Instagram Artist Talk: A QnA with Sade Petlele

Adornment Stories Collective is excited to highlight the talent of our storytellers both in front of and behind the scenes. Sade is an alum of Adornment Stories, and has returned in 2019 to support the team and future participants as an excited intern. After hosting a few tutorials, we asked them to break down their history with make up, art and storytelling.


Sade is non-binary multidisciplinary artist and university student based in Toronto. They've lived in Oakland/California, Atlanta/Georgia and Johannesburg/South Africa, and living in these urban centres of black art inspired a lot of their creative growth. Their focus is using makeup and ink drawings to express cultural identity and history. Sade creates work using make up to express their blackness, queerness and love of simple graphic art and sketching (using their face as a drawing page).

It should be no surprise they had a lot of great insight to share.


Q: How did you get into make up? What was your first experience with make up like?

A: I always liked playing around with make up! When I was really little I would find my mom’s lipsticks and use them like finger paints on my face, on surfaces, and even on paper if I could find some (my mom definitely wasn’t a fan of this). When I was in high school, make-up tutorials were just starting to become popular on YouTube. I used to watch those to learn the basics, and I still watch them today for more advanced techniques!

Q: Where does your creative process start? Where do you get inspiration?

A: 9/10 times it starts on Instagram. I started following specific hashtags (my favorites are #underratedmuas #melaninmakeup and #editorialmakeup), and these bring up really cool looks on my feed from all over IG. If I see a look that I might want to try, I’ll save the post to look at later. Following these tags has also helped me form community with other black femme MUAs around the world who’s work continues to inspire me! 

Q: How has your art evolved since you first started? What are some signature techniques/looks that have become your go-tos?

A: I’ve definitely started using my love of drawing/sketching with makeup. I’ve been feeling more confident in using the face as a blank page to draw small accents like stars, hearts, patterns and even writing with eyeliner sometimes. A lot of my make up is based around harsh lines. I like big winged cat eyes, graphic eyeliner, stuff like that. I’m not as comfortable with soft or blended eyeshadow looks just yet, but that would be my next technique to learn and challenge myself with!

Q: You draw and explore your art on instagram as well, featuring a lot of black pop culture and history. What inspired these series of works?

A: It started with me wanting to get more comfortable with drawing people and faces instead of just inanimate objects, but I didn’t know how to get that process started. I knew I wanted to start a series during black history month, so I incorporated my love of music with that history and started drawing femme MCs, rappers and DJs because I wanted to tell their stories in both a visual and written way.

Q: You’ve been doing “get ready with me” videos on your instagram stories. What inspired that? 

A: I saw a lot of GRWM videos on YouTube and it seemed like an easy way to start documenting and putting makeup videos out there. I wasn’t really ready to do tutorials yet, so this seemed like a low pressure/more casual way to engage with people on IG and do make up without a ton of structure.

Q: How did it feel to film the tutorials for Adornment Stories?

A: [For the unicorn eyebrows] it was fun doing a tutorial on another person’s face! It was a lot easier to talk through the steps without having to also do make up on myself. It was also interesting doing makeup on a face that’s different than yours (different eyebrow shape/thickness, different bone structure etc.)

[For the star design] it was interesting to show a simple hack to create fun accents with your makeup. I’d been using this technique for a while but hadn’t really shared with other people! It’s definitely weird talking through something that you do in your day-to-day life, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Q: You were part of the 2018 cohort for Adornment Stories. How will you implement some of your style into Adornment Stories for 2019?

A: I think now that I have more tools to create stories through makeup and photo editing and video creation, I’m excited to have more direction for my project this year. I think this year will be more about taking what I’ve learned from the last cohort and focusing that energy on making something more concrete and perfected.

Q: Who are some of your favourite make up artists right now?

A: Some people you should definitely be following [on instagram]: @miles_jai @cilla.w.j @way_of_yaw @naezrahlooks @raggedroyal @poeticdrugs @mooselovesu @makeup.messiah.

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring makeup enthusiasts?

