Janine Gaëlle Dieudji: I like changing and renewing myself

We don't have to be afraid to share ideas with people, this is how beautiful things happen Click To Tweet

Janine Gaëlle Dieudji is a bi-national French and Cameroonian graduate of Culture and International Relations from Lyon 3 University in France. She also holds a Master Degree in Political Science from Paris 2 Panthéon Assas University.

She’s been living in Florence, Italy, for the past six years, a city she has since fallen in love with. This is how Florence became home to her and the place where she started to build her career as an art professional. She considers herself as a ‘multi­local’ by believing that we belong to all the places we have lived in. Home is where the mind can create and feel rested at the same time. This is what the life journey is made for, exploring to become the person we decide to be. 

Janine, what is an art agitator?

I consider as an art agitator to be a person who makes the difference.

For me, it’s a person who makes the art scene move and is committed to it. It could be a curator, an artist, an art dealer, a gallerist or a collector. The ability to inspire others by your achievements and the way you humbly contribute to the dynamism of this versatile field.

Janine in Yaoundé by Rodrig Mbock

 What gave you the sparks to follow this career path?


Well, I truly love what I do which helps a lot. The absolute truth is that this path in a certain way chose me, actually.
First when I landed six years ago in the renaissance city, Florence. I was there for a year through a study exchange program (Erasmus). I had no idea six years later I would still be here, but I fell in love with this city, and every time I tried to leave (I have tried three times), I always come back after a couple of months.
The second time (in 2012) I was about to leave Florence because I wasn’t happy professionally. Then, randomly, I met the artist Clet Abraham. We quickly got along and I think he saw something in me, which became a working relationship. After six months in Lyon to complete my Master’s degree, we started a three year, beautiful and enriching collaboration.
Two years before Clet, I had a two month internship at the city hall of Rosny-sous-Bois in France where I assisted the Director of the Cultural Department in the organization of Beninese artist Zinkpè’s exhibition. At that time, I wanted to be a journalist or work in a cultural department of an international organization like the UN, La Francophonie or a French Institute abroad.

What’s the best way for one to make a name for themselves?

It may sounds cliché, but I would say to be yourself, stay humble and always be curious to learn something new. I believe that these ingredients make people excel at what they do. Humility and originality are the key, but also the hard work you put on it. One can not forget that fears and struggles are important in ones daily development.


Humility and originality are key to making a name for yourself - Janine Gaelle Dieudji Click To Tweet

Filmmaker Jean Louis Livi, PR Festival Janine Dieudji, Festival director Francesco R. Martinotti ©Filippo Menichetti

How is it like working with talented people such as Johanne Affricot of Griotmag.com?

It’s definitely inspiring. Johanne Affricot is one of a kind and I’m very grateful to work with her. She’s multi-tasks, a great mom, a wife and a do-er with no fear.
She created Griotmag.com two years ago, the first Italian webzine celebrating an aesthetic, creative and cultural diversity in and from Italy – African Italians – and the African diaspora. From this project, she pushed forward by creating a webserie,  The Expats – a a documentary web series exploring the lives of African Italian creatives living abroad in the search of new opportunities. Two new episodes filmed in London will be released by the end of this month. The use of the term in the title of the series is meant to be provocative and encourage reflection not only about the idea of black Italians in Italy and abroad but also Italians who do not know this “different” or “diverse” Italy.
I was very excited when she approached me a year ago, we immediately clicked the first time we met, we have a lot in common and work well together.


I realized that together we do better and we go further - Janine Gaelle Dieudji Click To Tweet

You have a lot of experience as a contributor. What is the most valuable thing you have learnt so far?

I realized that together we do better and we go further. I like changing and renewing myself so being a contributor on different projects makes me do different things and it’s exciting. I recently collaborated with Justin Thompson on the organization of the Black History Month Florence, we had at least 50 events all over the city, in only one month.

My main satisfaction was the Clay Apenouvon’s installation “Film noir, danse de survie” which I curated in collaboration with the City Hall and Institut Français Firenze. I met  Clay  almost two years ago at 1:54 art fair in London where I discovered his work and I love how down to earth the artist was. After that, we decided we want to collaborate, so we started in Florence, and hopefully will do more in the future.

