VIBE Vixen: Khia! Jackson VIBE Vixen: Khia! Jackson

Vixen Initiation: Commercial Artist Khia! Jackson

With her eye for vivid color and bold, declarative elements that inspire future vision, it’s no wonder that Khia! Jackson has become an in-demand designer for a host of fashion houses and creative agencies. This Caribbean daughter and technicolor mastermind has created a slew of iconography for clients like Azzuré, Heatherette, Disney, Rocawear, Jordache, and VIBE Magazine. Plus, she’s been one of the primary go-to people for pop powerhouse Beyoncé and her domain of brands. In addition to working as head graphic designer for the Deréon and House of Deréon labels, Khia! recently created t-shirt concepts for Ms. Knowles’ “Move Your Body” anthem as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move" program.

With a willingness to explore a variety of mediums as she opens up her own studio in Atlanta, Khia! has just produced the innovative webisode series Drawn Out with media house Visually Inklined; the pilot, featuring rapper Joell Ortiz, is set to launch next month on VIBE.com.

Vixen spoke to this accomplished entrepreneur about her history, her philosophies on art vs. design, and what it takes to run your own business.

When did you first start to draw? What was the feeling like holding pen or pencil in hand and creating?
I first began drawing when I was about 4 or 5. My family and I were in the Caribbean. I had an art teacher who taught us students how to make a palm tree with coconuts and two humps at the base for sand. I became obsessed with that little drawing, making it over and over. It was on and popping from that moment on. For all creative people, I feel like there’s a compelling force that pushes you to make something. For illustrators, your pencil is your vehicle. It’s like pouring lime juice through a sieve and making lemonade.  Something natural and raw on one side becoming something tasty and sweet on the other.

Beyoncé in Let's Move t-shirt designed by Khia! Jackson

Beyoncé in Let's Move T-shirt designed by Khia! Jackson

What made you decide to go into design as a career?
I love that design is commercial. It's not elitist. It’s art that allows you to speak to broad audiences with the most varied materials. Fine art often focuses on the artist’s life and perspective, whereas design is speaking directly to an audience. When you design a chair, it needs to be comfortable, it needs to be attractive, it needs to fit the person’s body… it always has to appeal to a group of people. Design always has to appeal in function to a larger audience than fine art. People use design. They sit on it, use it to open their cans. Even if I do a piece that’s considered art, it’s always commercial, for the masses.

Speaking of the divide between art and design, you have a whimsical illustration style yet you're also able to come up with elegant designs, a la your logo for Déreon. How are you able to exist in both worlds?
[Laughing.] Well, when I design for myself, things do get pretty pop, that's true. But when you design for a client, you’re meeting their needs and speaking to their audience, so you translate your skills to do just that. It's not as difficult as you would imagine.

Are there any artists or designers you would name as influences?
I'm influenced by Karim Rashid, Insa, Banksy,  Alexander McQueen, Roy Lichtenstein, and Archie comics.

What are the rewards and challenge of being an entrepreneur?
Working for yourself gives you a freedom that’s hard to walk away from once you've had it. I can take the day off when I want to and know I still have job. I can prioritize my work vs. my life more than an employee can. But you also have to steer your own ship, meaning you have to market yourself and manage your own time and the people that work for you. The pressures of the business are all mine to navigate and there’s no clocking out.

What advice would you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a design career?
Your relationship with people is key. Every major job I've gotten is because someone not only liked my work, but also liked me as a person.  In the creative world, that's rare and valuable. Also make sure that all legal agreements protect your interests—especially if they were generated by your client. Shoot for extended contracts; building new relationships takes time and money. And don't be afraid to align yourself with someone who can do the things you don’t do well. I woke up one day and realized that I'm a big old softie… so I went out and got myself a shark. My new agent is Ari Gold in a skirt!

Check out some of her artwork below:

For more information on Khia! and her work, visit khiajackson.com

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Courtesy of Melody Thornton

Melody Thornton Provides Power Vocals To Stirring Solo Single "Love Will Return"

There's a romantic and mysterious aura that seeps into Melody Thornton's solo single, "Love Will Return." From the big band production to Thornton's riveting vocals, it's almost shocking that a gem so bright was hiding in plain sight.

The recent release is the lead single for her forthcoming EP expected to be released next year. Formerly a member of the pop group The Pussycat Dolls, Thornton has shown off her singing chops over the years through the group's most popular tracks like "Buttons," "I Don't Need A Man" and her 2012 solo project, POYBL. With "Love Will Return," Thornton pays homage to inspirations like Eartha Kitt and her Arizona roots. Co-producing the track with Eric Zayne, the singer shared with VIBE how cinematic the creative process was.

“The entire evolution of the song was magic,” she explained. “There’s just something spiritual about it. It moves me in a way like no other song I’ve written before.” The track is a strong introduction to her vocal abilities that appeared to be gravely overlooked during her PCD days.