A: I would definitely say you don’t have to drop a lot of money on make up all at once, especially when your experimenting with what you like. Try things out with low priced stuff first, and see what works before thinking about getting more expensive stuff. Doing your research is so helpful! Figure out what kind of makeup looks you’re into through social media. Follow people whose style is similar to yours and see what they like to use and what they’re technique is. Explore and play with make up when you have time (even if your not leaving the house.) Most of the practice I get is doing looks on my days off when I don’t plan to go out. Practice really helped me perfect my technique!

To conclude the discussion, Sade had one more very important take away:

I think people feel like they have to already have a lot of experience, equipment or a body of work to start taking their art form more seriously (whatever that is). I definitely felt that way. I felt like an amateur with what I was doing because I saw people who I viewed as “real artists”, and because I didn’t feel I was on that level, I didn’t feel like it made sense to start doing art in a serious way. But I noticed all the people I viewed as “real artists” were in the same place I was at one time. They didn’t all go to school for art, do it as a full time job, or even necessarily get paid for it. They just started doing a lot, and put it out there and the people in their lives/followings responded well to it. So I think realizing that removed the barrier to me even trying to start taking my art seriously like I did with other people’s!

You can follow Sade @not.that.sade on instagram and check out their 2018 digital exhibit at

Sade Exhibit 2018.jpg

DOs and DON'Ts of Updating Your Diet (And Improving Your Mental Health)

by: Adia Nesbeth

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Eating good is feeling good. It’s true when they say diet impacts your health, both mentally and physically. Food is energy that fuels you. And it’s hard to deny that diet is a hot topic. Lately, there is a rise in veganism, so much so that even fast food restaurants are modernizing their menus by including plant based and gluten free options. But putting aside the commercial aspects of updating your diet is the question of whether this is the healthy option. What does a healthy diet really look like?

Why Update Your Diet?

There are many benefits to making educated decisions when it comes to nutrition. For myself and others, I have found a correlation between what I eat and how I feel. Too much dairy and added sugars will negatively impact my mood and even my self-esteem. I feel more anxiety and stress when my eating habits are unbalanced. However, it wasn’t just what I was eating, but when and how. Creating a new diet from scratch isn’t easy. Finding the time to cook and prepare the food, not to mention trying to stay under budget could lead to stress as well. If you are battling mental health issues like depression, it can be hard to stay motivated or invest the time and energy to updating your entire meal plan. How do you find that balance of making good food that’s good for you, your calendar AND your wallet? There are some tried and tested tips that set me in the right direction.

If you want to update your meals, here are some important DOs and DON’Ts.  

The DOs

  1. DO your research. This part does not have to be as scary or as intense as it sounds. But everyone’s body is different. When making a change, you need to take into account your diet, budget and lifestyle. Start simple, by reading the ingredients lists of the items you buy most regularly. You can’t know what needs changing if you don’t know what you put into your body. Try to limit foods that seem overly processed with many additives. Be sure you are still getting enough vitamins.

  2. DO look up healthy alternatives to your favourite foods. It is possible to love what you eat! It doesn’t mean pizza and ice cream everyday, but it doesn’t mean restricting yourself to salads. Part of the struggle comes from tradition. Food is community and ancestry. However, not all traditions are healthy or relevant anymore. Updating your diet means updating your family recipes by swapping out or reducing the unhealthy ingredients.

  3. DO talk to your doctor before major dietary changes. It doesn’t hurt to check in with your family doctor, if you can before making any extreme changes. For example, if you’re looking into going vegan or vegetarian, you should look into vitamin B12 supplements. 

  4. DO start slow. You want to be mindful of your body’s reaction to new foods. If you have a strange or allergic reaction, you want to know what worked and what didn’t. It will also make the transition easier. 

  5. DO create a meal plan that fits your lifestyle. It’s important to take into account what is realistic to your budget and your calendar. Those elaborate dishes on Pinterest may look nice, but they may also take more time and energy than you have, especially if you are someone with a busy schedule or challenging mental illness. Which leads into the next point...

