Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards the arts?

I was born in Kumasi, Ghana in West Africa. I moved to South London as a toddler. I went to primary and little bit of secondary school there and it’s while living in London that I caught the art bug. Not really sure how it is nowadays but the school system really encouraged the arts. So I was always drawing posters for projects and I also started keeping sketch books. Moved to America and went to middle school and high school in Northern Virginia. Around that time the DMV area was rich with black clothing companies that used young local artist to design clothing. Companies like Rugid Wear, City Life and Shooters all run by young black people inspired me to start painting on clothes in High School. I eventually ended up working or being commissioned to do work for some of these companies, which helped me learn a lot about graphic design and using my art to start a business.

 

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Your first memory or interpretation of visual art

I have two. The art on my dads records is the first. He had collections of High-Life music from Ghana, Soul music from the United States and Pop music from England. Secondly, the patterns on all the wax cloth my mom kept in this big iron case. How certain colors where always worn at traditional funerals and how another group of colors were only used at a baby dedication.

 

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Were your family and friends always supportive of your work?

Well being the first born of first generation Africans immigrants, art was looked down upon. They wanted to hear me say I want to be a doctor, engineer or pharmacist. Even though they looked down upon it, they didn’t discourage me. My uncle got me my first painting set complete with the easel on my 10th birthday. When I got to high school and started making t-shirts and selling them is when they really started to turn around and understand that it’s something they should look at seriously. This is soo important to me, because a lot of young Africans go through this same situation and don’t receive any encouragement at all. I want them to be able to see they aren’t alone out there and not to give up with their craft.

 

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How many man hours do your pieces average and which piece took the longest to date?

It really depends on the size of the piece I am working on. I can spend an hour or two on a small sketch and two days on a 2 ft canvas. It really depends on my mood and focus level. Plus I really like working on multiple things at the same time. I did a “Poetic Justice” inspired piece with an Ancient Egyptian art twist. Which took about 3 days, that definitely would be the longest. I had a certain vision that I wanted to go for. So I took my time to make sure it was right. But most of the time I just work and work and work on new concepts for days. I love being inside my space with my tea, pastries, nag champa, music and God willing rain outside.

 

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How long are your working intervals before you need to recoup?

I just go all day, but try to take a mid day nap and maybe one in the evening. I’m up all night mostly, I’m not really cool with sleep. If I didn’t have to sleep, I would definitely be a happy man.

 

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How do you determine what will be your next piece or any practices, rituals or a process that inspires the direction of future work?

I’m always on Instagram and Tumblr screen shooting and liking things that spark my interest or give me ideas. I also make sure to write down any ideas that might randomly come to me.

 

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What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or friends when pursuing a passion?

People will always push their insecurities on you, so you should look to people who are making moves in the same interest you have. They should look to people like minded for inspiration. We tend to concern ourselves with the comments of people who don’t live our reality. There’s the correct community for everyone.

 

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If you could could spend the weekend with any artist (past or present) who would it be and why?

Being a big Fela fan, I would have to say, Lemi Ghariokwu. He created the art for Fela’s albums. I would love to hear his explanation of his work. I used to just stare at his work while listening to Fela. It’s so on point!

 

Fela

 

If you could only rework one of your pieces for the rest of your life or chose a subject you have yet to attempt but rework for the rest of your life, what piece or subject would it be?

It would be my AFRIKher piece. Everything just works with it. The colors are bright and they fuse together perfectly and the image and style just makes it beautiful. I had no plans on exactly what it would end up looking like. I just want to keep infusing African images with modern styles I grew up on. The AFRIKher piece really did that.

 

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Most humorous or strangest reaction/story regarding your work

I was live painting at an event during the summer and while I was painting the woman figure. This sister came up behind me and asked me why the figure that I was drawing was lighter skinned. It just startled me, I didn’t know how to respond.

 

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Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…

A clean room and work space. Incense burning and my “TEAM NO SLEEP” Spotify playlist in the background. Either that or I have a movie or a TV show playing. I have to have something playing in the background, so nowadays I’m very big on podcasts. I’m a big fan of Where’s My 40 Acres, Combat Jack, Serial and Get Up On This.

 

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Biggest obstacle to date

I had a lot of life changing events happen to me in the mid 20′s, that had forced me to moved from the DMV area to Kansas and Texas. After some time, I was comfortable but I wasn’t happy. So about 2 years ago I packed up everything and drove back to the DMV area. I told myself that I would not get a job and live off my art. The first year was very rough, just trying to get my rent together became a struggle. But thanks to the Most High, it has gotten better through time. I just figured that with a 9 to 5 I was still broke. So why don’t I just be broke doing what I love! But most importantly work daily on my craft and build towards my future. A lot of us sacrifice so much of our happiness and talent to be comfortable in Babylon’s system.

 

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What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned?

NEVER BE AFRAID OF CHANGE! Step out and go for YOURS! Don’t think life is over or that it’s too late to reinvent yourself.You can experience soo much if you get out of your comfort zone. Being a child of Ghanaian immigrants that have gotten up and moved across the world twice. I’ve leaned that it’s okay to except change in your life.

 

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Current music playlist

I’m soo big on music!!!! Growing up in South London I feel in love with Lovers Rock Reggae music . So I always have old school reggae playing, artists like Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott, Peter Hunnigale and Beres Hammond. But more recently, I’ve been listening to MoRuf’s mixtape “Shades.Of.Moo”, anything Denitia and Sene, Tory Lanez, Shatta Wale, BJ The Chicago Kid, Protoje and Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s album Pinata, but my playlist is full of a little of everything. I can go from listing to some old school Ghanaian High Life music to UK Grime to Dancehall to some 90′s Hip-Hop and R&B.

 

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Future projects

Just want to grow as an artist! More live art shows and events.

 

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@truthdondie