There’s something wonderfully inspirational when you find someone beating the odds, doing what she loves, and being successful at it. Meet Peniel Enchill, the brilliant, talented and beautiful illustrator whom the world must make a note to check out. You might remember her from her daring New Year’s Eve illustration that took Instagram and Twitter by storm.
For those who may not know her, she was born and raised temporarily in Ghana, and at 12, moved to the UK with her family. She attended DeMont Fort University in Leicester, where she graduated with a first class honors degree in business management and economics. And then she went down the Fashion lane, getting her master’s in International Fashion Retail from the University of Manchester. Her art is regarded as ‘Afropolitan,’ influenced by various West African artists such as Aisha Ayensu of Christie Brown, Deola Sagoe (Nigerian haute couture fashion designer), Andrea Iyamah (custom couture & swimwear) and Kobe Adu (Illustrator and Fashion Designer). Peniel’s a definite pleasure to be with and the Lala can’t be happier to interview with her today. All of you inspiring creatives, listen up!
the Lala: When did you start illustrating?
Peniel: I have always illustrated. I mean, from as long as I can remember, I always doodled. And these were never flowers, or cars, or houses. They were always females in pretty dresses.
the Lala: Yes, we noticed that all your illustrations feature strong, elegant women in pretty dresses. Tell us more about this recurring theme. From where do you draw your inspiration for your style and content?
Peniel: My illustrations are very personal. I don’t know if a lot of people realize this. I sketch situations or characters I feel connected with. For example, I drew my graduation illustration when I was about to graduate. I drew my long-distance relationship illustration during that phase in my life. I still draw my bridal illustrations because I love all things wedding! So they’re very personal and I draw inspiration from my life and experiences.
The Lala: What sort of struggles did you face when you decided to become an artist? I just read an article that says that the creative industry is still largely a male-dominated field. What’s it like to compete as a woman? Have you had any struggle getting gigs or sponsorships?
Peniel: Well, I would say the decision to become an artist is not one that is set in stone, yet. I’ve always done it alongside something. I used to do it while getting a master’s. So it was never a full time career choice, until recently.
Family always wants the best for you, and there aren’t many female artists, or heck, artists in general from Ghana. They are very far and few between, so I came to understand the hesitation I get from family and friends.
You’re definitely right about art being a very male-dominated career, but gender has never actually been an excuse to not go for what I want. I do get quite a number of commissions, but I only recently started focusing on illustration as a full time craft. It’s a lot of hard work keeping up especially doing this on my own. But I’ve gotten so much positive response from social media, and that has helped to keep me going. I also remind myself everyday that nothing good comes easy.
the Lala: What kind of things have you done to improve your techniques? Did these things help you become the success you are today?
Peniel: I do a lot of research. I’m always researching new illustrators, keeping up to date with my old favorites and constantly learning from them.
The Lala: There was an illustration of yours that was trending around New Year’s. Can you tell us more about it and what you were hoping people would get from it?
Peniel: I simply illustrated what I do every year. I’m big on New Year’s resolutions, whether they are fulfilled at the end of the year or not. It’s never a bad thing to want to change or make your life better some way or another. Some people responded positively to it, others didn’t. I guess that’s usually how it goes, right?
the Lala: What do you do when you’re not sketching/illustrating? Hobbies?
Peniel: I love cooking and following up on series! My two current favorites are Project Runway and MasterChef US. They represent my two favorite things: fashion and food creation. I consider myself an introvert. I keep to myself and I enjoy my own company. I really treasure my personal time.
the Lala: What’s the next step for you?
Peniel: The Golden question! I’d love to tell you I’ve figured it out but that’d be a lie. I know I’d be starting my PhD soon while continually building and learning from my brand.
the Lala: Any advice for college women in the creative world? Many people tell them to give up their dreams because the artist life can be a bit of a struggle. Is there an experience from your life from which college ladies can draw inspiration?
Peniel: Don’t give up! As cliché as that sounds, that really is just it. I can’t imagine myself going through life not doing what I love. Nothing good comes easy, so if you’re really willing to work for it, trust God and keep at it. However, if you’re not willing to fight for it, you really are wasting your time.
And guess what? She now has her art featured on iPhone cases and they’re gorgeous. Take a look and make sure to get one!