  6. DO meal prep as much as possible - even if that just includes pre-slicing your carrots, it will make cooking easier and more appealing in the long run. I try to do this at the beginning of the week so I can throw together a quick meal before or after work. So whenever you have some free time, just turn on your favourite show or let an audiobook play from your phone and get to slicing! You will thank yourself later.

  7. DO pair your new diet with exercise. Improving your diet is half the battle, but you should take into account going for walks, yoga or whatever recreational activity speaks to your soul. 

  8. DO remember to love your body no matter what! The goal should be to be as healthy as possible. Be mindful that your diet plan is enriching, not obsessive or restrictive. 

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The DON’Ts

  1. DON’T get caught up in counting calories. Yes, calories are important and it is important to be aware of your calorie intake. But they are not the only relevant information when updating your diet. Becoming obsessive about it can be dangerous. If you would like more information on how to distinguish the difference, talk to your doctor. 

  2. DON’T Change your diet overnight. The worst thing you could do is go $200 over your regular budget buying unfamiliar/specialty ingredients, only to find out you absolutely hate kale and almond butter. Try introducing one or two new recipes at a time.

  3. DON’T Assume vegan means it’s healthy. Plenty of junk food is made without the use of animal byproducts and many meat substitutes are heavily processed. Plant based diets are great and there are healthy and culturally relevant options. However it is still important to look at the ingredient list and eat as much whole foods and complex carbs as possible.

  4. DON’T forget to check in with your body. The important thing is that you feel good. Food should give you energy, so you can go out into the world and be the best version of yourself.

Updating your diet doesn’t have to be a struggle, it just may take some forethought and some motivation. It was only after switching to cashew milk that I realized there was a link to the consumption of dairy and my mental wellness. I chose my wellness. Constant headaches, stomach aches and fatigue was my motivation to update my diet. Whatever push it is for you, hopefully these tips will help you find a place to start.

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Adornment is Ritual

by: Shiyana Hunter


What is Adornment?

Adornment has a few synonyms, but for myself it evokes something unique to this word: ritual. Perhaps it’s just how my brain works and adornment has become associated with anointment, and therefore it conjures feelings of sacred ritual. An embellishment, on the other hand, isn’t a ritual to me; it’s an addition. Adornment is intentional beauty; choosing to see the sacred in our selves and the world we inhabit. There is no adding or subtracting, just being and appreciating. Adornment may be the material symbols and aspects of ceremony, but for me it can be that and more. It can be dancing, music, makeup and creation.  It’s the intention to impart beauty, to sanctify life. 

What is Mindfulness?

Appreciation of the world around me is akin to mindfulness, a practice I have used off and on for about a decade. Mindfulness is kind of a loose, catchall term to describe being present in the moment. The ceremony and ritual of self care, of adorning my life and body, anchors me and facilitates my being present in the moment. There are many meditations out there to help people practice mindfulness, but one of my favourite examples comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, although he is not the only one to speak to it. He discusses doing the dishes as being meditative, a mindfulness practice. Building on that idea based on “paying attention on purpose in the present moment,” I grew to understand my mindfulness practice could be anything, anywhere, at anytime. This gave me the freedom to cultivate a mental health practice through adornment. Doing my makeup was meditative; I was focused on the task of applying colours, creating shadows, and drawing lines. This has allowed me to expand my toolbox and embrace various forms of self care. 


Tools for Creating A Sense of Reverence

In order to create a sense of reverence in my life I use a variety of tools. 

  • Essential oils

  • Incense

  • Crystals

  • Plants

  • Music

  • Clothing

  • Cosmetics/makeup

  • Dance

  • Yoga

  • Candles

My favourite essential oils tend to be citrusy like bergamot and herby like rosemary. I tend to choose scents that are reminiscent of herb gardens, so there are notes of floral but not in your face floral. The objective, for me, is to create a mood. I am using the scents to heal and uplift. Most of the tools I use are meant to do the same. This makes my practice of self-care inherently connected to my practice of adornment. 


