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