Princess Karibo's Art Celebrates Diversity in Children's Literature
Princess Karibo's Art Celebrates Diversity in Children's Literature

Princess Karibo's Art Celebrates Diversity in Children's Literature

The fight for representation has become a central focus of many news stories and public discussions. From the Black Lives Matter movement to the push for greater diversity in Hollywood, this societal topic has become more pronounced than ever.

In this time when representation matters more than ever, one artist uses her talent and passion to make a difference. Princess Karibo, a self-taught Nigerian animator and illustrator, is creating waves in children`s literature as an artist showcasing the beauty and diversity of Black culture. Her story testifies how art can promote social change and how passion can be channelled into purposeful action.

Photo: Illustration by Princess Karibo for Harold Green’s “Love Bubbles”

Drawing from Personal Experience

Karibo`s journey into illustration and artwork was driven by a desire to see more Black characters in children`s books and media.

She explains, "Growing up, I rarely saw characters who looked like me in the stories I loved. I want to ensure young Black children don`t feel that same exclusion today”.

Determined to change this narrative, Karibo taught herself illustration, honing her skills through practice and experimentation. Her unique style, characterized by vibrant colours and intricate details, created artworks that brought inspiring and touching children`s stories to life.

A Glimpse at Karibo’s Art

Karibo`s meticulous illustration technique focuses on the subtleties that bring authenticity to her characters.

"I try to capture the essence of who these characters are, their joys, their struggles, and their triumphs. I pay attention to make every detail as realistic as possible and push the story forward”, she explains.

For example, as part of the Know Your Hairitage series, Karibo was behind the illustrations of Zenda Walker’s stories Zion`s Crown and Zara`s Wash Day, which celebrate the diversity of Black hairstyles and encourage young readers to take pride in their natural hair and heritage.

Karibo shares that drawing the illustrations for those stories was fun, as she had to study different Black hairstyles and appreciate the beauty of each.

She adds, “It takes me back to my childhood and how my mother styles my hair. I imagine children seeing these hairstyles and smiling as they feel a sense of pride and belonging even through images”.

Photo: Illustration by Princess Karibo for Zenda Walker’s “Zion`s Crown”

The artist’s attention to detail enhances the visual appeal of her work and deepens the emotional connection between the characters and the readers.

She shares, "I want my work to be a mirror for Black children, reflecting their beauty and potential. I want them to view themselves as the heroes of their own stories, capable of achieving anything they set their minds to".

Aside from her artworks for children’s books, Karibo champions Black beauty through other art forms, such as digital art, watercolour, and gouache paintings. On her Instagram page, Karibo showcases a multitude of faces of beautiful Black women — sporty or feminine, each with different hairstyles, fashion, and makeup.

The Power of Purposeful Art

Karibo recognizes that her work in children`s literature is only a small part of the larger fight for equal representation. She understands that the issues of diversity and inclusion are complex and multifaceted, requiring efforts across various sectors and industries to create lasting change.

However, the artist also believes that every contribution, no matter how small, can significantly impact the greater goal of a more inclusive society.

“It starts with empowering the children. We do not know how this can encourage them to dream big and achieve greater heights for their future”, Karibo mentions. 

Photo: Illustration by Princess Karibo for Zenda Walker’s “Zara`s Wash Day” 

The artist dedicates herself to this fight, knowing that her art can touch hearts and minds and inspire others to join the cause. Through her illustrations, Karibo provides a much-needed representation of Black children. She challenges dominant narratives and creates space for new stories.

Karibo’s work inspires and challenges. Her illustration for Harold Green’s book Love Bubbles teaches readers to dig deep and believe in themselves, as this has the power to bring change to their communities. 

"My goal is not just to create Black characters but to tell stories that resonate with the experiences of Black children. It`s about ensuring they feel recognized, appreciated, and significant", Karibo asserts.

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