Finding My Rhythm 

I still struggle to create a rhythm in my life I can stick to. I often go through depressive episodes, where I find it extremely challenging to care for myself. In those times the tools and task are simplified: drink water, splash water on my face, change my clothes, eat. When I can, I add in the more decorative parts of my self care. 

To me adornment means decoration, ritual, ceremony, sacred, honouring. It means wearing what makes you feel confident, sensual, empowered, and/or comfortable. It means expressing the light of my essence. Sometimes I have a hard time seeing that essence, but the practice helps me to remember. Your adornment may look different from mine, but whatever it may be, it should feel good



Minds Unlimited /Mindfulnessgruppen. “Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness 9 Attitudes - Introduction to the Attitudes.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 June 2013,


How Art Is Linked to Wellness

By: Adia Nesbeth

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One of Adornment Stories’ main goals is to explore the intersection of art, storytelling and wellness. There is more of a connection between art and healing than most may realize. It is difficult to have a conversation about one without the other because both involve an understanding of human emotion and how we express them. When we discuss art, we think about how it makes us feel. We often determine the value of something based on its ability to evoke emotion from us, which is why we remember the lyrics to our favourite song from ten years ago, but we can’t recall what we ate for dinner two weeks ago. It is also why Art Therapy exists as a practice, particularly through the expression of music, visual arts, dance, and writing. Art is simply a creative method of filling in the blanks of a conversation that we struggle to put into words.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

-Maya Angelou

Art has always been my voice when speech has failed. I think most people with a creative spirit feel this. Art and creativity is human nature, but just as anything else, being able to effectively translate feelings or words into images or linguistic structures is a talent that takes practice. So what do we do with this drive to create, to tell stories and why is mental health a part of that journey? I think it’s especially important for marginalized people to find ways to express themselves. A lot of times when dealing with the trauma of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, financial inequality and many other oppressive constructs we can’t see the ways trauma has impacted our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

Expressive writing has healing benefits because it increases self-understanding and insight.
-S. L. Beaumont

Here are some benefits of combining art with healing:

DISCOVERING YOUR WHY. As a young artist, often times I created work by either focusing on the structural elements or principles or just purely based on emotion. But the greatest demonstration of my understanding as an artist has been the times when I’ve been told to dig deeper and figure out what the story I am telling is and why it’s important to tell this story. Why is it so important that it is coming from me? Why now? Why this particular medium? Part of answering those questions is understanding my emotional state. The self-awareness gives me insight on what colours to use in a painting, what filter to add to a photograph and whether I can effectively convey my message to others.

BALANCING ENERGY AND EMOTIONS. As an artist, I often create from emotion. I write to work through my anxiety, I paint to tame my restlessness, etc. We all know the trope of artists being emotionally unstable or restless people. But relying on extreme emotion or distress for inspiration can become an unhealthy crutch. Beginning a creative session with an activity like meditation, writing a list of small wins or saging the space can help ensure you pull from positive emotions and don’t work from a place of emotional distress, even when tackling difficult subjects through your art.

CREATING COMMUNITY. Part of the creative process is collaborating with others in order to exchange ideas, translate and edit work and learn new creative skills. Although this doesn’t always have to be a group activity for art to be healing, finding safe spaces and working with other artists art can be a positive collaborative environment. When like minded people share energy, space and support, it can give you the courage to share your story.

At some point in your creative process, it will lead you to insight into wellness and vice versa. Finding the middle ground is the success of balancing both acts efficiently and fulfilling multiple aspects of your life at once. Creativity leads to healing and through healing we develop inspiration to share stories. Sharing stories is how others find healing. And so the cycle continues.

...Not honoring that need [to express oneself] can be as detrimental to our well-being as suppressing our emotions.
-S. L. Beaumont
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Beaumont, S. L. (2018). The art of words: Expressive writing as reflective practice in art therapy. Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, 31(2), 55. doi:10.1080/08322473.2018.1527610