Interview with photographer & graphic designer Jada Giwa by Apolluss
A: Can you tell us a bit about Jada, if you had to describe yourself, what words would you choose?
JG: I don't know. I find it quite hard to describe myself because I don't want to sort of put myself into one thing. I like to think of myself as many things. I'm quite a lively person. I like to be sunshine and make people smile and make people feel good. If I'm in a bad mood, I like to sort of put that behind me and walk out of my house and not think about that. If I walk into a room, I want everyone to be in a good mood. All good vibes. So yeah, quite a lively person, energetic and sunny. Jada as a creative, I would say multidisciplinary and I think that word gets chucked around quite a lot but at the same time that is probably who I am. I've never really felt fully comfortable saying that I am just a photographer or I'm just a graphic designer. I think all aspects of art and design are so important and trying to feed different parts of it into your life. It makes you a well-rounded creative and having insight into different practices and having an appreciation, not even as an insight, an appreciation for all the arts is so important.
A: Same, I have been having this conversation recently with people and I have realised that I care about creating, the medium in which I create is more a form of communication.
JG: It differs, right? You do everything if you want to do everything, but like, don't feel you have to. I just want everyone, including myself – I'm kind of also talking to myself – to just do what you want to do. You can just do whatever.
A: What do you think about the current state of the Manchester arts, music and creative scene?
JG: I've always been a huge fan of Manchester. I was talking to Fiona (KERB store manager) earlier like, I fucking love this city. I love the people in it, the people make it. They make the city. I think that is a lot behind the reasoning why it's on Time Outs' top cities to live in because of its people and the community.
A: Yeah, behind Amsterdam.
JG: See you read the article as well. Yeah and that's because we have an amazing community and people are just so genuine and rather than it being a dog-eat-dog world, you just want to help the lives of others. I think people in Manchester understand that when you give you are also receiving. You need to be able to pour from your cup and people will pour into your cup as well. I think a lot of people would say the community but it's just like if I'm saying what everyone else is saying, it is because it's true. You know. Like if other people feel that it's real, then it is. I love the city, I call it my home now. I'm so proud to be able to live in this city and that the people of Manchester accept me, as an outsider (southerner), into their homes.
A: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a multidisciplinary creative, how did you end up there?
JG: I have got great creative influences, my dad is into fashion and he has always been creative, and I have always admired him. Even though we are not as close, I have always looked up to him and what he was doing. I think that’s why I have my fashion photography side but my passion for photography probably stemmed from school. That's why I am so grateful for teachers, and I think that teachers are so important because they really can change the way you think about a subject. I was so grateful to have my teacher Mrs Bowden, shout out Mrs Bowden. My dad, even though having a fashion background, wanted me to be an investment banker but I didn't get the grades. Photography was my backup. I don’t think that he is happy about that but I mean, it was meant for me because it is what I am doing now. I was just really inspired by my teacher who made me fall in love with the subject.
A: What inspires you to create in the way that you do?
JG: The main thing that inspires me is people, I am a people person, I love all kinds of people. If you are a bit quirky, or weird, I probably won't think you are weird, I would just think that you are a human being. I accept all kinds of people from all different walks of life. I like being able to capture their personalities or screamtheir personality in a photo, in something that is still. I think for me the process of actually capturing the image is so, so precious to me. I like to be able to connect with a model. It is all the process that inspires me and connects me with others when it feels natural. That goes with why I only tackle projects which are drawn to me or I feel drawn to them because I would want to do anything that feels forced, or static or it just doesn't sit well with me. It needs to resonate with me.
A: KERB prides itself on displaying a diverse selection of labels on their wine, if you were a bottle of wine, what would you taste like and how would your label look?
JG: I think the actual bottle would be curvaceous, not because I am curvaceous but because it would have a quirky shape. Only because I think I have different dimensions to myself, I can see different angles and see different perspectives. I like to see different points of view so I would like to reflect on the actual physicality of the bottle. In terms of taste, I am liking the orange wine. I think I would be an orange wine. Again, I feel it's about finding some in between, creating some balance, it gives us balance. Maybe a bit of fizz as well, back to me being lively, I have a lot of energy to give out as well. The design would be bright, something orange or yellow, bright colours. It has got to stand out somehow, whatever it needs to do to stand out. If all of the bottles have got patterns then mine has to be the one with the plain bold colour, or vice versa. It has just got to stand out. Yellow is my colour. I said sunny, I feel like I want to have a sunny personality. I want to brighten people's days. Make people feel good because you never know what people are going through at the end of the day.
A: Are there any other artists/creatives in Manchester that you would like to utilise this opportunity to spotlight?
JG: I’d spotlight Akemi Fox (@akemifoxx), she’s my friend. I am not saying that just because she's my friend, like, she's similar to me in the sense that she's an overthinker, and she doesn't need to be. I know that when she stops overthinking, she'll take off, and she's so talented, and she's got an incredible voice, she's going to be going places.
A: For me, when you connect with someone, you keep them close. We live in a world where it is rare that you meet people with whom you fully align.
JG: That is what I said about the community, it is genuine, and you can feel it.
A: Do you ever feel pressure as a creative to create at a certain pace?
JG: Oh definitely. I think that social media is about, and I go straight to social media because that really is the answer, for me, anyway. I think with most people, it is like, you are comparing yourself, but for me, it has nothing to do with wanting (to be) that person. Why am I not doing what they are doing? It is more like, should I be doing this? Or should I be creating something every single day? You are on your path, and as much as someone else tells you this, you do need to learn that for yourself, and I guess that is just it, it is one of those things that comes with practice, and it comes to probably with age and time, but it is just being comfortable with your own pace and knowing what works for you.
A: It is a highlight reel.
JG: Exactly. You need to be conscious of that every time you are scrolling through it, rather than, you know, looking at it to fill a void, you are looking at it because you want to be inspired or you want to be supportive, and only that, rather than comparing yourself. I love going on Instagram and seeing what my friends are doing and being like, yeah, that is sick because that is what it should be.