feature: self-taught illustrator briana walker blends afrofuturism and surrealism to create visual feast of imaginative black identity

February 15, 2016

Briana Walker is an incredibly talented, self-taught illustrator who creates afro-centric surrealistic imagery and characters that are derived from African iconography and science fiction. Briana consistently utilizes saturated color palettes, evoking vitality and mysticism. “I’ve always found it important to include representations of women and men like me in my work. I am a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction and a latecomer to the works of Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany. After I discovered them, I think that my work gained a more refined focus. Ensuring my representation in a genre where Blackness is underrepresented was a feeling that I couldn’t give a real voice before I found Butler and Delany,” Walker tells AFROPUNK

What’s most interesting about Walker’s illustrations are the visual overlaps between afro-centric and futuristic themes and imagery, Mexican modern art and Gabriel García Márquez-like magical realism. Intentionally or otherwise, her work summons stylistic references to artists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. “I often paint women in my stand-alone pieces. It’s very important to me as well to paint diverse representations of femininity. There’s a definite need for more of that in art. Singular depictions of beauty or what it means to be a woman are harmful and only serve to marginalize the people who fall outside of what is considered the “status quo” or “default” further.” Very Frida.

Check out several of Walker’s beautiful illustrations below and check her out on Tumblr and Instagram.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor



Portrait of Singer/Author Kelis

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at