Mini Gabi : with Gabi Almeida
We LOVE Mini Gabi. What inspired you to create Mini Gabi?
Thank you! I am so glad you guys like her. The inspiration for Mini Gabi came after I had a severe accident and banged my head and got concussion. I was unable to work for a year, and for the first four months I couldn’t watch TV, read or anything - everything made me dizzy. It was a lonely time, but it motivated me to start drawing again. I started to draw cartoons and creating characters to keep me company, and Mini Gabi was born.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself as an artist?
I grew up in São Paulo, Brasil. My mother was an artist and my grandparents were art dealers. I grew up surrounded by art books, which I took a great interest in and became a huge fan of surrealist masters such as Salvador Dali.
I got involved with the street art scene in Sao Paulo and used to go around spraying quotes and messages on various surfaces. At the age of 16, I came to the UK.
It was music that took my focus in London, and I became a session guitarist touring with bands such as Tricky and The Lighthouse Family, playing concerts and TV shows including Jools Holland and MTV awards.
Inspired from working with great artists and producers, I decided to go solo, make my own music and my own videos. I went back to Brazil for a while to work on my album mixing UK and Brazilian influences.
My first single ‘Paint My Colours’ was the union of my art and music. The video and single were played on channels such as MTV Brasil and various radio stations.
Following this success I came back to the UK and released further singles in 2012. A couple of my tracks reached the official Music Week UK Club Top 20. I was producing the music, art covers and videos.
I love creating Mini Gabi. She has taken my creations to another level, and has allowed me to explore new art forms and discover what art can achieve. Mini Gabi has bought everything together - photography, fashion, art, music and writing. She has a life of her own and my next ambition is to create a mini film for her. People are now more interested in her than they are me!
Mini Gabi is a girl empowerment figure, focusing on discussing, campaigning for and raising awareness of education, women’s rights and women’s issues to young girls and teenagers. How important is Mini Gabi in the education of young girls on these topics?
There aren't enough female mascots out there. Many programmes have a male lead, and the female is the romantic interest or a side kick. Mini Gabi has been created to inspire young girls and show them that they can be leads in their own stories. Mini Gabi is cool and strong, and she enjoys being herself. She doesn’t need to be sexualised or perfect. She likes people who are authentic and she says what she thinks! I think it is essential to have more mainstream brands and characters who promote equality in a fun way, so that the discussion expands feminism into the mainstream. I believe that brand collaborations and partnerships with characters like Mini Gabi help to continue the discussion on women’s rights and issues, and start to solve them. We can’t relate to stick thin models, and high end brands that are out of reach for many.
Mini Gabi was created to be relatable to all young girls. Everyone is allowed in her tribe and she accepts everyone. She invites people to explore and experiment with style, hobbies and activities, to find themselves and do what they love.
Being authentic can be a lonely journey and Mini Gabi aims to create a movement of authenticity and diversity where we can share values as well as have our unique personalities.
Why is it important to teach girls about these topics from an early age?
I believe that it is important to teach both boys and girls about topics of equality, women’s issues - and men’s issues, masculinity, femininity, periods, self love etc so they can grow up with an understanding and knowledge. With this education, women won’t have to constantly demand respect, and fight for their rights. They won’t have to walk around wondering if they’re going to get harassed or not.
Childhood has a massive impact on children, and we need to influence them positively and set the right paradigm at an early age. It is easier to build up a child, than to fix a broken adult.
It seems to me that we living in an "unlearning " generation. We have the highest rate of people in therapy, and a higher suicide rate. Something isn’t adding up.
Young girls should be busy defining and understanding their passions, looking at their strengths and exploring and discovering what kind of life they want
Do you think that art is and can be an important element in raising awareness and tackling certain issues?
I heard a film director once say, if you want to touch people , speak to their heart, not their heads.
Art can touch people on an emotional level and it speaks across languages, cultures and countries meaning it can be an excellent tool in raising awareness of particular issues and topics.
We live in a diverse world and people connect and react to different things.
I think is about joining a movement and doing what you love to express your values.
Mini Gabi has worked with some important events and campaigns including #FreePeriods and TEDx Women. How important are these collaborations, and how do you use them to inspire the next generation?
I was very honoured to work with such beautiful events and campaigns, and Mini Gabi played a great part too! I think that it is important to collaborate and work together to make ideas stronger. We need to create a network of people, and this is the best way to do it. We can’t be successful on our own, and the key is sharing ideas, thoughts and feelings in order to grow and flourish and achieve. They say knowledge is power, but so is sharing!
And it’s finding new ideas. I had no idea that so many girls in the UK were missing school for not having sanitary products. Thanks to Amika George, I have become aware of this and now I can join the movement of raising awareness so more people will hear about it.
Same thing for TEDx . There were powerful ideas and amazing solutions already being implemented to some challenging issues . CrowdJustice, Augmented reality surgery and the Unstereotype movement are a few of them. By being part of it, I am able to help to continue the dialogue and hopefully inspire future generations.
What issues do you think are more prominent at the moment, and what do you think needs to be done to tackle them?
The women’s rights movement is growing and it is amazing to see so many brave women sharing their stories and raising awareness. More and more women are speaking out about several issues making people pay attention. I think its important to get more men involved to create an inclusive movement with boys and girls speaking the same language of respect.
How do you use social media to develop Mini Gabi and give her a voice?
Mini Gabi is a force of her own. I don’t have a fixed strategy, but I like to post when Mini Gabi has something to say. It’s about sharing things that are important to me, and what young girls can relate to so it can often be a mix of content. I try to create as many new Mini Gabi’s as possible in different places, situations and with different content, as it adds to the element that she is a real person, experiencing what her audience is experiencing. It’s about being real, and producing real content. Her main platform is Facebook, but we are working on growing Instagram.
What is Mini Gabi up to next? What do you want to see her do next?
So much! Mini Gabi is on an adventure. We are working on a short animation film , more travelling.....and who knows a TEDx talk? : )