Kugali Spotlight: Shofela Coker

Kugali Spotlight: Shofela Coker

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Kugali Spotlight: Shofela Coker

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art? 

SC: My brother was my earliest influence, and strongest source of belief that I could pursue a career in the specific branch of art that I chose to pursue. Of course, my father was an art professor and muralist, so I always believed that it was possible to support myself or a family in the arts. Both my parents always encouraged and supported me every step of the way.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

SC: My entire family is art oriented. That conversation with the family never happened. I’ve always been interested in the creative arts so people close to me always assumed I’d do that despite the impracticality of that career in Lagos. I thought I’d make a good archaeologist when I was younger though 😀

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process? 

SC: I do believe in curating the professional face of my work and maintaining the quality of work I publish, but I’m an even stronger proponent of carving out a separate space to ‘play’ whether digitally or in a small community of other artists. I don’t do it often enough, but a platform, say publishing sketches on Instagram for instance, is essential for me to keep my ideas and skills elastic. In the end, I believe this play space feeds my professional work.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

SC: Outcasts of Jupiter. It was a collaborative process with my brother I had looked forward to for such a long while. From inception to Kickstarter and eventually production, was thrilling. There were some lows, but the highs and seeds we planted for the future are exciting.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why? 

SC: I worked for an ad agency in Lagos. I naively didn’t sign a contract and didn’t get paid for 3 months of work.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece. 

SC: I sketch an idea first to explore my unbiased opinion of the subject then collect reference, then sketch again. I try to pull from unusual sources unrelated to the idea in the hopes that the visual language is richer. This then takes on the form of an illustration, comic or sculpture created in Photoshop or Zbrush. Story is important to me so these steps are always guided by a desire to impart some weight of meaning to my visual ideas. I strive to create a dialogue with the audience no matter what media my work is filtered through.  At times though, I treat the whole process as play time and just see what happens improvisationally.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art? 

SC: A strong recognisable voice translated and supported by knowledge and awareness of one’s self, art history, and culture.

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind? 

SC: Rodin

K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say? 

SC: Quiet the brain noise by taking the time to live life more. Work will always be there waiting for you.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists? 

SC: Alex Toth/Mignola, Rodin, Juanjo Guarnido, David Mazzucchelli & Gustav Klimt

K: Describe your art in a sentence? 

SC: Always attempting the elusive ‘sprezzatura’

K: What can we expect from you in the future? 

SC: An animated documentary film project releasing this year called Liyana and more Outcasts of Jupiter.

4 Graphic Novels We Can’t Wait to Read

4 Graphic Novels We Can’t Wait to Read

 

Last year we saw the success of some great titles such as Is’nana the Were-Spider, Yohance and Tuskegee Heirs to name a few. Luckily for us, there is more great content to look forward to here are four unique & original stories that we can’t wait to read.

 

1) Giallo Gumbo (story by Jahni Kwatrae, art by Wellingthon Nommo)

The human world and the world of the supernatural exist separately but equally; sharing the same astral plane at times. There are few who straddle the the line with the ability to walk amongst both worlds. These gifted beings see phenomenons and travel to places unknown to many who live in either world. Paavi Peyrou is one who has the ability to straddle this plane. In the human world limelight she’s a famous R&B/Hip-Hop singer diva. In the nocturnal world of the paranormal, she is the occult detective who operates under the nom de guerre, Risqué. As Risqué she hunts, slays, and solves mysteries that poses a threat to anything or anyone who jeopardize the existence of either world. As Paavi she is a talented singer, performer, and actress. In series Giallo Gumbo the Paavi takes the reader on a journey where they encountering those in the industry: producers, musicians, rappers, singers, actors, and filmmakers etc. In the occult society, Risqué is our tour guide who meets demigods, demons, monsters, magicians, ninjas, samurais etc. What is good, shall remain that and the same applies for that which is evil. In Giallo Gumbo the rules are played very differently especially when forbidden love occurs between Risqué and her archnemesis Stańczyk

To pre-order issue 0 click here

 

2) Detective Lancaster Bleu (Art & Story by Ron Ackins)

Detective Lancaster Bleu is a densely plotted futuristic drama with hints of film noir that takes place in America 40 to 50 years in the future after the Third world war decimates Western Civilization. Before World War 3 is over America is strategically bombed and reduced to a chaotic barbaric dystopic environment. The only place in America unaffected is a brand new city secretly built in the former state known as Arizona. Construction is funded entirely by a newly united West African country for African Americans and those seeking solitude from a corrupted western culture. The main character is Lancaster Bleu, a former heavyweight boxing champion who enlists into the Marines and fights in WW3. During the war Bleu’s God given gift, the ability to manipulate and interact with the Earth’s electromagnetic field manifests. Unable to control his newly manifested gift, the Marines issue Bleu 2 sets of gloves. One set called “Amps”, amplify his power, while the other set called, “Damps” dampen his power. One set offensive, the other defensive. After the war, Bleu returns home to the desolated ruins of America and eventually finds his way to the brand new city where he eventually joins the police force. The series will follow Bleu’s exploits as he masters self, his God-given gift and steps into the role of heroic leader thus ensuring the survival of African America’s first city.

To read the prologue click here

 

3) The Invention of E.J. Whitaker (Story by The Gibbs Sisters, Art by Mark Hernandez, Hasani McIntosh & Earl Womack)

The industrial revolution has given impetus to a host of technological advancements prompting many inventors to rush to secure patents and receive recognition for their efforts. Among them is Ada Turner, a brilliant inventor who faces a great challenge as a Black woman in a highly racist and patriarchal society. In an attempt to erase the double glass ceiling above her she goes adopts the pseudonym, E.J. Whitaker. Trouble ensues when her latest invention, a flying machine, garners national attention and she is pursued by wealthy businessmen who wish to procure her creation for their own financial gain. Follow Ada in this sci-fi adventure and she undergoes a journey of transformation and rediscovery.  

For more information click here

 

4) KARIBA (Story & art by Blue Forest Collective)

KARIBA is a fantasy-adventure graphic novel inspired by the mythology and history surrounding the construction of one of the Kariba dam in the 1950s which was said to be undermined repeatedly by the river God, Nyami-Nyami. The story follows Sikuthe (the daughter of the river) and Amadeo (the son of the engineer in charge of the dams construction). Unaware of who her father is Siku must journey upriver to discover the answers to the mystery of her powers, and the strange events occurring in the river and its surrounding forests.

For more information click here

 

Kugali Spotlight: Etubi Onucheyo

Kugali Spotlight: Etubi Onucheyo

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Kugali Spotlight: Etubi Onucheyo

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

EO: I always say that I am one of the luckiest artists out there. As far close friends and family go I never had any other thing but support.

K: That’s great to hear, especially coming from a Nigerian family

EO: Yeah I know

K: So what gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

EO: That same support. Initially, I wanted to do a regular course like economics or something but my dad looked at my grades and said “come my boy, you can do economics too but from ya grades since nursery school you have excelled in arts do something that you can wake up and do without stress than something that would cause you stress “

K: Your father is a wise man

EO: Yes he is

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

EO: No not really, I have changed my process based on what I learn

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

EO: Mehn!! For now it’s Mumu Juju because I am free to bend it as I deem fit

K: Creative freedom at it’s best, describe your worst job or project and why?

