African-American natural hair sure is all a buzz lately. With the release of Chris Rock's Good Hair, and the chatter over Allison Samuels' article about Baby Zahara's hair on Newsweek.com it might appear to be a new topic but in fact it's something that's been talked about most of my life. Whether it was in the beauty salon or over coffee with friends a conversation never goes by about some celebrity's new weave, the need of a new hairstyle, or the general question: to be or not to be natural.
Ever since I've gone natural, almost a decade ago, I've noticed more and more women embracing their coils and deciding to take that journey themselves. Now, there is so much information out there to help women do so. I wish all these fabulous natural hair blogs, sites, and magazines, were around when I was debating with my own going-natural decision. It's so wonderful to see this revolution of self-love and self-acceptance. All this helped inspired I Love My Hair.
Back in the summer of 2008 I was trying to think of a project for my thesis class. I knew I wanted to do something with and about naturally coily hair but I had no idea what it would be and how it would translate into a design project. During my research for the project I saw a documentary about the Black hair care industry by Aron Ranen. I was blown away to learn Black women spend billions of dollars on products that are extremely toxic and permanently damaging to the scalp and hair. On top of that only a small portion of that money is going back to the community.
Okay, so this was interesting and helpful but I didn't want to do a project based on those negative elements. Instead of protesting bad business, products or ideals of straightening hair I wanted to promote self-love and appreciation for those delicate little coils that grow out of our heads. So for my project I created I Love My Hair, a campaign to showcase those positive elements of being/going natural hoping that by doing so it would motivate others and industry to follow suit.
The project included a mock website and a welcome package for those who joined the campaign, but the meat of the whole thing was the posters. These images were created with personal messages women might express once they realize how gorgeous and amazing their hair is naturally.
Once I developed the concept I started looking for inspiration on how I wanted these images to look. I collected photographs of natural hairstyles, looked at how other artists interpreted hair, and since I knew I wanted the message to be in the hair I also looked at a lot of hand-lettering that had some curly/coily elements. Then I just sketched. I made small thumbnail versions, scanned them in, blew them up, retraced them with tracing paper and so on. Once I configured the lettering I had to choose a color palette. I wanted something bold and bright and I wanted those colors to sit nicely on the brown of the paper, which represented the skin. Meanwhile I had to create a logo for the campaign. To me the statement "I Love My Hair" expressed everything about the images and the messages they were trying to convey. With that I designed a logo that spoke back to the same lettering I used for the hair.
I loved working on this project because it was so personal and special to me in so many ways. When I shared the posters on Fly and received such positive feedback from all of you it felt even more special. So after much work, time and patience they will finally be available for purchase Monday, November 16th at noon. I am so excited to open up the I Love My Hair shop and hope that those of you who make one (or some) your own will love them as much as I did designing them.Thanks again for all your continued support. See you Monday!