When we first saw Jiji’s Superheroine Retro Chic and her Supervillainess Retro Chic Noir series on Tumblr, we knew it was necessary to talk to her about her genius drawings. They’re super cute and super fierce, a fresh take on comic book characters in amazing new outfits. Read her wisdom on fashion and self-expression below, and you can check out other superheros and comic book lady art by Jiji here and here.
Introduce yourself! Who are you and what is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Hi! I’m Jiji; owner and sole artist at MiniMenna Illustrations & Designs. I can be found on almost every social media possible: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. You can support me via my Etsy.
I’m an illustrator for hire, born and raised in Las Vegas. My prevailing objective as an artist is to bring to life the ideas and concepts of the real and fantastical. My work often features a variety of vibrant women, modern and trending fashion, cute couture, and nature themes. My favorite ice cream flavor is sea salt caramel anything! With chocolate bits. Mmm.
How would you describe your aesthetic? What are your inspirations?
My aesthetic, I’d say, is women at their most confident. My inspirations come from artists of the past (like Alphonse Mucha) to present artists (like Audrey Kawasaki, Chiara Bautista, and Babs Tarr). People who have a history or growing history of being strong visual storytellers with a connection to femininity in some way, shape, or form.
Your drawings have a definite fashion-sketch vibe. Is that something you connect with?
Yes! I have always had a grand love for fashion illustrations, and more so, their ability to translate so much information with a single stroke or shape. I both envy and admire it.
What inspired you to reimagine the superheroines/supervillains like this?
The need to create an antithesis. There’s been a grand tradition of women being defined by their clothing. So I wanted to have women that are very much known for being strong, independent, intelligent, courageous, and fierce dressed in something softer simply because that shouldn’t and wouldn’t make them any less kick butt than they are. Batgirl’s intelligence wouldn’t be impeded because she’s donned a dress, nor would Poison Ivy’s cunning, and so forth. Clothes don’t make a woman; a woman ultimately chooses what defines her.
Do you think there’s a connection between the femininity and the strength of these drawings? What does drawing them in this retro way say to you?
Absolutely. A strong sense of self, and a strong sense of your femininity, is one of the biggest strengths you can have in your arsenal as a person. Then no one can make you question who you are. My chic ladies know what they’re about! Drawing them in this retro style says to me that there is hope when it comes to learning to move beyond what clothes mean, and discovering that there’s more to a person besides what they opt to wear. People wear what makes them happy — not because they want to be labeled.
How have superheroines/supervillainnesses influenced your life and the way you think about yourself, or how do you think they could influence self-image for girls?
Superheroines and supervillainesses taught me that no matter what path I would choose to walk, I could and can make something of myself with enough determination; they taught me sheer will and strength of mind is not to be discounted. Likewise, girls — like any other person — look for themselves in everything they read and take in visually and in turn look to emulate like most young audiences do. It’s in part why Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr’s collaborative design works ingeniously. They took a design that was once bordering between functional and sexual and made it accessible — real. They made Barbara Gordon into an even more positive and well rounded superheroine young girls can look up to. We can look forward to a generation where girls want to be as smart and as powerful as Barbara Gordon.
(Images via Jiji/Minimenna)