EO: Wow. Takes me back, I don’t wanna go into details but I was doing designs for maybe $10 or less back then and this dude couldn’t pay for the final image. So I said when he was ready he would pay and get his image right? But no, this guy took the low res image I sent via WhatsApp and posted it all over his social media, printed CDs with the art on it and used it as the CD jacket as well while he hadn’t paid me.

K: That must have been irritating, to say the least.

EO: Lol I know

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece?

EO: For inspiration it is highly random. I could just be sitting in hunger and wanting to someone to make a meal for me and BOOM!! Concepts or characters are born. But my constant stream of inspiration comes from all things animated, games, stories and all things drawn. I have no discrimination.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

EO: Practice, at some point practice makes everything you look easy

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

EO: First off new Mumu Juju then all a lot of series of illustrations

K: I’m looking forward to seeing what trouble Pestle and Mortar get into next. Kugali Laboratories has developed a time machine that can only go back five years into the past. You have 15 seconds to talk to your younger self, what would you say?

EO: Guy!!!! Leave all these things, draw my friend!!!!

K: What is your favourite Illustration or design and what artists do admire?

EO: Too many!!!! But right now, Dofus, it’s a French cartoon and it’s blowing my mind. Apart from that Black dynamite, Gumball, Mehn too many. As for the artists LeSean Thomas, Edwin Huang, Jeffrey Cruz, Loish and also my personal art friends Mohammed Agbadi, Harrison Tombra, Ifesinachi Adrian, Orjiekwe Bolaji Olaloye. I live anything these guys touch.

K: When you think of beautiful what is the first thing that comes to mind?

EO: Women!!! Lol but seriously in all my art, I have discovered to myself that there is nothing as beautiful as the female body and mind.

K: Thank you very much for your time we’re looking forward to more issues of Mumu Juju. 

For more art check out his: Facebook

Kugali Spotlight: Hasani Claxton

Kugali Spotlight: Hasani Claxton

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Kugali Spotlight: Hasani Claxton

 

Hasani Claxton is a visual artist, writer and educator from St. Kitts, West Indies. His love of art began with drawing in the first grade, but he did not initially pursue an art career. He studied Business Management at Morehouse College (1999) and Law at Columbia University (2003). While serving as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, he began taking evening classes at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. In 2005, he decided to pursue his passion full time and enrolled in Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In 2009, he earned his BFA in illustration. His commissions have included book illustrations, album covers, portraits, and murals. His artwork has been exhibited in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe. He made Afropunk.com’s “Best of 2014” list and his work has appeared in Creative Quarterly. He currently teaches drawing at Towson University where he is working towards an MFA in Studio Art (expected May 2017).

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

HC: I grew up in St. Kitts, West Indies, where art is generally not considered a “real job”, so I did what was expected of me and became a lawyer. I was working as a prosecutor in the Bronx, hating every minute of it, and started taking night classes at the School of Visual Arts, which became my refuge from the stress and drudgery of my day job. About 2 years into it I decided I didn’t want to spend the next 20-40 years of my life in a job I despised and enrolled in Art School full time. K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art HC: My wife was very supportive since she saw first hand how miserable I was as a lawyer. The rest of my family was supportive, or at least they didn’t voice any objections to my face. I suspect that was partly because they figured I already had a law degree to fall back on.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

HC: My wife was very supportive, since she saw first hand how miserable I was as a lawyer. The rest of my family was supportive, or at least they didn’t voice any objections to my face. I suspect that was partly because they figured I already had a law degree to fall back on.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

HC: I’m constantly studying other artists’ methods and experimenting with new techniques. I also adjust my process based on the needs of each project. For example, illustration commissions usually have a tight deadline so I use digital painting in the pre-visualization phase to speed things along. In contrast, with paintings meant for a gallery I’ll do countless drawings by hand to nail down my composition.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

HC: My favorite project is the “Rise of the Afrotaku” series I just finished. It was my Master’s Thesis and combined my love of anime with socio-political commentary about bigotry and police brutality.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

HC: My first job out of art school was a commission to paint a black steel worker. It’s not a subject matter that usually interests me, but that’s what the client wanted. I spent a month on it, including research. When it was done, the client disappeared, stopped returning my emails and calls. That was in 2009 and painting is still sitting in my closet.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

HC: For paintings, I’m usually inspired by something in history or contemporary pop culture. I do my research, print out pictures related to my subject matter and line the walls of my studio with them. I then do as many thumbnail sketches as I can. These are so rough that they look like scribbles to everyone else but me. I narrow these down to my 2 favourites and do more developed sketches of those 2, then pick the one I prefer. I take reference photos to figure out lighting and anatomy and do my final pencils. I transfer the pencils to my canvas using a projector or the grid method then do an underpainting in sepia acrylic paint.

Most of the oil painting is done in a single layer. I’ll go over that layer with translucent washes of to enhance highlights and adjust colours. For sculptures, I do the same amount of research. I basically sketch in 3D by doing small maquettes in Sculpey (polymer clay). I sculpt in oil-based clay (Chavant or Monster Clay) then do a mould making and casting process similar to that use to make movie makeup effects. I make a mould of the sculpture in polyurethane. I pour silicone into the mould then brush in resin to make the skull. I paint the silicone with diluted silicone pigment then punch the hair.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

HC: Practising the craft and developing your ideas. Particularly if you do realism, it takes a very long time to hone your skills, which is why it’s important to draw and paint from life as much as possible. I think of art as a visual language and those skills make up your vocabulary. Once you learn the vocabulary the question becomes, “what do you have to say?” When inspiration strikes, you don’t want to go with your first sketch. Do as many sketches a possible to flesh our your ideas and find the best way to communicate them.

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind?

HC: Gustav Klimt

K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say?

HC: Networking is crucial for an artist. Cultivate any contacts you make.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?

HC: In no particular order

– Kerry James Marshall

– Takashi Murakami

– Bernard Rancillac

– Gustav Klimt

– Evan Penny

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

HC: My artwork challenges popular misconceptions regarding black people, our culture and our history.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

HC: Once I finish up the Afrotaku series, I plan to do a set large scale paintings and sculptures dealing with the issue of internalised racism and how it affect the self-esteem of black people.

