent series #BlackHistoryOuttakes, is a celebration of the men and women who are responsible for some of the most important inventions we use, including the hairbrush and doorknobs.

Alexander Miles, inventor of elevator doors

“There are so many inventors, I’ve discovered, that created amazing tools that never get the recognition they deserved when they were alive. Their stories are often not told, so it’s important that we speak of them”.

“I see what I am doing as a small way of giving many of them their flowers”, Kazvare adds.

Scroll down the @kazvaremadeit Instagram, and you’ll see the many posts dedicated to the hidden figures who’ve made lasting impact on our world. Scroll further downand you’ll see satirical illustrations of moments that have opened the floodgates for racist and xenophobic rhetoric. From the constant defence of the‘All Lives Matter’ community, to the ignorance of the British to their racism, no moment has been left untouched and her hilarious content is a necessary tool of laughter for many who otherwise would be crying.

“It’s not always easy to create when it feels like the world is burning all around you! I’ve also been aware of the need to create content that is also a bit lighter to provide a small bit of escapism”, she tells me.

Ultimately, she says, she just wants people to feel one thing when they buy her products and see her work. “In the next five years, I want to still be creating content that brings me joy and others too”.

You can buy items here, and follow her here.

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