This Is Black: Octavia Mingerink, Pretty In Ink Press
Updated: Feb 23
This month, we’re starting a new series! This Is Black brings specific attention to Black creativity and artistry. With each interview, we aim to erase stereotypical imaging of Blackness by showcasing various elements of our humanity. And the first story we’re honored to share is Octavia Mingerink’s.
Mingerink is a multidisciplinary artist: printermaker, illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, and founder of Pretty In Ink Press. She has completed projects with notable clients including Simon and Schuster, MacMillan, and Penguin Random House. But, Mingerink’s passion lies within the intersection between activism and art. She works closely with community members of the city she currently resides in–Grand Rapids, Michigan–and creates art that both educates and empowers.
In the interview below, our Assistant Editor, Brooke Shannon, was able to speak with Mingerink about her creative pathway, artistic advocacy, and more.
Brooke Shannon: Describe your artistic journey.
Octavia Mingerink: My artistic journey started in Illinois where I’m originally from. I went to school at DePaul University in Chicago for anthropology and ended up switching to graphic design. After graduating, I wanted to get into fine arts, specifically the physical art of making something. I had spent so much time on the computer creating digitally that I missed getting inky. I taught myself block printing and it started from there. Fast forward to the height of the pandemic, during quarantine, I got more into digital illustration while working from home. Everything after that is a wonderful blur of amazing opportunities and even cooler book covers.
BS: When does art become advocacy?
OM: Art is always advocacy. Art is always created with a purpose. Art is made to reconnect you with the human experience.
"It's never too late to start creating."
BS: In an article for ACLU Florida, you shared that “Black joy leads to liberation and the freedom of self expression.” How does your work act as a mural for Black expression?
OM: My work is an example of the different styles that inspire something in me. One day, I am using my art for resistance and the next, I’m sculpting clay egg pals.
BS: What is your favorite book cover that you’ve designed? Why?
OM: My favorite book cover would be Science Superstars. It holds a special place in my heart as my first illustrated book!
BS: What do you hope consumers find in your work?
OM: Positivity and joy.
BS: Any upcoming projects?
OM: I’m working on a few book covers and a planner!
BS: What is something you would say to Black creatives of any age?
OM: It’s never too late to start creating.