 

For more of his artwork check out his: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Kugali Spotlight: Deji Digital

Kugali Spotlight: Deji Digital

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Deji Digital

K: First and foremost welcome and thank you for taking part

DD: Thanks brother, really appreciate it

K: Let’s start off with the beginning of your artistic journey, what gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

DD: To be honest it was watching movies when I was younger. No matter how young I was, some part of me understood that very hard working people somehow contributed to what I was seeing. I didn’t know how, but I knew people made the dinosaurs I’m seeing (Jurassic Park) and I just wanted to be one of those people. And as I got older, started watching behind the scenes, my suspicions were confirmed and saw that yes, there’s a career in art. Just look at all the video games and movies I enjoy.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you want to pursue a career in art

DD: My family was disappointed but they came around when I showed them there’s a livelihood when they saw art as a career was more than trying to sell paintings of portraits at the beach side. My mum allowed me to go to university to study 3D animation in films and games. My close friends are people I met in university doing the same or similar degrees so no reaction from them. We were all doing the same thing.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

DD: No not at all. whatever quality anyone expects is always individually based and completely subjective which does nothing for me. most of them aren’t artists themselves and don’t know any better. If I started caring about that, I’d lose my mind. The only person who’s quality expectations affect my work in any way is me. which is perfect because I’m never satisfied.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

DD: Can’t say I only just started freelancing and everything I’m doing is under NDA

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

DD: Same answer, NDA

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

DD: It all starts with an image in my head. Nothing crazy. Everyone can imagine. I may be doing anything. Watching an anime, playing a game, going for a walk, heck even working on a farm. Then an image pops into my head but it’s never really clear. It’s memory after all. So actually, more so than an image, it’s more an idea. So now it’s time to break out the sketchbook. Here I work out poses and camera angles that best represent the aforementioned idea. Also the characters props, gadgets and weapons. While I’m doing this, I have a lot of reference covering, clothes, expressions, armour, poses, you name it. Once I’ve figured out what I want it to look like I go into my 3D digital sculpting software of choice in zbrush and slowly build the character from the ground up. I apply paint and texture to the models then I lock the camera angle and start rendering. I take those render passes and composite them in Photoshop and there you have it… An image.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

DD: I’d say merely your opinion. After all in art, it’s all subjective and depends on personal taste. But personally originality over all. For instance, I don’t generally like fan art, doesn’t matter how well it’s done usually, Spider-Man is still Spider-Man. No matter how many panels and gadgets you add to his suit, Still Spider-Man. But that is not to say I’ve seen great fan art, it’s just mostly the monotony of seeing the same faces and aesthetics over and over again just bores me. There are many things that separate good art from great art but most importantly and universally I’d say honest, originality and authenticity.

K: When you think about beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?

DD: That’s hard to say, all I can do is tell you who my favourite artist is an even then that’d be difficult right now I’d say, Joshua Mays

K: Great choice, he’s work is amazing!

DD: Absolutely,  just an aside, after him I’d say Android Jones. But I have a bias to Mays just because his figures are black and brown exclusively.

K: So who are your top 5 artists?

DD:Joshua MaysAndroid Jones, Alex Grey, then honestly everyone else just kinda floats around in 4th place… maybe Loish… but I can’t think of a 5th.

K: You step into a phone booth and suddenly feel the ground shake and everything goes black. The earthquake stops you step outside and see your younger self (five years to be exact). What would you say?

DD: I’d say, dont worry. It gets easier. all you have to do is keep on doing it.

 

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

DD: Hhhmm, wow ok, I can’t describe my art. I’ll just say my art is me trying to tell our (africans) stories properly because only we can.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

DD: I’m looking into creating a line of collectables statues of some of the characters I’ve made as people have asked. That’s the main project right now other than making more imagery. also looking to create apparel.

K: We look forward to seeing more from you, thank you for your time. 

DD: No, thank you for this opportunity man, greatly appreciated.

 

For more of his artwork check out his: Artstation | Facebook

 

Kugali Spotlight: Welinthon Nommo

Kugali Spotlight: Welinthon Nommo

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Kugali Spotlight: Welinthon Nommo 

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

WN: I believe it was rather knowing what I really wanted in my life. To know what I wanted to do with it and above all things, to do what I most liked, drawing. Also, the power to create non-existent or imaginary things, create stories, give life to a character that in one way or another could connect with someone, feeling that way its what gave me the courage to become an artist.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you want to pursue a career in art

WN: It was never an issue to my family. I grew up in a household full of artistic and cultural experiences. My father, who is a really creative person, since he was young he got into painting, sculpting, fashion and he even made all the furniture of the house when he married my mother. It’s an awesome story hahaha… So we can say that my love for art is something that’s in my blood. My mother is the one who has given me support my whole life, for her it’s okay as long as I’m happy with whatever I’m doing.

At the school, I was always the one everyone in my classroom choose at the moment of drawing maps, the portraits of historical figures and stuff like that. When my parents, friends and relatives knew what I was going to do, it was like “I knew it”.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

WN: My creative process haven’t changed, I think that the quality of my work is the result of all those years of practice and experiences. It’s not something that changes just by the pressure of an audience or requirements of someone. Sometimes people may think that putting a lot of details and a grand variety of colors will make your work the greatest thing ever or at least better than something less detailed but, even something simple can be awesome just by having a good composition, proportion, etc. I like diversity and having new experiences from a simple to a complex illustration and I think, the people who follow me have been able to appreciate that too.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

WN: I have worked for some companies and I have been part of projects as an art director, illustrator, colorist and it’s hard to tell which my favorite is. But within those projects (video games and graphic novels) I have enjoyed the character design stage. That stage is one of those moments when you feel like a God hahahah… the fact that you are creating a persona or some being from another world makes you feel so powerful. I have enjoyed each stage of the projects I’ve been part of, because I’ve been able to grow as an artist in each of them since they require something unique during the creative process and also they make you think in all possible ways you can to solve a problem. I love illustration and I think that as long as I’m drawing and doing what makes me happy in a nice work environment, that’s the place I would like to be.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

WN: It’s true that we all have been involved in projects that we don’t like to even think about them. But based on my experience, I don’t think it’s the project itself, it’s rather the people in charge or the client who has done the request. It’s very complicated to work on something when you feel restrain, feeling that your creativity doesn’t flow naturally or the client treating you like a robot or just that the leader doesn’t know how to lead and communicate with you.

Being in a place where you cannot provide ideas and there isn’t a good interaction. It’s like being on a boat with no paddles. I had the opportunity to work on a touristic map and the clients thought that they knew more about illustration, design and composition than me, because as the sayings goes “the customer is always right”. Nobody is in the obligation to work for someone like that, at least in my opinion. So, I always try to know who I’m making business with.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

WN: It’s impossible to describe it. Because I can illustrate base on something that happen or from something on the news as well hearing people talk about some topic. I can just get inspired from another artist I like as well. Truth be told, I have no rule to start. Sometimes it has to do with my mood and what I do to deal with it. I always advise the people who ask “where do you get your inspiration from?” I always answer “from everything that’s around me”, so if you want to improve your creative process pay attention to your surroundings. And for the “creative block” look for inspiration in movies, read a book or go to a place you haven’t been before. I find it fun to look for ideas in other objects shape.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

WN: Good art needs to have what I said before: good composition, good use of proportion and to communicate an idea. That being said, good art and great art must have those quality and some others. But nowadays tell which is good and which is great, it’s something that has to do with what you like and your preferences. That why I place first the abilities of the artist and then I pay attention to the rest.

K: When you think about beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?+

WN: Absolutely hands down Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. I’m a fan of his work and specially “The Entombment of Christ”. I also like Frank Frazetta.

