Gyrl Gaze: Shade Mag

Tumblr has always been a haven for people looking to start a movement and get their voice across. Though this has certainly put the focus more on marginalised people, there has been a lack of critical voice and a huge lack of inclusion when it comes to people of colour. But recently, there’s a wave of stronger movements building up; people who take a critical eye towards issues and are focused on solely creating safe spaces for people of colour in creative fields. Apryl Fuentes and Azha Luckman are two artists who are coming in with a fire to make sure that the marginalised get what we deserve, and they’re doing it in a way that’s honest, powerful, and very colourful. I got the chance to interview both girls for this installment.

What is Shade Mag? What’s the goal/movement about?

Shade Mag is a safe space for artists of color. Shade is our answer to what we weren’t seeing in the media and art world. Instead of fitting in we’ve decided to carve out our own space and will continue expand it.

We’re taking things into our own hands.

How long have you guys known each other and how does your friendship manifest itself in Shade?

We were in the same astronomy class freshmen year of college, (we’re Juniors now so we’ve known each other about 2-3 years), and had kind of seen each other around the city. One time we ran into each other at a thrift store and Azha had asked our mutual friend for my number. That summer we worked on Haight Street together and ever since then we’ve been attached at the hip. Together we see the world through a very colorful, pattern-filled, aesthetic lense. All our ideas combine together and evolve into the projects that make up Shade. We’re both very outgoing people so when we go to parties and events there’s always the guarantee that we’ll meet new people to welcome into our Shade world.

You recently put out what I thought was a very cool and interesting zine called Xicanas in Suburbia, centered around misrepresentation and your definition of browness. Could you elaborate more on that/what you wanted to get across?

We are very supportive of each other and have found that when we are together people act very strange towards the two of us and there are a lot of very micro aggressive things that happen. At first the way people acted was unusual and hurtful. It definitely opened up a lot of doors to conversations about our identities and how people in the bay perceive that in us. I grew up in a heavily Mexican household so I never really questioned my own identity. It wasn’t until moving to San Francisco that I realised really how much people ignored my identity as a Mexicana. When discussing this with Azh she recalled instances when people tried to take away her blackness and claim that she is ‘white washed’. That’s when we decided to create this zine. It is our way of challenging and dealing with those negative attitudes we- and many other youth of color- face.

This zine is for all PoC. We also included our amazing friend Alex. Seeing how these things affect many of us was a motivation to say something. Xicanas In Suburbia was created to document these ideas and experiences that helped us learn and grow. It’s about navigating yourself in different spaces. It’s about supporting each other as PoC, learning and growing. We wanted this project to be accessible to everyone. Groups of people become excluded because the use of certain academic language that isn’t accessible to them. Our goal is always to create accessible art and resources that you can relate to. Xicanas in Suburbia is a learning process and an artistic way of growing into our identities. In doing this we got to collaborate with friends and loved ones who have seen and felt this growth.

Where do you guys draw inspiration from, not only in regards to visuals but also in regards to what makes you want to keep this movement alive in a world where girls like us find it hard to get a word in?

Living in the city has a very big influence on the content of Shade. It’s also influenced by the fact that we both come from different but still similar backgrounds. We each grew up in different suburbs in different areas of California with varying demographics. We love plants, live music, DIY projects, and movies. Public transit allows us to see and be around so many different people and parts of the city. Simply being around positive, supportive friends really motivates and inspires us on a daily basis. It’s so amazing to have young people approach us and tell us their stories and how Shade plays a part in their lives.

What’s in store for Shade? What can we look forward to?

We got such a positive response to Xicanas in Suburbia so we are looking to start a Kickstarter to fund our next big project. It’s been in the works for quite some time so this is all very exciting. We’re also collaborating with our dear friend Mo (, illustrator and talented contributor of so that will be dropping very soon! Stay posted →


Words by Fabiola Ching