Forty five years after the legendary rock artist Jimi Hendrix made his last song, in August 2015, multidisciplinary designer and artist Franck Tawema created the legend’s portrait, made up of tiny pieces of gold cubes, creating a mesmerising and captivating 3D collage. This was Franck's tribute to the iconic musician, thanking him through the thing he loves doing, making art.





Meticulously giving life to little golden cubes, London-based designer and artist Franck Tawema creates golden paper illustrations by seemingly combining hundreds of cubes and stacking them on top of a thicker layer of paper in order to bring it to life in three dimension. In this way, the images he creates not only stand out, they also reach out to you with an arresting narrative as you look through them, at yourself. Playing with depth, reflection and shadow, his intricate designs are created with only rulers and scalpels. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jay-z, Kanye West, former president Obama as well as author Malcom Gladwell have all been created with his knife, in his quest to find new ways to push and innovate through his craft.

As a boy, he would play with random objects he would find on the street, and combine them in order to create new things. Franck was one of those kids who would draw out his school assignment instead of writing them out. His love for analog and visual crafting remains to this day, even though he manages to blend in a little digital magic, allowing for the two worlds to collide. Almost like a surgeon, what Franck does requires patience, accuracy and precision.

Creative discipline, a clear head, and many hours of concentration are what is needed every time he creates one of his artwork.

A precise grid is first mapped out and scored onto a gold sheet of paper, before being cut out and transferred onto a thicker piece of white board, lifting up the whole artwork and creating depth. Cutting both the gold sheet and the thick board by hand requires a steady hand and a Zen mind. And then, the fun begins. Carefully following the outline of the subject, he counts, marks and pins a hole at key points along the contour of his subject before cutouts begin to take shape. The more complex the subject, the more time is required. This is the art of handcrafted golden illusion.  

Franck’s day job is 3D designer at Imagination, an agency that dabbles in various aspects of design for the built environment and events, with clients like Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and Harrods, winning several awards along the way. Devoting his free time to what he refers to as a 'pastime' has led him to interesting design collaborations with household influencers like Ebonee Davis. His approach to making his artwork is, however, what stands out and his singular mastery is proof that when you dedicate yourself to your inner hunger for creation, whatever you get your hands on can, as you can see, be turned into gold.

Dopeness... So beautiful!
— Ebonee Davis
Beautiful! It feels like i’m in the possession of something that will be in high demand in the very near future.
— Samantha Wills
Wow I’m so grateful for this piece of artwork! Can’t wait to hang it up on my wall!
— Fifi Rong