K: If you could go 5 years in the past to talk to your younger self what would you say?

WN: I would have a lot to say but it would be something like: It doesn’t matter how difficult you think it is, don’t stop and keep going; it doesn’t matter how hard the task is, do not question the path you’ve chosen as long as you want to do it. Even if there are people who don’t believe in you or don’t believe in what you do, trust in you. And something is really important do not get obsessed comparing your work with the work of others, focus on improving and grow every day.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?

WN:

  • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
  • Frank Frazetta
  • Kim Jung Gi
  • Joe Madureira
  • Chase Conley

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

WN: I love what I do

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

WN: Well, I’ve been working on graphic novels that are going to be available soon, also some designs for video games as well. There are a lot of thing that little by little are going to be shown very soon. I also want to thank you for the interview and the opportunity to let more people know about me.

For more of his art check out his: Facebook | Deviantart

Five African Comics for Young Readers

1) Orisha Pikin

Created by South Africa based Congolese writer Kinyidou Yamakasi, Orisha Pikin, is an urban fantasy comic series that reimagines our Yoruba deities as young mischievous infants that embark on a series of wacky adventures. The story weaves mythology and light hearted humour to create a gripping tale about love, friendship and unity.

2) Ganyamuto

Ganyamuto is a sci-fi comic book series set in the far future in a world where human are now extinct. Follow the adventures of Ganyamuto, the protector of this new world. Ganyamuto was written and created by Tinodiwa Makoni, a comic book artist based in Zimbabwe.

3) Canary 7even

Created by Drofu, a Lagos-based artist, Canary 7even is an action adventure comic book series set in the ancient realm of Nkarim, a fictional world inspired by West African history and tradition. The story follows a group of warriors known as the 7eveners and in particular, one young boy’s quest to become an Arch-7evener, the highest honour bestowed on a 7evener.

4) Kwezi

Kwezi is one of the first black South African superheroes to grace the world of comics. It is the story of a young city dweller who discovers that he has superhuman abilities. As a young man Kwezi allows his newfound powers to go to his head and uses his powers to achieve celebrity status. One day he discovers three individuals with similar abilities and for the first time Kwezi finds that he’s not alone. He joins forces with his new companions and together they embark on a mission to discover the mystery behind their strange abilities. Kwezi was written and illustrated by Loyiso Mkize, a South African visual artist based in Cape Town.

5) Dunamis

Set in Makutano, a sprawling, ramshackle settlement, the story revolves around five kids living with disabilities who discover that they are gifted with powers.  The kids initially come together to stop an evil witch doctor however, they soon become friends.  Together the kids discover their own strengths and also find support in one another as they go through life with their respective disabilities. Dunamis was created by the Avadu, an arts collective based in Nairobi.
Kugali Spotlight: Ntocha

Kugali Spotlight: Ntocha

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Kugali Spotlight: Ntocha 

 

Anthony Van Den Reysen, better known as Ntocha, is an art teacher at MJM Graphics High School. The Brazzaville-born and Paris raised artist has been drawing since he can remember. His passion for the craft led him to study 3D animation at ISARTDIGITAL (Higher Institute of Digital Art). Since then he has been working on personal projects and made several appearances in various conventions around Europe including Switzerland (Polymanga), Belgium (ComicCon Bxl) and France (Paris Manga, Japan Expo, ComicCon Paris, Paris Comics Expo, Geekopolis).

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

N: I knew very young that I liked to draw. Initially, it was for leisure but it quickly became a passion and is now a profession. Rather than courage, I think it is perseverance and motivation, actually it is hard work, which discourages most, but we must have this passion that even pushes us to go beyond our constraints and difficulty.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you want to pursue a career in art

N: It was not a surprise, rather an obvious for my loved ones. They have always supported me and still support me today.

K: Now that you are professional there is a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your process creative?

N: I am very hard with myself. I’m not looking for perfection but I’m looking to improve myself to make my job easier. My creative process is based mainly on learning and practice, these are two principles that are essential for me and that allow me to evolve. So I don’t accept the demands of others because already, we can not satisfy everyone and I challenge myself very much but that does not prevent me from being open to criticism, it also participates in my evolution.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

N: My favourite project is my current project, MAKAKU. It is a project that encompasses illustration, cartoon, video game and animation film. I begin with comics to present and set up the universe. It is a project that is close to my heart, I initiated it for almost ten years and I am only at the beginning of the adventure! There is still a long way to go.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

N: I haven’t had any bad experiences so far, it’s by chance!

K: Describe your creative process, from the point of inspiration to the realisation of a piece.

N: My creative process is quite simple, DRAWING. Draw, draw and still draw. Of course, this must be done intelligently, that’s what I’m trying to do. I also give a lot of time to learn, to review the basics because you can not master them enough! For example, I always start with a sketch to see what I understand about the theme, then I do a thorough research on the theme, a search for direct or indirectly concerned references and then begin the second sketch phase.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art ?

N: I have no particular judgment on that. It is something peculiar to everyone, it is felt for the most part. Certainly, there is technique which serves as a gauge between artists, some are more skilled than others. Art is subjective at the core, we all have different cultures, different morals and this is what influences our feelings, through our works.

K: When you think about beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?

N: I think of all those who have a lot more experience than I do, I don’t have any names in particular …

K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say?

N: I would tell him to go around the world, but it is not too late!

K: Who are your 5 favourite artists?

N: I don’t have any favourite artists in particular, I don’t like the principle of being limited to one or a few people. Of course, there are artists who inspired me like Katsuya Terada, Masashi Kishimoto, Akira Toriyama, Katsuhiro Otomo, Moebius…but it is rather the currents that inspire me, sometimes even often without knowing the artists.

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

N: My art still needs to be enriched with knowledge.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

N: The completion of my project things are getting there gradually. I have already produced the first issue of my comic MAKAKU independently. The next step is to produce the next issue and to explore this universe more and more. All I can say is stay connected!

For more of his artwork check out his: Facebook | Website | Instagram | Deviantart

Kugali Spotlight: Mikhail Sebastian

Kugali Spotlight: Mikhail Sebastian

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Kugali Spotlight: Mikhail Sebastian

This week the spotlight shines on the SCAD graduate, entrepreneur and creator of the shōnen inspired Mythallica Lux Nova. The North Carolina native has had an affinity for creativity since the tender age of 2 and has not stopped drawing since. In this interview, we take the look at the inspiration behind work of Mikhail Sebastian.

