Monica Ahanonu

Honoree

Monica Ahanonu is a freelance illustrator working and living in Los Angeles. Many consider her an expert in color theory, vector illustration, and motion design.

After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2013, Monica started her career at DreamWorks Animation where she honed her unique artistic style. She made the jump to become a full-time freelance artist in April 2017. Inspired by the growth in the digital space, she started to create an Instagram following from her diverse range of portraits subjects using her signature style and daring color combinations. In her short time working as a freelancer, Monica has worked with companies such as Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Netflix, Samsung USA, TIME Magazine, Adidas, Sprite, Salvatore Ferragamo, MTV, Shea Moisture, NYX Cosmetics, Simon & Schuster, Adobe and more.

Monica continues to lead in the digital space for black artists. Her portraits and pop art make learning about people from other cultures, industries and backgrounds accessible. “Just because you’re different from the people around you doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful”, says Monica. “I believe in diverse beauty. It brings color and variation into the world …and more excitement. I’m glad that I can bring that to light with my work.” Her third illustrated book, ICONS: 50 Heroines Who Shaped Contemporary Culture, was released in February 2020. Monica wants to make sure everyone honors their own uniqueness and beauty.

Outside of her client and portrait work, Monica has been featured on Vogue.com, Disney Style, Refinery29, Adobe Spark, DesignMilk.com, ArchitecturalDigest.com and Afropunk.com. Afropunk.com describes Monica’s style as “a little Bauhaus, a little Warhol, vector illustrations packed with personality, nostalgia, and pride. Work that honors black creatives, be they fashion designers, music legends, or cultural icons. Expressive portraits that bring an extra dimension to each subject.”

SheROCKS 2021 Artist of the Year