Every day people are a great source of influence for the digital artist, Lambi Chibambo, who sees the world as a great way to best watch how connected we all really are. Growing up in Malawi, Lambi grew to love people-watching to gain a sense of how we act, move and interact with others. That same study of people is what reflects throughout her artwork today.
“People are so in-depth and you can go on & on if you just study people and nature.”
Initially, Lambi’s studies were not always rooted in art and she really didn’t find her artistic niche until her 12th year in school. “Traditionally I did not study art. The first time I formally did art was in grade 12. I’ve always been quite drawn to art as a means of expression.”, says Chibambo. When she grew closer to age 16, her exploration of illustration was just beginning. Lambi considers herself to be “whatever you need at the moment” instead of placing herself into a box that says “I'm a painter” or “I’m an illustrator”. She finds art as a means to explore and that through everything you do creatively, you become more and more introspective, natural and a better version of yourself.
As a new member of the BetterShared Network, we are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to dive deeper into how Lambi channels inspiration into the beautiful work that she produces. Like a lot of creative professionals, starting from a dark place is not new for Lambi. “I needed to collect myself and I didn’t know how to put that into words so I started to draw instead.. it was like a process of healing, reflectiveness and just allowing myself to kind of, be, without the expectation that I had to go and get a job or go and figure out what I had to do in life.” From there, creating for her become second nature and as easy as getting up in the morning.
“I was understanding myself and could start expressing that to other people”
Your work started from a dark place..at what point did you feel that you were ready to start sharing your art with others?
I think at the time, I started sharing with my friends..my family and friends who I was close to, and then it became a form of language for me to convey ideas and I started to share it online, Instagram was the first platform. I started to create a visual diary of my work to see where I was, and find inspiration. Instagram was the first place where I could share and engage in my work as I was going through this process of healing, but also, I was actually quite comfortable and secure with what I was doing.
What does your work aim to say?
Hmmm...that’s a tough one to answer. When I illustrate, it’s either that I am expressing or articulating what the audience is experiencing it to be. I let them take a life of their own. I hope that the work creates dialogue and that if someone feels a type of way and wants to connect further then they can.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Everyday people like friends, human-beings in general...people are so in-depth and you can go on & on if you just study people and nature. Technique-wise...it truly depends on what I’ve come across at the time. Sculptures or things that feel good or spark joy at the time.
How have you developed your career? How do you seek out opportunities?
First and foremost, the internet is a friend to all. I just share my work online and talk to people. People talk and share your work - the right people always come into your life when they are supposed to.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
Again, I would say it depends on what the work is about. Like my 'Support Your Sisters' artwork. I’d say I like to place body-positivity in most of my work. For me, most of my illustrations are of brown people...I’m still trying to understand my place in the world as a black woman. Mental health too...my friends can tell when I’m having an episode through my work. I never sit down and intentionally make a piece that will ruffle feathers...
Pictured: Lambi’s latest commission for Cosmopolitan, South Africa. Raising awareness for reproductive and menstrual health. Via @lamboflemila on Instagram
Community is important in anything that Lambi creates. When asked about her artwork raising awareness for the Queer Community, she tells us that “representation is important”, and that everyone has a place in this world and deserves to be seen. Lambi also acknowledges the importance of her hobbies outside of art, like giving back to the community through workshops and informative gatherings, music and her early study of film that continues to bring her joy.