My point is we don’t have to be shy or afraid to share ideas with people, this is how beautiful things happen, by putting our strengths, capacities, and inspirations together. With this philosophy, I’m actually doing a collaboration with Wires eyewear on the Italian and French market, and I’m planning to organize a Street Art Festival in Cameroon for 2018, as soon as I find some partners to fund it.

by Darrel Hunter

So Janine is also a translator. Is there a code of ethics when it comes to translating?

I’m new in this field actually; I started a couple of months ago in a multinational corporation, General Electric, I was translating engineering and computer science files. Honestly, I had no clue of what I was translating the first days, so I had to study different manuals and technical languages, I did a lot of research and it made my life easier. I’ve always been passionate by languages, I actually speak three and half (Spanish is the half, I understand it well but since I’m living in Italy, I’m always mixing up with Italian when I try to speak it.) and I took a six month course of Chinese when in College, I really liked it, I wished I had gone into it in depth, but then I started working and let it go.
Speaking many languages doesn’t make you able to be a proper translator, it’s really hard. This is why the first code is to always translate into your mother tongue, making sure you master all its intricacies. I document myself a lot. So every time I have to translate something new, I do an intensive research to make sure I’m giving a top notch translation.


The first code to be great translator is to translate into your mother tongue - Janine Dieudji Click To Tweet

What can a translator do to improve them self?

Keep yourself updated through a lot of reading and practice.

Clet and Janine in Studio, Florence, by Ilaria Vangi

You also assist artists to achieve and develop their work and you connect them with other professionals. Share with us your highlights.

Well, I easily make contact with people. I’m very sociable and it helps me to create new connections every time I travel, and I travel a lot. Once I’m back, I sit and start brainstorming about how I can put two and two together. Like I previously said, sharing ideas and thoughts with others is very enriching, this is how you understand someone’s needs and how you can contribute to make it happen.

This is how I connected Clet with the French film festival, France Odeon I work with for example. He told me that he wanted to do something new with his art, like a cartoon. On the other side, Francesco Martinotti, the festival’s director told me he wanted to make an animated jingle to screen before every movie during the festival, something artistic. So I naturally connected them and a great collaboration was born.

The process was almost the same when I brought together Anna Gargarian, founder of HAYP Pop Up Gallery in Yerevan, Armenia and Noumeda Carbone, French-Italian artist, or when I put together Clay with the Black History Month Florence project. And right now I’m currently doing a collaboration with the artist Barthélémy Toguo for the upcoming auction at Piasa “Contemporary Art from Africa and the Diaspora: Origins and Trajectories” on April 20.

Fun question! Janine if you were to be a city which city would you be and why?

I would definitely say Johannesburg. I’ve never been there, but it has always fascinated me, and I recently had a dream where I was there. The subculture and creativity in Joburg amazes me and attracts me.
I read a lot about and follow some creative South Africans on Instagram, like the Mukheli’s brothers, the talented Zanele Muholi I had the chance to meet in Florence, or one of my favourite designer Laduma that I met first in London then Florence. I find them very inspiring and cutting edge in their vision of creativity on the continent. I would definitely like to travel there very soon, to experience a swenkas” competition and connect with the creative community.


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7 other viable fashion career paths

ifeoma odogwu fashion career

A career in fashion is a lot more than just having good style Click To Tweet

We’ve seen how fashion can be an empowering tool for women. There are several layers to explore with a fashion career. It’s a lot more than just having good style, and it poses several opportunities for one to exploit.

You could have a strong love for fashion and wish to make a career out of it, but not be sure you want to go down the path of fashion designer. Because that’s so mainstream?

Well, there are several other viable career options to explore. Here are 7 outlined below:

1. Fashion Stylist

This is a very lucrative path for one who is prepared to take it on. Despite how glamorous it sounds, it’s a lot of hard work that requires a good eye for detail and an understanding of your client’s needs. You’ll be working with designers, music producers, magazines etc.