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

MS: A lot of things really. From my family to my favourite cartoons. I like to think it all played a part. A case of everything leads to something I suppose. But as a kid I was always thinking about the future. Of the things I could do. I don’t think I’d call it courage though. Because at the time I didn’t fully understand the path I was taking enough to truly fear it and have the courage to pursue it anyway. I think it was mainly naivety lead by genuine and ignorantly blissful passion. With time and effort it manifested into something that requires courage to continue doing.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

MS: My family has continued to be a major supporter of mine. My mother (Priscilla) always encouraged my sister and I to do what made us happy until it made us money and not the other way around. My mother is an educator too so to hear that her kids wanted to be creative must have been somewhat of a shock to her. But she never made us feel as if we had to follow the path that she took. Which in many ways I ended up doing myself. Even when the mindset of her generation may not fully understand it, she’s supported us. My Father (George) is the more rational one (I consider myself a rational optimist) I think for him it took him actually seeing us fully commit to it and put ourselves into our work to truly understand our pursuit. He, my mother and stepfather (Brian) proudly boast the status of our biggest fans. My sister, (Mikhala) is actually the one who originated my interest in art. She sings now but still draws from time to time. When we were younger, she wanted to do what I’m doing now. It was because of her I started to discover the creative arts. My career has always been supported and encouraged to some extent by my family.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

MS: Most certainly. I think one of the things I’m still learning to master is how to balance quality with the demand of the industry. Something I think many of my peers do well. Much more so than me. But I am very conscious about what I make now. I even often find myself prolonging my own process so that I can really be cautious of the work as I’m doing it. I do try to make it clear to people who I work with that if you want the best out of me, or any artist, you have to give us the time we need to deliver it.Describe your

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

MS: Mythallica: Lux Nova hands down. Primarily because, even though all my projects are technically mine, Lux Nova is mine in a way that is very significant and precious to me. All of the stories I write are in one way or another for myself. But I always try to consider what the audience will see or how they will perceive it. But with Lux, I am truly writing for myself. It’s a story I want to tell for me. And it’s an extensive one too that goes to levels none of the readers will anticipate from the content I have shown so far. I look forward to working on multiple things in my career all the while expanding this personal story of mine over time. Seeing the characters grow and mature with the audience.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

MS: Oh now this one is impossible to answer. Because as a freelance artist, we run into our fair share of bad projects. I think any project I’m not afforded the time or creative flexibility I need to make it to the best of my ability, I usually dislike in some manner.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

MS: Inspiration for me is inexplicable at this point. Anyone who knows me knows my story ideas are usually pretty out there. I can get inspired in the middle of a random conversation, staring out the window or even just from being in my own head too long. But when the inspiration hits I start thinking about the final piece and the requirements to execute it at the level I’d want. Which for me is more care free than anything. I always try to reassess my work flow with everything I make.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

MS: I’m having to learn (even to my own distaste at times) that good art, great art and even bad art are subjective to the viewer. Instagram and Facebook groups have taught me that. Although I do believe that societally we have vastly lowered the bar in terms of quality and taste. But the previous bar was also the result of the society built around it at the time. We are now more focused on quantity than anything. I think people respond to what they respond to for various reasons. Most of them probably not visibly apparent to them. Others may even be subliminal. If you’re putting yourself into your work and people don’t like it, they probably won’t like you is how I sort of see it. My mother always says everyone isn’t going to like you and that they don’t have to.

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind?

MS: Many things. I think of women, particularly Black women because for me personally, I’ve been taught and influenced by many powerful black women in my life. I also think of asymmetrical patterns or designs. How there always exist something to disturb the balance. I think of youth and how important it is to nurture that creativity at a young age in order to ensure beauty is brought into this world. I think there is art to literally everything around us. It’s just that we spend too much time in our own heads to see it. But I think because in some capacity I’ve been able to maintain a youthful outlook through my life it has helped my creativity because I actively look out for the beauty in everything and everyone around me. You don’t always find it. But when you do, it means something. Something that can be channelled into your art.

K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say?

MS: I’d tell him to build a time machine to go 5 years back from then to tell myself to love myself. I think it’s important to learn that lesson as early as you possibly can. I’d tell him to be true to himself and it will all come together in the end and to not worry so much.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

MS: When the ordeals of maturity doesn’t disturb your inner child.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

MS: A lot. I’m 25 and barely even started. All I am allowed to say for now, is that great things are coming.

For more art check out his: Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | YouTube | Behance

Kugali Spotlight: Manasseh Johnson

Kugali Spotlight: Manasseh Johnson

 

This week we have Manasseh Johnson a self-taught artist who currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. His artistic journey began at the age of three drawing his favourite comic book characters. After receiving encouragement from his mother he began to take art seriously. Over the years he has broadened his skill set teaching himself to airbrush, caricature, and then specialising in portraiture and realism. He has been commissioned by from clients from various countries including places like France, Australia, Israel, and Canada. His work has been featured in Colour Pencil Magazine.

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

MJ: Well most of my family recognised my talent but only a select few actually support me.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

MJ: They really never gave me an actual reaction good or bad.

#RomyRome #manassehart

A post shared by Manasseh Johnson Sr (@manasseh_art) on

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

MJ: I just put in a lot of practice and had faith in the talent God has given me.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

MJ: My favorite pieces to create are the hyperrealistic pieces. They test your patience and the outcome is usually very satisfying. I particularly love the Peyton Manning piece I created which took over 30 hrs.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

MJ: I can’t say I’ve had a ‘worst job’. I’ve enjoyed all my projects.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

MJ: I get inspired by looking at other great artists work. It really motivates me. Once I’m motivated I begin laying out a sketch usually while listening to some soulful music. After the sketch, I trace it with a light board onto the final paper. Once the final outline is laid out, I begin colouring.      

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

MJ: What separates good art from great art, in my opinion, is just simply taking creativity to the next level and thinking outside the box.

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind?

MJ: My wife and kids

K: Kugali Laboratories has created a device that allows you to could call yourself five years into the past, however, the call only lasts 15 seconds what would you say? only lasts 15 seconds what would you say to your younger self?

MJ: I would just tell myself to push my creativity to the max and stay true to myself no matter what anyone says.  

K: What is your favourite Illustration or design?

MJ: I don’t really have one particular, I love all my works, they’re my babies

K: Describe your art in a sentence

MJ: Art for the people

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

MJ: I plan to do some art shows, travel, expand my brand, maybe even host some workshops.

 

For more art check out his: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

The Ooni of Ife

The Ooni of Ife

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If you’re familiar with Nigerian history at all, chances are that you’ve heard of Oduduwa, the first Ooni of Ife. Oduduwa is revered by many as the father of all Yoruba people. By establishing the Kingdom of Ife, Oduduwa created the first notable Yoruba kingdom in history. His exploits were so legendary that following his death the Yoruba people deified him as a god.

There’s no doubt Oduduwa was a legend but who exactly was this man? Where did he come from? What exactly did he do to earn so much love and respect? The answers to these questions vary depending on which source you look at. Some say Oduduwa came from the Middle East, others say he was from Benin. Historian Samuel Johnson even goes as far as to claim Oduduwa was the son of the legendary Biblical Conqueror Nimrod.

We may never know the specific details of Oduduwa’s life and in many ways that obscurity helps to enhance the legend after all, we’re often drawn to things that are mysterious and unknown. However, this begs the question how do we tell Oduduwa’s story? There is a complete narrative about Oodua the deity but what about Oodua the king?

CGI artist, Ayo Adelagun believes we can use art to reimagine the great kings and queens of African history. We all know the old adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Therefore, maybe we don’t need a detailed historical account maybe all we need is one picture.