Last week, The Pussycat Dolls reunited without Thornton, leaving many wondering why. "What I want for myself and for my bandmates are for them is to really enjoy their lives," she told Chart Show TV in January when rumors began to surface of a possible reunion. "When I was in the group, I was a kid...I'm primarily a vocalist. Nicole had been signed twice so it only made sense for her to sing the majority of the leads. But then, I kept being asked to wait my turn and it never came– and we only released two albums. So it's this mistaken identity that I've kind of had to unravel. For me, there's really nothing to go back to."

The ladies are all on good terms with Thornton as Nicole Sherzinger and the rest of the ladies wished her well wishes on her solo endeavors. "It just didn't align [with] where she is in her life right now," Sherzinger said. "She's doing a lot and doing her own music and we totally respect and understand and support her."

Nonetheless, we're thrilled about Thornton's new journey.

Listen to "Love Will Return" below.

 

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Ashanti Douglas attends "It's a Wonderful Lifetime” first holiday party of the year at STK Los Angeles on October 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
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Ashanti Joins Omarion's Millennium Tour

Our prayers for a female presence on Omarion's Millenium Tour have been answered with one of the most talented singers in R&B.

On Thursday (Dec. 5), Omarion announced singer-songwriter Ashanti as a special guest for the upcoming tour. "So excited to announce that Ashanti will be joining The Millennium Tour lineup!" he said in an Instagram post. The singer announced the follow-up show last week to what was perceived as a B2K reunion tour featuring Mario, Lloyd, Pretty Ricky, Chingy, Bobby Valentino and the Ying Yang Twins earlier this year.

Hailed as The "Millenium Tour 2020," the new bill features Soulja Boy and Sammie, with the Ying Yang Twins, Pretty Ricky and Lloyd returning to the mix. The tour will also include Bow Wow, who has several jams (and an album) with Omarion like "Let Me Hold You" and "Girlfriend."

Before joining the tour, Ashanti was a special guest during Lloyd's performances of their 2004 hit, "Southside." With such a large and memorable discography, fans will be thrilled to hear some of the Grammy-winner's biggest hits like "Foolish," "Only U," and recent releases like "Say Less" featuring Ty Dolla $ign and "Pretty Little Thing" featuring Afro B.

This will more than likely be a another big financial boost to the tour. The inaugural Millennium Tour grossed $6.7 million from its first eight reports, according to Billboard and set a career-high for B2K. They also went on to earn $5 million from three additional dates at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (April 13-14), State Farm Arena in Atlanta (April 4-5), and Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. (April 12).

 

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A post shared by ⚡️Omarion ⚡️ (@omarion) on Dec 5, 2019 at 5:57am PST

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Comedian B.Simone attends day 1 of REVOLT Summit x AT&T Summit on September 12, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Boss Goals: B. Simone Earns $100K In Two Months With Beauty Line

Renaissance woman B. Simone is wrapping up her year in a big way. The comedienne, rapper and businesswoman scored a major win after raking up $100K in sales of her beauty line.

B. Simone Beauty was announced over the summer but has been in the making for over a year. Vegan and cruelty-free, her line supplies colorful lip liners, bold lipsticks, makeup bags and accessories. Simone officially launched a site for her products just two months ago with a plan to make $100K. The goal was met ironically on the last day of November, leaving her speechless.

B. Simone shared the moment in an emotional Instagram post Monday (Dec. 2). "This is bigger than me it has NOTHING to do with me," she captioned the video. "It has EVERYTHING to do with God and showing people Him by the way I act and spread LOVE. Even on every tube of lip gloss it says “FAITH OVER FEAR” on the back! I live by that ... God won’t let you down you just have to believe even when you can’t see the outcome. The sky is the limit when it comes to me I swear I’m a monster and I’ll never quit! Manifestation at its finest ... God favors me because he trusts me.

Simone also opened up about her doubts but continued to have faith in meeting her goal. "I had one more day to meet my goal and I started thinking, 'Maybe you aimed too high! Let’s just do a 100k$ goal for December.'  THAT WAS THE ENEMY y’all !!! When I woke up this is what happened... I do none of this alone I keep God-fearing people around me who love me, believe in me and see my vision. Thank you to my manager, my team, all of you and God. None of this is about money it’s all about walking in your purpose and changing the world around you to a more comfortable better place."

 

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A post shared by B. SIMONE (@thebsimone2) on Nov 30, 2019 at 10:49am PST

B. Simone has experienced plenty of other wins with her other talents. As XONecole reports, she hosted Will Smith's birthday party, produced and starred in her own hilarious dating show, provided comedic relief on the VH1 series Girls Cruise with Mya, Lil Kim and Chilli, as well as sharing tips on monetizing in the social media space at the Revolt Summit.

Boss goals indeed. Check out B. Simone's stunning beauty line here.

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