The Mind Behind Mokshini
photography — Amandla Baraka
styling — Obi Anazodo
The sound of Afrobeat, scored just below the clogged noise of camera's flashing, steamers pumping, and heels against concrete, moved a room full of hardworking people to a solid rhythm. There were no echoes. And in the midst of this organized chaos, was Nadeesha, in the corner pocket of space between wardrobe and makeup; quietly watching and sketching. She was our wallflower for the SS2016 catalog shoot, set to illustrate the happenings. The Ralph Lauren sketch artist and mind behind the Mokshini brand, developed a series of images that not only flattered the models and the clothes, but shared her well known and well documented vision. OXOSI had the opportunity to share a moment in her AM lifestyle. Read below.
Favorite African brands — Maki Oh and Brother Vellies, for their boldness and confidence. The colors, prints, and textures they use portray as a sense of femininity and strength, but also playfulness and quirkiness. I love that.
Design to illustration — After completing a degree in fashion design, I realized my passion was illustrating garments instead! My mentor gave me that nudge to pursue fashion illustration for my Master's degree, and to this day I am very grateful for that. Being exposed to construction and pattern-making however, has made me a stronger fashion illustrator. I now understand fabrication, form, and silhouette, which has allowed me to capture garments in a simplified, more gestural manner.
Dreams to reality — I have always had a love for drawing, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be a viable career path. Drawing was only ever a creative outlet for me, and though I excelled in it during my studies in high-school, it was only after I completed my Masters that I realized, illustrating had to be a way of life for me. I loved it too much!
featured (illustration) — Bridget Awosika Green Leaf Top
Artist Vs. Illustrator — Definitely an artist, I never like pigeonholing myself. Being an artist means you experiment and evolve the potential of your work. Sure, my illustrations have a fashion flair, however, I would like to think my work transcends beyond this. I intend to create a lifestyle brand, where my illustrations grace tapestries, clothing, home goods, and accessories. To date, I have collaborated with designers on textiles and ceramics. I would love to further evolve and experiment with animation.
featured — William Okpo Navy Pope Jumper / Brother Vellies Python Sandal
Ralph Lauren — It has been a great experience being an illustrator at the company. It’s taught me to illustrate garments from a more practical standpoint. As opposed to just creating ‘pretty’ drawings, they serve a function too. The job also pushes me to work with speed and accuracy, while experimenting with various mediums like watercolor and marker, which constantly keeps me on my toes! Ralph Lauren is one of the only companies that continues to work this way, and though it may be time consuming and require a lot of ‘back and forth’ mediation, the end result is simply magnificent. There’s nothing better than seeing a room full of beautifully hand drawn illustrations, it’s inspiring.
Balance — I like to say that my real job begins when I get home at 7. Like many creatives I believe in side projects. My 9-5 keeps me sharp and technically on form; my personal work and collaborations keep me motivated and creatively stimulated. The two aspects flow together nicely and keep me extremely busy, which I like. I believe that one can always make the time. Sometimes, I squeeze a drawing session in before and after work! Many people ask me if I get tired of drawing after a whole day of it, truthfully, I’m never sick of it.
Mokshini — It’s my first name!
Platforms — Instagram is definitely (a) platform for my work. It started out being a way to encourage myself to sketch everyday and create a ‘digital diary’, however now acts as a portfolio. I try not to get caught up with ‘followers’, its too distracting. I’m a purist, I just want to perfect my craft, and let the people organically come to me. In today’s climate however, being an artist means selling yourself, and Instagram has allowed me to do this.
Following — Though I had a Tumblr account prior to Instagram, I only gained traction once I actively began posting on Instagram. I place more energy here, as it has a sense of ‘real time’, especially when it comes to videos and time lapses! I love these for when I do live drawing.
Business — Many artists don’t know how to sell themselves, and I too find myself, stepping back and realizing that I need to be more business savvy. My goal is to create a brand that expands itself into merchandising, licensing deals and major collaborations. Learning how to handle these aspects from the get go would have been extremely beneficial. I have to say though, it’s been fun figuring it out along the way too.
Advice to artist — Don’t sit around and wait for those jobs to come to you, be proactive, engage yourself with like minded people, collaborate, and create your own jobs!! Fashion illustration in not a conventional profession, and much of the time you find yourself reaching out to people and pitching ideas. You’ll be surprised how many companies are receptive.