We recently had the pleasure to style and photograph a vibrant editorial with Monica Ahanonu. She's an uber-talented artist who uses energetic, bold color to create powerful illustrations that convey strong messages. Monica's dynamic art straddles the fine lines that intersect business, art, politics, and pop culture- not an easy feat. We couldn't think of a better person to showcase our bright, colorful collection, and wanted to highlight this fellow earring-lover. Here are five questions with Monica:
What do you do?
I’m an illustrator who is obsessed with color. My various illustrated portraits and pop art make learning about people from other cultures, industries and backgrounds accessible. Typically brands come to me so that I can combine my vibrant, bold and colorful illustrations for campaigns, to spread a message or celebrate a holiday. Recent projects have included a Black History Month capsule collection with Peloton, designing the Google Doodle for Audre Lorde’s 87th birthday, and creating a custom sleeve design for Beats By Dre’s Beats Flex. You can follow my work on IG at @MonicaAhanonu
Who or what inspires you?
M: Seeing other designers work is very inspiring to me. Seeing how other people combine shapes, texture, color and pattern - in the worlds of fashion, decor and architecture. I love people watching or finding new Instagram accounts where you can see someone with a distinct personal style that is so different from my own. Seeing new silhouettes that are created by pairing different pieces together.
How would you describe your personal style?
M: Bold, vibrant, imperfect but balanced and often oversized? I love oversized jackets and tops. I also love putting things together that don’t go together, for some reason it gives me energy.
What is one of your all-time favorite vintage finds?
This is so hard I was looking through my stuff and I didn’t think I’d be able to decide because I’ve found so many neat pieces over the years. I think it would be this vibrant patterned cropped Versace jacket that I found a few years ago that I know I will never get rid of. Another random one is this dark deep turquoise oversized padded-ish jacket I found at a thrift store in North Carolina for $7. It’s shaped like a mushroom kind of, I don’t know how to explain it. I have never been able to figure out what brand it is but every single time I wear it someone asks me about it and I try so hard not to wear it literally every day. It goes surprisingly well with everything and it’s incredibly comfortable.
Who are some of your favorite designers and why?
Some of my favorites would be Thierry Mugler, Prada, Maison Margiela, Jean Paul Gaultier and Richard Quinn. I love the way Mugler does silhouettes and the contour line details on their items - their products are always so flattering on me and fit my shape well. Prada I love because they always have classic items in every category and they keep things so clean but still have an element of fun. Margiela and Gaultier both have interesting cuts on their clothing, little details that you don’t notice at first but that add a lot to the piece after you put it on. Gaultier also has patterns that seem to never get old. Richard Quinn I am a fan of because I love just seeing the over the top and oversized items he puts patterns on. Love when the pattern covers the entire body. I really want to draw some of his designs, just have to make the time!
What is an inspiring instagram account to follow?
@Marianne_Theodorsen, I am really inspired by her right now. Really really love her style.
Follow Monica's instagram account @monicaahanonu for lots of fun, colorful posts of her illustrations- we especially LOVE her recent photo recreations of iconic Grace Jones portraits!