How I was Inspired to Create Bad Girl Confidence
by Tope Eletu-Odibo
It’s been almost two years since I printed the first issue of Bad Girl Confidence, and almost three years since I launched the online platform, where emerging artists and creatives could find an audience for their work. I cannot point to one single influence that inspired the creation of Bad Girl Confidence because it was a culmination of experiences, observations, and encouragement from people around me.
From a young age, I was a collector of print media. I would cut out bold and visceral images to create a gallery on my wall. It may have looked more like the collections of a madwoman but I often imagined that I was a Vogue editor waiting to be unleashed on the world. Art was my main focus and because I was unable to pursue my own creative interests due to a lack of support from my family, I looked to champion others and their creative work. Ultimately, Bad Girl Confidence came out of my need to support, mentor, and champion creatives who, like myself, needed an advocate at a time when no one knew who they were.
Whether consciously or with intent, I have always sought out creative people from all walks of life. You will be amazed at just how innovative artists can be with their time when they are driven by a singular passion. These individual’s creativity is also made more awe-inspiring by the wealth of self-taught talent that they tap into to make their creative aspirations a reality. It was always disheartening to find that though these folks had talent, worked hard, and were filled with passion for their work, they lacked opportunities and avenues for audiences to discover and appreciate their art.
I would hear beautiful music that took painstaking hours to produce with just a few likes on Soundcloud or see an incredibly detailed illustration by a friend buried in a sea of irrelevant Facebook posts. Some of these creatives had full time jobs. Others were brave enough to pursue their art full-time but were not getting the traffic they needed. I’ve been inspired by all of the artists that I have met over the course of my life. I would retweet, repost, and blog about friends, serendipitous encounters, and unknown pieces of art that I found. The more I shared, the more I was encouraged to do so. I shared because I never wanted their work and voice to be lost in a vacuum of silence. Could one of these young artists be the next Warhol? or Vivienne Westwood? When only roughly 1% of creative voices make it into the mainstream, you see a lot of work get lost in the empty space between creation and reward.
The Empty Space
Many of my close friends and associate encouraged me to create a blog where I could collect all of the cool things that I was finding. I earned the nickname “Topedia” and “Ambassador of Cool” just based on my curiosities. Creative people were excited to have someone share their work who was just as passionate about it as they were.
Unfortunately, the mechanism for growth in the creative industry is a catch-22. The media only picks up your work if you have mass appeal but you can’t have mass appeal if the media doesn’t pick up your work. Bad Girl Confidence was inspired by this tension and the opportunity to connect creatives and their work with audiences. Additionally, there is a clear lack of diversity in the creatives that mainstream media spotlight. Most magazines, for example, primarily recognize white artists or certain sensibilities. The platforms and the voices of the writers are overwhelming male. Bad Girl Confidence must be a platform that not only links emerging creatives to a young crowd hungry for new style, talent, and art; it must also reflect the diverse creative world that I live in. A world where women are just as creative as men and artists are incredibly diverse in background and sensibilities. By showcasing a diverse creative landscape, I want to draw attention to these artists’ work so that more prominent influencers can propel them forward in their careers.
Print Media is Not Dead
Print media is an important avenue for empowering and championing emerging artists. This may be a sole opinion but there is something about printing content on glossy paper that makes it so official. People take your work seriously and you develop a reputation for professionalism. The permanence is so valuable. I can’t say that my initial goal was to print an annual magazine but it became clear that print media is not as dead as people think. Many collectors of magazines are helping to keep the craft alive.
Juxtapose magazine was one of my main inspirations in transforming Bad Girl Confidence into print. Not only because of our shared love for art but because it seemed achievable. I had only thought about keeping the magazine digital because it was easier to manage, I could update it with new articles and features more frequently than in print. Then I came across Juxtapose and some other art magazines sent over by my friend from Oakland, and I thought why not?! I write about talented people, also. They may not be celebrities or highly paid creatives but they are just as talented and work just as hard.
Where Bad Girl Confidence and Juxtapose diverge is in the type of artists that we feature. Bad Girl Confidence transformed into an opportunity to show my commitment to emerging artists. My intention was to inspire the public to take them and their work more seriously. I don’t simply portray them as starving artists or hipster creatives. Instead, they are presented as serious professionals with sought-out talent. As shy as some of these artists can be, they learn to take their craft seriously and tap into their confidence. The reaction from a creative who sees her work in a glossy paperback for the first time, featured as someone worth knowing and following, is a reaction that thrills me every time. It also inspires me to keep Bad Girl Confidence alive despite the many challenges I face to continue making my vision a reality.