Encouraging diversity in the art world

As part of our Breaking Barriers Spotlight series we asked Jamaican-American artist, Llanakila, to create a series of illustrations depicting the themes we are focusing on throughout the series.

As woman of colour in the art world Llanakila has herself come up her own set of barriers, we caught up with her to find out her view on the issue and how diversity and inclusion in the industry could be improved.

As an artist, why is diversity important to you?

Diversity is important to me because when people come from different places and cultures they have contrasting points of views and ways of life. Not one person can have the exact same thoughts and ideas. These all play a major role into making our society- our world so unique. These diverse ideas create: new inventions, art styles, designs, advertisements, and more. Thus making the world flourish.

Illustration of a person with a rainbow pattern coming out of their head to represent mental health by Llanakila for Virgin.com

A post shared by LA-NA-KEE-LA (@llanakila) on

How could the art world be more inclusive?

It could be more inclusive by just recognising local artists and incorporating more Visual Art into branding and advertising. However, I do believe the art world is starting to be more inclusive. With the rise of social media, a lot of artists are being recognised for their hard work. It’s not just about who you know, but how much conceptual content and work you put out.

What would you like to see businesses doing differently?

I would like to see businesses highlighting local artists. For example, if a large corporation has several franchises, let the franchise hire a local artist to paint a mural, let an artist design their menu, let an artist have an art show and pay them for their genius. Most people LOVE art and it will benefit both the company and the artist.


Why is it important to encourage more artists from different backgrounds?

The world is made up of all different backgrounds, generational stories, climates, environments, and DNA. An artist from Jamaica could have a completely different style than an artist from China. We learn from them.

Read: Empathy - the hard but important skill

What could be done to encourage artists from all backgrounds?

Artists seeing other artists thrive and be successful will encourage artists.  Choose them for projects, pay them fair amount, give them something to be happy about while they are doing what they love and in return they will create unique and one-of-a-kind work.


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