Can you give us a bit of your background? when did you start making art?
I studied Art and design at Camberwell college of art and design. I believe it is now part of the University of arts. Then I went on to study Interior design and technology at London Metropolitan University from where I graduated in 2006. It was only recently that I began pursuing art in earnestness.
I was trying to find my own way of working and was experimenting with a lot of different techniques, both graphically and through three dimensional work. I was looking at lots of different things like programming and telling stories in three dimentional environments, model making, products and fashion. My golden portraits are a natural progression.
Where does the inspiration behind your work come from?
There is no one single source of inspiration behind my work, rather, It's a combination of influences. I would say that interesting artists works especially cubist artists like Cezanne, Picasso and Braques coupled with modern architects like Le Corbusier and Louis Khan certainly inspire me. I guess that is where the symbolic, geometric, and architectural nature of my work comes from. Also, I've always been fascinated by the great pyramids. the fact that they were built using a very precise and systematic method, a perfect combination of art and science. Then, I would say my normal day-to-day life, the music I listen to, people I admire etc... Discovering new things or seeing things from new perspectives is what I mostly enjoy doing.
I'm trying to add a layer of 'me'. Not just in the way my work looks, but how they feel, how they're made and the experience it gives the viewer. I like to think that my work takes you on a journey, revealing influences of cubism, african art and architecture.
Walk us through your work process. Do you precisely set out each composition in advance or do you experiment while putting it together? Is the whole process digital or is there an element of manual labour like sketching also involved?
The process of making my work is as important and possibly more important to me than the finished piece, I find it to also be very calming and meditative.
My work has really developed and changed over the last few months. It took a while for me to really figure out the technical aspects of how a paper cut works, so there were some disasters. I have become a lot more confident in knowing what will work and what won’t, so I work much more organically than I did in the beginning.
I always start from an emotional place. From being aware of information I consume and how it affects me. For example I did a piece for the super model Ebonee Davis. Her content always inspired me so I decided to do a profile of her. Or when Jay-z's album 444 came out, the words spoke to me so I made one of him too. I make the work whenever I'm inspired. Then I start researching in order to find what makes those people or things iconic in form. I look at photographs, live performances etc.. and later on I transcribe the form I choose onto my digital canvas made up of simple pixel-like squares, and I try to capture the essence of that form or figure. Sometimes I start with a photograph but there are times when I need to modify, add or subtract from it in order for it to work. That part is done through sketching.
I love the possibilities of a constrained canvas, even though my process isn't necessarily without challenges. I first draw a simple guide for the layout on a digital canvas, drawing the subject organically as I begin the mapping process. The result is a 'pixelated' golden portrait made up of cubes.
The use of gold is a prominent feature in your Pieces. What attracted you to gold in particular?
There are several reasons why I chose gold. Firstly, gold and bronze in particular are dominant metals with which art is made in the part of Africa I'm from, so I guess that influenced my choice. Secondly I love philosophy and spirituality. In philosophical literature, there is a huge amount of references related to reflections and depths of mind and soul. So choosing a reflective material as the dominant feature in my work was obvious. Lastly, I wanted a material that communicated boldness and strength and wasn't an easy or safe option. Gold was obviously a good choice.
A lot of your pieces depict popular figures and forms . What lies behind this preference?
Like I said I make my work based on what inspires me. So all the pieces I craft are either based on inspiration, history or memories. I then try to turn them into a set of iconic sculptural pieces. My subjects vary and can be anything from a popular figure, to an artists I admire, to a social media influencer, or even icons and monuments. They all count as portraits to me. In all those pieces, the primal sense of mystery and excitement is what I'm looking for. Then I try to mix it with contemporary culture. I love the idea of making you look twice. That element of surprise is important to me. The goal in doing my work has never been to provide answers. It's more of an inquisitive exercise.
Is there a particular meaning behind the title of your pieces?
Yes, the title of my series and works play on their pixelated digital look, mixed with the fact that they are all hand crafted. I really like the idea of quantifying my work and seeing it 'becoming' and 'updating'. We frequently update software, so why not art...
You have mentioned being a designer too. How does do you balance both art and your design in your own work? Do you keep them separated?
For me art and design are creativity's best match. They each require different but complimentary mindsets. For example when I started making art I was still thinking like a designer. Designers tend to have paying clients and are more service driven, so they tend to pivot and tweak in order to find satisfactory solutions that meet the client's requirements. So I would get disappointed when someone disliked my art. When an artist thinks this way, they give up or they try to convince others and end up with mediocre work. What I've come to realise is that this is precisely what art isn't about. Art is meant to polarise audiences. It's meant to say: 'This is what I am. If you don't like it it's not for you.' As a designer you can't really say that to your clients unless you're famous. So to answer the question, I try to integrate both the best way I can because they complement one another.
What are you working on right now? How do you envision the future of your work?
I am working new series and developing print versions. I have plans to make much larger pieces too using the same process, which will further extend the range. I’m always looking to expand ways to diversify my work without loosing its essence.