Adelagun created this piece in order to use art to help us remember our history. This is just the begining a series of pieces depicting african historical and mythological figures. You can follow Adelagun on his artstation however, we’ll be featuring all of these pieces on the African History Collective, a multimedia platform that explores the hidden gems of African History. Expect to see more artwork as well as animations, podcasts and much more.

The Kings and Queens of Africa

The Kings and Queens of Africa are a series of infographics presented by Kugali, a digital platform specialising in African Media. These infographics mark the beginning of the African History Collective, a series of art pieces, cartoons and podcasts that explore the hidden gems of African History.

1) Queen Nzinga aka the Tactician.

The Tactician, Queen Nzinga

The Tactician, Queen Nzinga

We’ll be posting a few more characters very soon. In the mean time please support this project and join the African History Collective today.

2) Zaynab An-Nafzawiyyah aka the Magician.

3) Musa I of Mali aka The richest ever.

Kugali Spotlight: Ronja Melin

Kugali Spotlight: Ronja Melin

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Kugali Spotlight: Ronja Melin

Ronja Melin is a twenty-something year old artist from the Stockholm archipelago, Sweden, who’s been drawing since before she can remember.  Animals and nature were her main subjects until her mid-teens, when she started reading comics and fell in love with drawing characters. After studying game art at The Game Assembly for two years, she was employed as a concept artist at Ubisoft Massive in Malmö and worked there for three years with the game Tom Clancy’s: the Division. Today, she lives in Lund and freelances as an illustrator and graphic designer. Her work can be seen in Swedish table-top roleplaying games such as Järn, Hjältarnas Tid and >Human.

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

RM: I have been very lucky and a bit spoiled in this regard: it didn’t require any courage. I grew up in an artist-friendly environment, with two parents that work with graphic design, have creative hobbies and gave me access to a lot of material really early on.  Painting, drawing, sculpting, sewing – all of it and more was around when I was a child, both as recreation and in a professional context. It was the natural order of things. So, to me, art was the obvious choice and it actually took me a long while before I realised I could choose another career path, if I wanted to. Though that might have required some courage…

 

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

RM: With reference to my previous answer, I think everyone who is close to me always took it for granted that I would end up working with art. It was probably more of a question in what field, for all of us. Would I do animation, illustration or concept art? Graphic design? I’ve done a little bit of everything by now, and everyone has always been encouraging all the way. Again, I’ve been very lucky.

 

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

RM: When it comes to technique: no. Not much. I don’t worry about people being disappointed with the quality of my craft. If I’m not proud enough of a piece, I probably won’t show it and I’d like to think that sifts out the better ones from the worse.

The context of what I produce is another thing, however. I’m amazed and flattered by the sheer amount of people that my art seems to reach, but it comes with a feeling of responsibility as well. Most things I show deal with fictional people from a lot of different places and backgrounds. That requires research, and while I don’t often communicate directly – because I’m shy and pretty private – I try to read everything people say about my art. A lot of it is worth taking into consideration, because many of these people are more familiar with things than I am. Things like cultural contexts and phenomenons. So if anything, it’s changed my thought process and I’ve learned much from it.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

RM: Of the ones I can remember properly, my favourite, also recent job was to make many of the illustrations and the cover art for the Swedish tabletop role-playing game Järn. I was asked to set the style, was given good illustration briefings with just the right amount of artistic liberty, got good feedback and the communication between everyone went smooth. It was a fun and rewarding job that produced results quickly.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

RM: This is a tricky question. The answer is obvious to me, but I can’t go into too much detail or say that everything about it was bad, as it wasn’t. Much of it was great! I learned tons, met lovely people, got to be a part of something big… all those things. Either way, I worked as a concept artist for a large video game company for three years and it was one of the most trying chapters of my life. There was bad communication that resulted in confusion and stressful situations, and a lot of work got thrown away in the many sudden changes. On top of that, being a woman in the game industry isn’t always easy. I’m glad I have the experience now, but it was a hard time. I’d like to work with games again some day, but at a smaller studio.

 

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

RM: People sometimes ask me how I do this or that, and I always find it difficult to answer. It’s such a messy process that varies from time to time, but at least almost all of my pieces stem from one of my many hobby projects or another. I text-roleplay and co-write stories just about daily, and these are my ever burning sources of inspiration. Someone writes a scene, creates a character or suggests a topic, which is the spark that kindles an idea. How it continues from there depends on my mood. Some days I sit down for hours on end until I’m done, usually in the middle of the night. Other times I come back to a piece every now and then, change direction whenever I look at it and start completely over after ten attempts. It’s chaotic, unplanned and the pace differs. As it’s so difficult to describe with words, though, I try to put process gifs on my blog for the ones who are interested in seeing how I build my pictures from sketch to finish. I also wrote this (http://uzlolzu.tumblr.com/post/146765529292/long-winded-thoughts-on-levelling-up-as-an-artist) after a lot of people had asked me about my process and how I go about things.

 

K: As an artist of European ancestry what motivated you to draw characters from other ethnicities?

RM: Before my mid or late teens, I only did it very rarely, and from there it’s been a gradual change so I’m not entirely sure. However, I know I started doing it more regularly at about the same time as I studied arabic at the university. That probably opened my eyes a bit, since I came in contact with a more diverse group of people than I had before – I grew up on a somewhat isolated island a bit north of Stockholm and was pretty clueless. After that I made other friends who introduced me other concepts, cultures, and ways of thinking, and I started reading more and exploring it all myself. Now it just feels strange, boring and dumb to not include many different ethnicities in what I do. The world is not homogenous and the ones I build shouldn’t be either.

 

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

RM: It’s definitely individual and art is such a broad term, so my thoughts on this are a bit fuzzy and speculative. I think a subject or detail that “speaks to you” separates any piece of art from the rest, even the craft isn’t the best. Most people can tell if the artist is skilled, and a piece can be technically brilliant, but still lack the spark of recognition. I look at tons of fantastic images every day and don’t feel anything, but then I see a doodle with a context that I feel a connection to and I suddenly love it. I think that to be able to relate to a piece increases the perceived quality greatly.

Another thing that, in my opinion, adds to any art is confidence. It sounds abstract, but I imagine it’s visible when someone believes in their abilities, know their weaknesses and work them both beautifully. And you don’t have to be an experienced artist to have that either. This is partly why I have a weakness for loose sketches, because it’s often most tangible in those.

 

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind?

RM: It varies, but at this point in life it’s my sister’s. After many tough years of not knowing what she wanted to do, she seems to have found her passion(s) and I’m both happy for her and completely blown away by everything she does.

 

K: Kugali Laboratories has created a device that allows you to could call yourself five years into the past, however, the call only lasts 15 seconds what would you say? only lasts 15 seconds what would you say to your younger self?

RM: Ha, ha! Apart from the very personal things I wouldn’t tell anyone else? Well, I’ve no idea! I was twenty-one, it was a somewhat turbulent period of my life…hm. I’d probably tell myself to talk to people more. Don’t lock yourself up, all alone.

 

K: What is your favourite Illustration or design?

