Interview/Chat With Visual Artist Nando Nkrumah.
NN: Am Nando Kwabena Nkrumah, born at the Komfo Anokye hospital in 1979 and lived with my family near the Kumasi Sports Stadium and one year after my birth we moved to Nhyiaeso. I have not much memory of those days but I remember the garden where I used to play with my sister. My mother is a german visual merchandiser and my father was an industrial clerk but in those days he worked at the registrar's office at KNUST.
Although I didn't grow up my entire childhood in Ghana it makes a big difference for me to be born there. The Akan culture is something I deeply researched in terms of arts and craft and it is part of my visual work. Some facts like the Komfo Anokye hospital as my birth place drove me to research the story of the Asante Kingdom on a deeper level when I was a young adult and it is fueling my creativity until today. It gave me a durable backbone for my work as an Visual Artist, Designer and Innovator.
ZA: You moved to Germany at age 3. What are some of your unique experiences as an African child growing up in Europe and did you have if any, an experience of people relating to you differently as a person of colour?
NN: In the 80s there weren't many Ghanaians in the area where we lived in Germany, which was near Bonn. So I joined my father often to travel with him from one town to the next to meet friends from Ghana there. It was an interesting experience to see the Ghanaian community surrounded by the typical german environment.
There have been many struggles as a black child for me and in general for my whole family because we moved from Africa to a small german village, where my grandparents lived. The list is long. But I also remember the good days and inspiring people that I have met on my path from all over the world. Nevertheless I didn't forget our struggles as black children and this made me decide to empower other young people sitting in the same boat especially children with my work as an Artist.
ZA: Has being a Visual Artist always been your career choice growing up or it came along the way, and if so at what peroid?
NN: I always enjoyed drawing and I think my mother who was painting often inspired me. But there has been a moment when I really felt that there is a power in the visual artistic expression – something like a super power that has a direct effect and impact in your life. Additionally I wanted to understand how the industrial things are made which surround us. That was at age 16.
ZA: What has been the experiences so far working as a Visual Artist and do you do other things aside Art?
NN: For me being an Artist means to have full control of your work without compromises. This is something that is challenged on a daily basis in our lives. I have created a lot of work within the context of decolonization during the last years and I belive Art can be the best instrument for a positive change in the world and within us. Beside Art I do Design and 3D-Animation. It is a cultural thing if you divide between Art and Design or not. I came to the conclusion that there is no division but some institutions who marked art want to divide it.
ZA: What inspires your paintings/art in general?
NN: Basically three things inspire me: Moments in my life, the culture of the past and the visions of a future. So creating art is like dreaming and sharing this dream I guess.
ZA: What are some of the projects your outfit has undertaken, achievements and Honors/Awards received if any?
NN: The latest achivement was that a huge museum in Cologne asked me to do an intervention. Usually I don't care about awards and prefer uncomissioned interventions but to see the response of people experience my installation in a public museum underlined my confidence.
I have also worked with many Black Activists in Germany on videos, exhibitions and publications who are artists, writers, musicians, scientists and these colaborations are the greatest honors for me. To name a few, they have been projects with Donia Touglo, Natasha A. Kelly and Stephen Lawson.
ZA: Any platforms across the globe where you have showcased your work?
NN: In Ghana I have exhibited two times at the Chale Wote Festival in Accra, Jamestown and the Art scene in Ghana has a great influence on my life and art.
In Europe I have showcased work in Cologne, Berlin and Barcelona.
ZA: Would you say being a visual artist has been rewarding and are there any challenges you face in your line of work?
NN: I think the reward is mental freedom which you can not get with money. There are still challenges in terms of how the ideal structure looks within where I operate but it is important to question your routine and infrastructure constantly to improve. I feel happy for the place where art has brought me so far.
ZA: You have a new project on footwear design. Tell us extensively about it and what inspired this project!
NN: Yes, recently I have founded a footwear and apparel label named "I WILL RISE“.
It is about what the perfect sneaker of my dreams would be. The sneaker consist of Kente cloth as well as vegan leather. Everything is manufactured with the highest quality standards.
Not only is this project about the creation of fair, vegan and sustainable footwear. It also contains an important message for 2021; Reconnection.
The idea is to create a product that connects continents, creates jobs and let Ghanaian culture shine. This label is very important for me because I like to see change not only in beautiful paintings but also in everyday products like shoes.
ZA: What drives you?
NN: I believe we are all here for something. That is my motivation.
ZA: What do you do to relax / Any leisure interests?
NN: Beside my artistic work I like to skate, listen to music, read math books and most important spend time with my family and friends.
ZA: Any advice especially to any young artist out there striving to achieve their dreams!
NN: First of all you need to organize. Surround yourself with people who love what you do. And don't listen to people who want to tell you what you can't do, just stay persistent. You should also ask for support from companies and the goverment while having a clear strategy and plan. Then work hard until idols become rivals and use the power of the internet to showcase your work to the world. Last but not least you should move out of your nest from time to time. As creatives we sometimes stick on our old pathes and hide under a rock. This is important to create something that is unique and detatched from the turbulent world arround us, but real human to human interaction is also important. So link, meet and travel from time to time.
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