Gateway to Paradise
In his digital artworks, the Ghanaian artist Nana Kwadwo (Nk) focuses on describing
the Black experience & the progression of Black and African culture.
We talked with him about creating digitally, the Ghanaian art
scene and what it means to be an Afrocentric artist.
For people who don’t know you: who are you and how did you get into art?
My name is Nana Kwadwo and I’m an Afrocentric digital artist. I’ve always had a passion for drawing. I would make compositions of items within my surroundings and paste them on the walls of my parent’s rooms. My interest in digital art peaked around the ages of 14 and 15. I started making digital art in 2017 where I created 2D pieces on the PicsArt app on a phone at home. Eventually, I gained access to the Adobe Photoshop software. Around early 2020 I had a creative block and was desperate to find new sources of inspiration. Over time, I came to the realization that my inspiration surrounded me and that I shouldn’t have to force creativity. I did more research on Afrocentric art and stepped out of my comfort zone to create my first Afrocentric and Afro-futurism pieces, “Gateway to Paradise” and “Modernization”.
Tell us a bit more about your work.
My pieces are centered around the expression of development in the Black experience and the progression of our culture. They convey the idea of a brighter future for the African society to my audience. I try to factor in Futurism in making my pieces whether it’s how my models are dressed, their accessories, or represented by items that surround them. I create with the idea that whenever a person views my work, they should be able to insert themselves into a piece and envision themselves in a possible world or future where they thrive. Being an Afrocentric artist, my work positively reflects traditional African values. Disseminating Africa and the progression of our culture is what I try to put forward in my pieces.
You work digitally. What does that offer you if you compare it to working analogically?
Working digitally offers me the advantage of easy access to various materials and mediums which I can use to convey my ideas as compared to if I was working physically where I might have been limited. Working digitally also makes it easy to work quickly and also more efficiently. When using physical media, it may take a while to make duplicates of some of my pieces when requests are made by clients but with digital media it becomes easier and also can be done more accurately.
How is your creative process- from an idea to the finished piece?
Well, I spend a lot of time outside, paying attention to various items in my surrounding environment. I always carry along a sketchbook and a pen or pencil where I make rough sketches of whatever objects I feel inspire me. Later I try to gather some more ideas on the internet to support the rough sketch. I use the ideas and sketches as a foundation for my digital art pieces. Developing art pieces is a really interesting process for me. The difference between the original idea and the end result may end up being very vast. I listen to music while creating, to help me stay focused. It connects me to my work and sometimes even has an influence on how I work and what methods I use.
What have you been working on recently?
Recently I’ve delved more into incorporating the use of Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence in making and generating my art and also to create a more immersive experience for my audience.
How is the art scene where you live and what are the challenges that you face as a young emerging artist?
Ghana has a remarkable pool of talent when it comes to the creative scene, especially the growing art scene. However digital artists here in Ghana are rarely acknowledged and therefore opportunities for digital artists are very few. Also, the technology required for digital art exhibits isn’t in availability making it even harder for an artist like myself to get my work out into the public eye. I think provided the right resources and support, we will be able to push our messages even further and develop the art scene even more.
Re-envisioning, 2022: Re-imagining a future of art, technology and fashion through a black lens. I wanted to express afrofuturism in a way that was very different to many afrofuturistic art pieces. I’m also very intrigued by fashion and wanted to express this in these pieces. Also a vintage theme to provide a natural feel of the images.
Any fellow emerging artists you’d like to recommend?
Jemima Gaisie, digital artist from Ghana, Boama Francis, photographer & digital artist, Jamal Mashood, photographer, Marcel Tettey, visual Artist, Aba Morganite, digital Artist, Dolittle Kwaku Sintim-Aboagye, visual Artist
What are your hopes for the future?
I’d like my art to be perceived and regarded globally. Being able to be a part of the Afrocentric and Afro-futuristic digital art movement is a big dream of mine that is already starting. I’m at a very early stage as a creative, but in a couple of years I’d want to be able to be seen as an inspiration for other young African artists. This continent – this world needs all the diverse expressions it can get.
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