In my corner of the blogosphere, there’s been one design and art blog holding it down from the beginning. Andrea Pippins, creator of Fly, has been sharing her vision of creative artwork and design inspirations since 2006. Her blog has personally introduced me to so many up and coming creative and fresh new aesthetic ideas, I can’t even count. Through all of these many years, Andrea remains as Fly as she wants to be.
MCB – How long have you been natural?
Andrea Pippins - It’s been 11 years.
MCB – How did you transition into being natural?
Andrea Pippins – I did the big chop.
MCB – Why did you decide to go natural? What were your reasons for the change?
Andrea Pippins – I was in college when I decided to go natural. My roommate had cut off all her hair and her courage inspired me. I stopped getting perms for a while, and then finally I just decided I was going to do it. So one August day in 2001 I went to a barbershop and had the barber cut it all off. I wore it low like that for several months before growing it out. This was all before the natural hair boom on the web so I didn’t have many resources for styles and products, which might’ve worked in my favor because I know I would have been overwhelmed with info. I just explored playing with my hair and found a rhythm that really worked for me. I loved being natural (and still do).
MCB – How did your friends and family react when you decided to become natural?
Andrea Pippins – Everyone was very supportive and loved my new look.
MCB – Did the attention you receive change once you went natural? Did you find anything peculiar happening?
Andrea Pippins – When my hair grew out I would get it blown out for trims and the attention I got (usually younger guys) was different than when I would rock a twist-out or twists (more older guys or guys with locks would check me out). There was this overwhelming amount of interest in non-blacks to touch my hair. A classmate in grad school grabbed my hair with both hands one time and was like, “wow, it’s soft.” I kept my cool but I really wanted to go off on her. Last year, my twist-out was scanned by the TSA at the airport, that was really bizarre!
MCB – Now that you’re a natural, what’s the relationship (if any) between your hair and your art?
Andrea Pippins – My first series, I Love My Hair, was inspired by own experiences and/or feelings I had when I decided to go natural. But the prints that came after was simply me wanting to create more of what I didn’t see; I was not thinking about my hair or the relationship with my hair — but just wanting to present another perspective of black women.
MCB – Tell us about your artwork.
Andrea Pippins – My artwork is a direct response to what I don’t see when I go to art shows, craft fairs, or open design/illustration magazines. I don’t see enough art or designs that reflect experiences of people of the African Diaspora, or people of color in general. My life is culturally rich, from the food I eat to the friends I have in my circle — but I have a hard time finding affordable art that reflects that. So I create what I don’t see. The styles vary, but always captures women of color in their beauty and glory, and in some ways responds to the natural hair conversation.
MCB – Are there any artists who tend to focus on the themes of hair that you admire?
Andrea Pippins – Lorna Simpson and Ellen Gallagher are two artists I admire who speak about identity, and have also explored our relationships with hair. I’m drawn to their process, and the mix of materials they use in their work. I love collage but struggle with it, so I admire what Ellen Gallagher is able to produce with her mixed media creations. Lorna Simpson also mixes mediums, but there is something very quiet and mysterious about her approach. Her collages and drawings have a beautiful simplicity to them, her photography, too.
MCB – What are some of your favorite hair products that you use?
Arts integrator, curator, culturist and designer Maya-Camille Broussard began The MCB Project as a web series documenting interior design projects inspired by pieces of art. As the owner and curator behind Chicago’s Three Peas Art Lounge, Maya-Camille Broussard made viewing and collecting art less intimidating. The MCB Project was created after a couple decided not to purchase a work of art from Broussard’s gallery because it didn’t match their couch. Since launching The MCB Project in 2012, Broussard’s blog has expanded to include additional genres in the arts and culture including film, literature, culinary arts, fashion, product design, travel and more. Broussard focuses on a lifestyle richly embedded in the arts and culture. Broussard is a graduate of Howard University (B.F.A.) and Northwestern University (M.A.)