THIS IS US X GIDA: Ayanfe Olarinde



In honor of International Women's Day, THIS IS US and GIDA Journal have teamed up to celebrate African female photographers through a self-portrait series "Through Her Lens,".

The photo series features a curated selection of self-portraits and introspections, each telling a unique story and reflecting on the individuality, strength, and resilience of the woman behind the lens.



Can you share how your journey as an artist has influenced your approach to photography

Being an artist helps me see better. This has played a very important role in my photography. My selection of colors, composition, how I want my subject to interact with the space etc



When you’re shooting, you’re shooting mostly fashion. Which comes first? Your love for style/fashion or your love for photography?

Although, photography in general is an alternative medium of expression for me. I love the fluidity in fashion. I think my love for colors, geometry, life and body movement/interaction, makes it easier to work more in fashion. I’ll say that comes first. 


Everyone knows you as an artist but very few as a photographer. What would you say inspires your photography the most?

Because I’m a demonstrative person. There are things I try to say that I’d rather say with images than paintings. Photography is an alternative medium of expression for me but it comes as an alter ego. I’m inspired major by the colors of Nigeria and textures, layers and expression in general. I like to think that Nigeria herself has a sound and her colors. This is beyond the expected “green white green”, the colors of nature, of society, of the people, of pollution etc. I’m drawn to how it all takes shape, how a piece interacts with a space without having to really create a set. I’m also interested in telling stories of places and communities, juxtaposing my love for fashion or conceptual photography with spaces or faces whose story I’d maybe like to tell in photographs. Finally, photography serves as a time stamp for me. For someone who likes to document moments, I use photography as a medium to register moments to also help my memory. It also gives the opportunity to learn about my subjects and know the best ways to present them.



What drew you first to This Is Us? How do the clothes make you feel?

It was the first shirt I think I saw. It was a Funtua shirt. I think the brand had just launched at the time or it was shortly after. The color, simplicity and silhouette/style drew my eyes. For me, it was mostly these. I really didn’t know much about the brand at the time but I knew I really wanted that piece. I tried to buy it, but couldn't afford it at the time. I knew I’d eventually get it and I did.

The comfort and ease I felt is one of the reasons I’ve stayed as a customer and lover of the brand. Eventually, having a little idea what the brand is about and how the pieces are produced kept me locked in. One thing I would say is, TIU pieces make me feel even more like an artist. If I was cosplaying to be an artist or a general creative, I’d rock TIU. It comes with the sense of belonging.



Is there a difference between play and work for you? How do you draw the line and what would you say is the key to your success as an artist?

Work is sometimes play for me. I find myself experimenting more than half of the time. I think work gives me the opportunity to be a kid again. It helps me escape my own reality, fixing me in different realms or positions where I immerse myself in stories I’m telling. Although, I take breaks in between projects when it’s time to have some outside fun and socialize. I’m unable to socialize while in the middle of a body of work. I find it difficult reconnecting to work once my flow is broken. It’s not that I won’t be able to work, it just takes longer adjusting back to work mode especially because I recently found out I might have ADHD.



Born in 1996, Ayanfe Olarinde is a self-taught multimedia visual artist and photographer known for her "scribble art". In her work, Olarinde explores themes of self-image, identity formation, social constructs, collective history and mental health while probing popular culture and the inefficiencies of the government in contemporary society. A self proclaimed explorer, Ayanfe is always seeking new mediums and means of expression, and gathers inspiration from personal experiences, her immediate society, and music.  Explore her photography and art 


Ayanfe wears the Uniform wear Overshirt in Checker-box and Baggy Cargo Trousers in Ivory