Meet Joelle Avelino, one of the artists creating beautiful work to support our DR Congo Women's Coffee Project Campaign.

Joelle Avelino is a talented Congolese and Angolan illustrator, originally from London. After studying Illustration with Marketing at the University of Hertfordshire, she went on to specialise in Illustration and Animation and has since gained significant experience for various publications. Having previously worked with the Panzi Foundation supporting their charity, we knew Joelle was the perfect person to help us create something beautiful for this coffee.

Q: Run us through how you became an artist — was it something you always aspired to or did it take a while to get here?

A: I’ve always studied an art discipline but I never knew I was going to do this professionally. I studied Illustration with Marketing at University; after graduating and working in marketing for three years, I realised that’s not what I wanted to do.

Having always continued drawing and painting in my spare time, I started putting my work on Instagram when I landed my first editorial commission. This was around 5 years ago and I really started pushing my career since then; through to now, being a full-time artist.

Q: One of the reasons we were so excited to work with you was the fact you were a London-based female artist with Congolese heritage, plus we loved your art too. Did this connection influence your creative process on this particular project?

It very much did yes, I’m constantly inspired by my heritage. Congolese women especially — those that I know personally and those I admire from a distance; their resilience and the joy they radiate. From when I was a young girl I’ve always been in love with the flamboyant pagnes that they often wear for all different occasions. This was something I made sure was reflected in my Artwork.

Q: You have more than one connection to this campaign. You mentioned you’ve been supporting the Panzi Foundation for years now — how did you first get involved with supporting them?

Dr Denis Mukwege, the founder of Panzi, is my real-life hero, literally. The work that he does treating and caring for women in Congo that have been brutalised by war is just phenomenal. It was through him that I was introduced to Panzi and started supporting them about 10 years ago. 

To see more of Joelle's work, visit her website or follow her on instagram.