RM: To tell the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever had a favourite one. I’m too fond of including the surrounding factors in how I look at images to isolate the graphic element enough for an uncluttered opinion. I love when art just fits in somewhere. Context is king. Also, there’s too much to choose from that’s beautiful and that enormous selection might be my favourite thing, not just one part of it. Anywhere you look, there’s so much talent that’s great in its own unique way, and the work of any one artist will be different from everything else. There are endless of ways to illustrate and design, and I love so many of them. It’s impossible to pick just one.

 

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

RM: I’d like to say “Getting there” but I’m not sure where it’s heading… A comic-esque style, with a dash of realism and everyday charm, maybe?

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

RM: I really want to make more and longer comics, but my current, big project is to make and print an art book. The reason I haven’t been as active on my blog lately is partly because I’m collecting and making illustrations for that. I want it to be filled with pieces that no one has seen before!

 

For more artwork check out her: Tumblr | Instagram

 

(P.S. Take a look out her awesome mini comic!)

http://uzlolzu.tumblr.com/post/129930334152/its-been-a-while-since-i-made-any-comics-and-ive

 

Kugali Spotlight: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

Kugali Spotlight: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

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Kugali Spotlight: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

 

If I were to describe his art in one word it would be phantasmagorical, each piece possesses a dreamlike quality reflecting influences from both Eastern and Western art. Nikolas has expressed his creativity in a way that is truly unique and captivating while reading through the sample pages from the Dream Vesper prologue I was so engrossed in the visuals that I could almost hear the symphony of an orchestra the imagery is beautiful yet ghastly. To say I’m excited to see the final product would be an understatement, I’m ecstatic. From what I’ve seen I still think the best is yet to come.

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

NDI: It was really the only thing I felt I was decent at.

K: Can you describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wanted to pursue a career as a professional artist?

NDI: My family wasn’t too impressed by this. Hahaha. But now they seem to be coming around to the idea. My closest friends are very supportive.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

NDI: I still don’t consider myself a “professional” despite what others might feel. I probably won’t feel that way until I put out a book. I do feel pressure to improve the quality of my work before that happens.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

NDI: Working on my own material I like having creative freedom

 

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

NDI: I don’t want to answer that question I have an answer but it’s a long story

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

NDI: I usually have something in my head and then it stays in my head for a while until I decide to draw it. I try to come up with original designs and I always feel inadequate as an artist if someone compares me to something else. There are thousands of people that disagree with that logic, but thats just me. I try to pull from life and make it as cool as possible.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

NDI: Perspective and effort. There is art that is passable and “technically” good, then there is art that raises the bar. Meaning you see it and it blows your mind. It should you hit on an emotional, almost spiritual level.

K: When you think of beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?

NDI: Beautiful art, man…that’s tough. Everyone is different. I can’t even call that. My standard of beauty might not be the same as someone else’s.

 

K: Kugali Laboratories have condensed the flux capacitor into a device that allows you to call yourself 5 years in the past, however, the call only lasts 15 seconds what would you say to your younger self?

NDI: You’re still not good enough.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?

Olivier CoipelTakeshi ObataAlphonse MuchaTetsuya Nomura and Gustave Dore.

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

NDI: …. I can’t, actually I’ll just say it’s unintentionally reminiscent.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

NDI: I’m working very hard on Dream Vesper, thats something to look forward to. I’ll probably release it as a webcomic first. I don’t want to announce anything to soon just yet.

K: We honestly can’t wait for it! Thank you very much for your time

NDI: Yep!

For more artwork check out his: Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr

Kugali Spotlight: Deryl Braun

Kugali Spotlight: Deryl Braun

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Kugali Spotlight: Deryl Braun

 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

DB: My lifestyle, I just can’t imagine working in a different field. I realised early that if I wanted to see success I would have to give my all. It also answered the question “what would you do if monetary gain wasn’t the incentive?”

K: Can you describe the reaction of your family and close friends you told them you were going to be a professional artist?

DB: Both friends and family were always very supportive. My Mum from time to time would say ‘It would be a good idea to look for a different job’. Also, my first clients were some of my friends.

 

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

DB: No, I’m my own worst critique. I try to do pieces that make me happy because i know that transfers and those mostly turn out best

K: Describe your favorite job or project and why?

DB: They were always personal projects so far. I really enjoyed doing the redesign of the Knight Sabers from the Bubblegum crisis series. I wanted to do that for a looong time and gave it a serious take. The timing turned out just right and the designs, the actual work etc encouraged and motivated me the whole time. It was demanding and rewarding at the same time.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

DB: It was a client job and it seemed that we couldn’t be more incompatible. There were problems with communication and with payment agreement…

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to final draft.

DB: Uff, hard one. Inspiration can come from all kinds of stuff. It can come from a simple thing like a random combination of words, a song, or looking at other art, a situation of your daily life can be inspiring as well as a story you hear from a friend. Movies, games, photos, you can actually take anything and use it as your fuel. You can give yourself a brief or work out a concept of something and write it down before starting on a canvas. Sometimes I just lay down some textures, color or brush strokes and look for something in them. If I’m working with a brief a concept or an idea, I start sketching and try to discover what works and what doesn’t work for the image. After that it’s rendering time until I’m pleased or time runs out but I mostly go for the first point.

 

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

DB: Good art for me is mostly covering a certain aspect of art, like rendered or a creative idea. Great art has a mix of those aspects and it kind of satisfies a hunger that you didn’t realise you had. I like the idea of being a radio that gets certain frequencies and as soon as a signal hits the speakers and let´s the music play i let go of the nub right away.

K: When you think of beautiful art who’s the first name that comes to mind?

DB: I’m horrible with names and there’s too much good stuff but I’m a Yohji Shinkawa fanboy.

K: We’ve created a device that allows you to could call yourself five years into the past, however, the call only lasts 15 seconds what would you say?

DB: I would scream “more confidence”, then whisper “and maybe a liiiiittle bit more focus” and then sing the rocky theme for 12 seconds.

K: What is your favourite Illustration or design?

DB: They change and again there’s too much good stuff.

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

DB: The mouse in the maze hunting the cheese that must be there somewhere

K: What can we expect from you in the future?
DB: More byproducts of me getting to where I want to be (in other words more art).

For more art check out his: Artstation | Deviant art | Official Website

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Kugali Spotlight: Sy Blake

Kugali Spotlight: Sy Blake

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Kugali Spotlight: Sy Blake 

The artistic prowess of the London-born Toronto-based visual artist Simon ‘Sy’ Blake (also known as blckgold) speaks for itself. Though well versed in product design, animation and 2D illustration his creativity is best expressed in 3D sculptures. From textiles to hair textures his attention to detail is evident in each rendering. His art is teeming with personality and life. We would love to see these models come to life in an animated feature one day. 

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

SB: For me, it wasn’t so much about courage, it was just something I had to do. I’ve always been creative from a very very young age, so to me, this was just a case of finding out what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, and the best way to do all of that.

K: Can you describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them that you are going to be a professional artist?

