Jiji Knight is a lover of magic, ladies, and breakfast for dinner. Graphic designer by day and illustrator by night, she’s a champion of body positivity, uniter of the cute and macabre, and overall dedicates her body of work to women. She studied illustration at the Academy of Art in beautiful San Francisco and currently resides in her desert hometown of Las Vegas.
Tell me about you! What’s your name? What pronouns do you use? Where do you live? What do you like to eat for breakfast?
Hi! I’m Jiji. I’m she/her, thank you for asking. I currently live in Las Vegas! This is actually my hometown. (No, I don’t live in a casino hahaha.) And for breakfast I generally like to eat lunch (I am a big brunch lover). I’m actually pretty bad about eating breakfast. I love to sleep in when I can and just eat whenever I’m hungry.
What is your business, and how does it make a difference in the world?
I am in the business of ladies! I draw empowered, emotional, and beautiful babes of all sizes but I dedicate a lot of my body of work to body positivity. In laymen’s terms: I draw fat babes. I like making people feel good about their bodies. I’d like to think the difference I bring to the world is bringing them the ability to see themselves in a way they didn’t think of before!
Why is what you do important? How does it change the way people see or how they feel about their bodies?
Growing up I didn’t really ever see fat women or girls like me in the media, in art, or anything that was a part of forming me and my self esteem. I grew up feeling ugly. I grew up feeling unworthy? I really want to be able to be a part of the change in the media. Body positivity is, finally, booming and I hope my art can reach out to others and give them some sort of power to take back their tears.
I’ve gotten messages from a lot of people who follow my work letting me know they’d never seen art of a woman who was fat and happy. Or that the way I draw my ladies, fashionable and fearless as they are, has given them the confidence to dress how they’ve always wanted instead of how they thought they were supposed to. I’m pleased as punch every time I know there’s another fellow fat out there who is on the path to being unapologetic and taking back their life from society and it’s expectations.
What’s your most popular item/service, or the one you most enjoy doing/making?
My most popular items, at the moment, are a gengar and a clefable that have knives. 2019 was dubbed ‘the year of the knife’ and I guess it truly is hahaha.
The ones I enjoy making the most (aside from clearly the gengars) are my macabre babes. I love to marry the soft and the macabre together, or how I put it: marrying cute and spooky. I have two original characters that are the personification of death and life (spring) – I guess like a gengerbent Hades and Persephone? La Muerte Y Fiora. I adore them to bits.
How does body positivity or fat positivity make your business different from others in your field? What has your experience been like?
My experience has been overwhelmingly positive!
Because I cater to fat positivity, I stand out from the crowd. ‘Conventional’ beauty is everywhere. You can walk into any store and get that. Being able to give someone something that makes them genuinely smile every time they see it rather than start thinking about everything that’s wrong with them is definitely different and my favourite thing ever.
Can you share an instance where you made a real difference for a customer, or had some really great feedback from them about your body-positive work?
Oh gosh, the story that immediately came to mind was FlameCon this year. There was a lovely pair of cosplayers who came to my table dressed like Louis and Lestat. Lestat had brought Louis because they’d spotted my work and Louis, a fellow fat, was fighting tooth and nail not to cry because the Poison Ivy I had on display looked like them. They’d never seen a thick-thighed Poison Ivy in their life. The hug we shared was everything. I could feel this relief? This gratefulness. And being able to do that for someone, no matter how often it happens or how sparsely, it’s world shattering.
How did you discover body acceptance or body positivity personally? What kind of difference has it made for you?
I don’t even know. It was such a weird epiphany. I can vividly recall the first time I drew a fat character and it was this little pink witch that I would then thereafter draw obsessively for months. I still draw her from time to time, my ‘Strawberry Mint Witchling.’ She wore her rolls and stretchmarks loudly and proudly and I think what blew my mind even more was the response I got. I’d drawn her to make me smile – someone who looked like me. I came to a point in my life where I was tired of drawing people I wished I looked like. Drawing her and drawing more and more ladies that looked like me slowly helped me begin to get ahold of my depression, my low confidence, and improve my own self image so so much. I just own me now, who I am, and every stretchmark (new and old). And I guess indulging myself with my work indulged something in other people’s lives too.
What advice do you have for other people who are learning to love and accept their bodies?
To not expect it to happen overnight. It isn’t a switch you just hit and bam, you love yourself and love your body. I wish it was. It’s a journey, and sometimes a hard one, but finding your way to love yourself is worth it and matters.
What advice do you have for other business owners who’d like to incorporate body acceptance into their work?
Draw from LIFE. The biggest mistake I see is people wing it and their ‘body positive’ ladies just end up looking… pregnant and maternal? Study fat bodies! There are so many awesome body positive models and people out there, influencers, that you can draw. That sort of love and appreciation comes through in your work.
Where can we find more of your amazing work?