The life of a fashion stylist is crazy hectic, just ask Ifeoma Odogwu of Hyperfashun. Crazy schedules, tight deadlines, a cut-throat industry; so if you’re not built for pressure, ditch the thought.

You can either work freelance or as an attaché. Starting out as a freelancer, you can’t expect to charge up a storm for your services. However, as you build your clientèle and reputation you are able to gradually increase your fees.

The life of a fashion stylist is crazy hectic, if you’re not built for pressure, ditch the thought Click To Tweet

2. Fashion Illustrator

There are much fewer fashion illustrators in the industry but it is a path that holds great promise. This is a path that requires specific skill with pencil and with the brush, with colour and with imagery. As a fashion illustrator, you get to work with fashion houses and magazines to create drawings and paintings bringing the client’s vision to life.

Claire Idera, the London-based fashion illustrator explains that there is a lot more to illustration than simply having the ability to draw silhouettes. Furthermore, one must have the ability to extract the essence of the client’s imagination and portray it with paper and colour.

If you’ve got the artistic skill and comprehensive ability to become a fashion illustrator, you’ll certainly be in high demand any time soon.

3. Fashion Editor

Are you thinking Anna Wintour? The title of fashion editor is no small feat. You must be able to write, obviously and you must also be able to wear the hat of fashion director.

Predicting fashion trends come with the territory so it goes without saying that you must be super stylish and understand fashion to a T. You’ll be supervising photo shoots, writing and editing fashion articles, selecting high-quality photos for publications.

You’ll need to pay your dues in the industry so starting out as an intern in fashion or with a magazine is always a good idea.

If you want to be a fashion editor, starting out as an intern is always a good idea Click To Tweet

4. Fashion Photographer

In Nigeria, most people think the only moneymaker for photographers is wedding shoots or coverage. Welcome to the world of greats like Kelechi Amadi-Obi.

Besides having top-notch photography skills, the aspiring fashion photographer must be organized and deeply creative. It is your job to set the tone, create the best lighting and texture that will breathe life to the fashion or art pieces on a shoot.

You should also be fashion-savvy and have the ability to think on your feet. Photographers have their work featured on fashion and lifestyle websites, blogs, print magazines, digital campaigns etc.

And hey, besides the sweet paychecks you get the repute of discovering new faces in fashion like Olajumoke Orisaguna!


5. Fashion Model

Women like Fatima Siad are killing it on the runway. If you’re not one to be behind-the-scenes then this is a great career prospect for you.

To break into the industry, you need to have a combination of looks and attitude. If you photograph well and have striking features including a fit bod, this might be a career for you. You’ll need to put together a portfolio and find good representation with reasonable terms. Laurie Frempong has taken the more challenging route of being her own PR/Manager.

Perks of the job include travelling, working with big name designers and gaining self-exposure especially if you already have an exit strategy in mind.

To break into the fashion industry, you need to have a combination of looks and attitude. Click To Tweet

6. Buyer

A buyer’s job is most interesting. Working for fashion stores, boutiques, and big fashion chains, the buyer is responsible for handpicking the pieces that go into retail.

This is done through a basic understanding of consumer psychology; observing what items customers are most interested in buying and predicting what items will be on-trend in the next season.

As the middleman between suppliers and customers, a fashion buyer must have the ability to multi-task, have a great customer approach and be super intuitive. There’s also a lot of travel involved.

7. Visual Merchandiser

Last but not least, is the visual merchandiser. This is a subtle role that no one ever really gives too much thought to except it’s an essential part of fashion marketing.

When you walk into a store, what are the first things you notice? The layout looks exquisite, doesn’t it and for some reason, the sales items are all the way behind? Well, that’s the merchandiser at work. Their job is to create an appealing outlook and prioritise the placement of pieces for optimal visibility, especially those items that need to be selling.

The role of a visual merchandiser is actually an essential part of fashion marketing Click To Tweet

Michelle Duwe, Visual Merchandising Manager of Topshop SA explains that to go down the path, you would need to have loads of energy, creativity and enthusiasm to dress up the mannequins in the display window and sort out all the fittings.

Let us know in the comments what fashion path you’re most interested in!