Announcing the first 8 recipients of Adobe Stock Artist Development Fund

It is our pleasure to announce the first eight recipients selected for the Artist Development Fund, a new $500,000 creative commission program from Adobe Stock.

Image source: Adobe Stock /

It is our great pleasure to announce the first eight recipients selected for the Artist Development Fund, a new $500,000 creative commission program from Adobe Stock: Gerardo Rojas Juárez, Oriana Koren, Cole Ndelu, Obiageli Adaeze Okaro, Alp Peker, Ejatu Shaw, Amaal Said, and Andrea Vollgas.

Each of these artists has been selected for their demonstrated ability to authentically portray visual cultures through the lens of their own regional, ethnic, and lifestyle communities. As we take steps towards a truly inclusive stock collection that accurately reflects the diversity of the real world, we are thrilled to partner with them and support their projects.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Vpanteon.

Expanding representation with the Advocates program

Last fall, we introduced a new initiative from Adobe Stock, focused on surfacing and championing diverse and inclusive content from artists who identify with underrepresented communities: Adobe Stock Advocates program. To accelerate our commitment to supporting and promoting accurate, inclusive representation in stock imagery, we have invested $500,000 in a new Artist Development Fund. Over the course of 2021, forty selected artists will use these funds to explore new creative projects, offsetting costs that all too often become insurmountable barriers (like hiring models, renting spaces, and covering equipment costs).

In collaboration with the Adobe Creative Residency program, Adobe Stock is awarding $12,500 each to these artists as they undertake new projects focused on accurately depicting their diverse communities and unique experiences in a visually fresh, inclusive way. Applications are open — artists who identify with and depict underrepresented and diverse communities within their work are encouraged to apply.

Image source: Adobe Stock / Valerii Honcharuk.

Meet the first eight selected artists

Here is an introduction to each of our first selected recipients of the Artist Development Fund. They are highly accomplished, multidimensional, and hailing from around the world — and we cannot wait to see what they will create.

Image credit: Gerardo Rojas Juárez.

Gerardo Rojas Juárez

Gerardo Rojas Juárez is a visual artist currently living in Lima, Peru. He is 23 years old and has been working with photography, graphic design, videos, and illustration for the past five years. He studied editorial design and typography at the Universidad de la Rioja, and is currently studying advertising with a focus on photography. Gerardo says that art is an intensely motivating force for him, allowing him to take in his life’s varied experiences and share pieces of his memory and heart with the world.

His commission project for Artist Development Fund was inspired by the Identity and Gender and Celebration of Self creative briefs. In the project, he plans to portray the daily life of the LGBTQ community within Peru, and to represent their spirit and struggle through his colorful perspective.

Image credit: Oriana Koren.

Oriana Koren

Oriana Koren is a first generation Haitian-American Florida-born photographer, writer, and researcher based in Los Angeles, CA. Their work centers on the perspectives of people and communities with a history of colonization by re-framing image-making through a fusion of personal research, anthropological methodologies, and in-depth documentary practice. Oriana’s work most often focuses on Black contributions to American foodways and popular culture. They are a founding member of the Authority Collective, a co-author of the Photo Bill of Rights, and the founder of the Lit List photo award.

Oriana’s project for Artist Development Fund, entitled “The Black Food Visual Bible,” responds to the Taste of Heritage creative brief. They will seek to create a comprehensive visual library of African and Black contribution to American foodways and cuisines as a means of correcting the institutional memory of American culinary art and agricultural technology.

Image credit: Mark Antonello.

Cole Ndelu

An award-winning photographer and artist, Cole Ndelu graduated in 2016 from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography with a BA in Visual Communication, majoring in Photography. Her work occupies the intersection between art, fashion, documentary, and spirituality, and explores the themes of vulnerability, self-care, justice, and space.

She says that her practice is centered around the Black community, and she considers herself to be “a contributor to the archive of our time… to contribute positively to our history and to the future, by making imagery that is an expression of the love that I have for my community, and an expression of my dreams and aspirations.” Her commission project for Artist Development Fund is inspired by Adobe Stock’s Celebration of Self creative brief. The project examines women across a range of ages, family life, fatherhood, and spirituality.

Image credit: Adaeze Okaro.

Adaeze Okaro

Born and raised in Enugu state, Nigeria, Obiageli Adaeze Okaro is a self-taught photographer. She centers her work around portraiture, fine art, documentary imagery, and fashion photography in the Anambra state of Nigeria, where she lives.

Obiageli’s work features Black women and men in colorful, lucid portraits that are deeply infused with cultural traces of her origins. Inspired by family photo albums and images of her mother, father, and brothers, Obiageli also incorporates aesthetics from Nigeria’s booming movie industry, Nollywood. Her commission for Artist Development Fund will reflect around the Celebration of Self, Joyful Rhythm, and Beliefs & Rituals creative briefs, and feature subjects in their homes or personal spaces in Nigeria to express a sense of belonging.

With her work for companies like Dove, Getty Images, Girlgaze, VSCO, Adobe and more, Obiageli’s work continues to showcase the beauty of Black women while aiming to dismantle barriers and stereotypes surrounding Black women, one photograph at a time.

Image credit: Alp Peker.

Alp Peker

Alp Peker is a 24-year-old artist and photographer from Izmir, Turkey. He is a medical school graduate from Ege University and a photography graduate from AOF. His work focuses on abstract art portraits, often expressing protest against social norms as an entry point for commentary about human rights, discrimination, and gender inequality.

His commission project for Artist Development Fund is inspired by the Turkish culture, along with the juxtaposition of conservatism versus progressive lifestyles. He is currently a Premium collection artist with Adobe Stock, has exhibited twice in Grenoble, France, in 2019. His work has been published by VSCO, in Gucci Beauty, PhotoVogue, Lucie Foundation, Galerie Tracanelli, and others.

Image credit: Amaal Said.

Amaal Said

Amaal Said is a Danish-born Somali photographer and poet, currently based in London. She is concerned with different modes of storytelling and how best she can connect with people to document their stories.

Her commission project for Artist Development Fund is inspired by the everyday rituals of Muslim women in Great Britain. Her photographs have been featured in Vogue, The Guardian and The New York Times. An accomplished writer, she won Wasafiri Magazine’s New Writing Prize for poetry in 2015. She is a member of Octavia, poetry collective for womxn of color, and is a former Barbican Young Poet.

Image credit: Ejatu Shaw.

Ejatu Shaw

Ejatu Shaw is a London-based visual artist and multidisciplinary content creator. Working with both analogue and digital photography, she creates imagery around the theme of identity and her own personal experiences with it. She also has a YouTube channel where she releases videos about photography, sharing what goes on behind the scenes of her photoshoots.

Her commission project for Artist Development Fund is inspired by Black girl/boy joy, as well as Black love and families. Her work has been featured in publications including DAZED, Indie Mag, Hypebeast, Okay Africa, Vogue, Afropunk, Reform the Fund, 1991 Zine, Notion Mag, Fader, and others.

Image credit: Andrea Vollgas.

Andrea Vollgas

Andrea Vollgas, also known as Vollgas Studio, is a queer, feminist illustrator, storyteller and creative mentor, living and working between Germany and Switzerland. She believes that all people have the power to challenge preconceived notions and break through inauthentic social expectations and standards of beauty.

In her work, Andrea visualizes diverse voices by people and small businesses. These colorful depictions question the status quo and tell stories of uniqueness and feminism. Her goal is to use her artwork to create a truly diverse and representative visualization of today’s society and beliefs. Her commission project for Artist Development Fund is focused on visibility for the underrepresented, and will feature womxn, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the variation of body types and their beauty through her illustrations.