SB: Honestly, I’m not sure my family really fully understand what I do, lol. If you asked my dad, he’d probably tell you I do something completely different from what my mum would tell you. But my family trust me and know that I am doing what I love, and as long at that makes me happy and gives me a bit of money at the same time. They don’t need to know the details… as long as it’s not illegal of course.

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process?

SB: Mmmm. good question, my creative process is a little less impulsive, I think more about what I’m posting, composition, design, posing. I have much more to learn to perfect, but the journey is enjoyable and I’ve gotten better through persistence.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

SB: My favourite job has to be a project I’m working on currently called the International Doll Project, I get to learn about different cultures and put them into the designs of some wooden dolls. That’s a lot of fun, and the client is also super amazing.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

SB: I had a client who was extremely aggressive and long story short, we had to end our working relationship. I never got fully paid, but a little while after he did approach me to continue working with him. Of course, I said no.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece.

SB: My process is very fluid and I used to think it was unique to me, but it actually isn’t lol. In terms of my 3d character models, I sometimes start with a very rough and loose idea of what I want to do/say. As I’m working on the character I’m actually finding out more about them and making on the fly changes. The character may start with green hair and by the end be bald, because I may feel that works better for what I want the end result to be.

#ballerina #ballet #keyshot #zbrush #characterdesign #charactermodeling #sculpt #picoftheday #cgartist

A post shared by SyBlake (@syblake) on

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

SB: I try not to look at art in terms of good and bad and more in terms of… did you try, are you still trying, have you improved, are you still improving. It’s a journey and no one starts at the end. That being said, there are some things that automatically tarnish a piece.

K: When you think of beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?

SB: James Jean, his art for me is the essence of beauty

K: Dr. Who has granted you a chance to go 5 years in the past and talk to your younger self, however, you only have 15 seconds. What would you say?

SB: This one is easy, draw draw draw draw draw, and learn Maya. I feel having a solid foundation in drawing, knowing forms, shapes, bend stretch proportions, make your job in 3D so much easier and the result shows. and obviously, learn Maya so I can animate the hell out of my 3D characters.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists?

SB: Cory LoftisKent MeltonKevin DartGlen Keane and Nicolas Marlet

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

SB: This is actually so difficult. I don’t even have an answer really but something along the lines of visual empowerment for people like me.

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

SB: My goal is to get better and better, and put out more, experiment with animations, use different softwares and hopefully some great collaborations too.

http://ggariba.tumblr.com/post/107128500033/working-on-a-project-with-the-talented-sy-blake

For more artwork check out his: Instagram | Tumblr | Deviantart | Official Website

 

Kugali Spotlight: Godwin Akpan

Kugali Spotlight: Godwin Akpan

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Kugali Spotlight: Godwin Akpan

For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be shining the spotlight on the creative forces behind some of our favourite content. This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Godwin Akpan, a full-time concept artist and illustrator for Anthill productions, a multimedia facility that offers services in media productions and post-production located in Lagos, Nigeria. His work has been seen in the animated short PLAYTHING, E.X.O – The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika, The SIM and L.S.P.D (Lloyds’ Securities: Private Detective).

K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art?

GA: I believe the singular answer is love for art.

K: Can you describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you were going to be a professional artist?

GA: I think everybody around me already felt I was made for this. So it wasn’t a surprise when I chose art as a career. I got all the support and encouragement from friends, family, and fans.

 

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process? 

GA: My mission as an artist is to keep evolving. If I’m not getting better, then I’m getting worse. So I’ll say my creative process is constantly evolving both in speed and quality

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

GA: For me, it’s not so much the job as the people I’m working with. I find so much joy in the work when my colleagues become like family to me and this motivates us to create an environment where we all inspire the best out of each other.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why?

GA: I’ll say my worst project have been the ones where I wasn’t allowed any creative freedom.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to final draft.

GA: It always starts with an idea. Either a client’s brief, a random picture or a random thought, then there’s a rough sketch of what the idea is, and then there’s reference gathering, and then I absorb myself into the painting and 60% of the time, I forget the original idea and just let the art control my thinking.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art?

GA: I think it’s what the art does to you. It’s nice to look at a beautiful painting, but it’s more enchanting when the painting speaks to you. Which is why you can sometimes stare at some paintings for a long time and not get bored. It’s not the beauty anymore, it’s the emotion conveyed in the art.

K: When you think of beautiful art what is the first name that comes to mind?

GA: Dylan Cole

K: We’ve created a device that allows you to could call yourself five years into the past, however, the call only lasts 15 seconds what would you say? 

GA: That’s a funny one. I’ll say, hey, past me, looking good. I am future you and I have this to say; whatever you do, don’t stop doing what you are currently doing. You are on the right track. So stay on it. I must away! I don’t have much airtime!

K: What is your favourite Illustration or design?

GA: I don’t think I have one yet. I try not to fall in love with my own designs. But if I have to pick, I’ll say it’s the one where I painted a snowy day in Lagos. I’ve always wished it would someday snow here. So the painting speaks to my inner craving.

K: Describe your art in a sentence?

GA: Constantly evolving

K: What can we expect from you in the future?

GA: I’m currently working on my own graphic novel. I’m very excited about it I hope to make it available sometime this year.

For more artwork check out his: Instagram | Artstation 

What to expect from the Midas Monkee Expo

Midas Monkee, one of the most prominent studios telling African fantasy tales in America, has just announced a 5 day event called the Midas Monkee Expo. This will run from the 10th to the 14th of February, 2017. Midas Monkee will showcase a different product for each day of the Expo. Kugali will be on top of this, and will provide you with all the latest news fresh out the horse’s mouth.

We have had Paul Louise-Julie, the founder of Midas Monkee, as a guest on the Kugali Podcast thrice now, and we have read everything the studio released in their first phase of production. We also wrote a blog post in March 2016 detailing Midas Monkee’s proposed phase 2 releases. Since most of the things on that list haven’t launched yet, and with all the conversations we’ve had with Paul, we can give educated guesses on what to expect from the Expo. So without further ado, here are our top 5 predictions.

1. More of The Pack

This one is obvious. If the Expo doesn’t tell the release schedule for the remaining two books in the Egyptian Saga of The Pack, then all the rest of our predictions might as well be wrong. The first three books kicked off the series in Egypt, but we know that The Pack will go to Nubia, Sokoto and other places in Aya, the fictional fantasy version of Africa in which the story is set. We need the last 2 books in the Egyptian Saga to drop, so we can finally start exploring Nubia in the next saga.

The Pack Midas Monkee

2. Dwarves

If you look closely at the promotional image for Dwarves, you can spot an African mask whose design inspired one of our Kugali masks. And for good reason, Paul designed our Kugali masks for us. While we’re at it, he also designed the map and emblems in Youneek Studio’s Malika graphic novel. However, we haven’t heard much about Dwarves in all our conversations with Paul, so we’re not sure if it’s still coming in 2017. The expo will tell, either way.

Dwarves Midas Monkee

3. Rains of Dara

Midas Monkee had a Kickstarter campaign in 2016 to print physical copies of their books, and Kugali backed the campaign, because we love dope stuff. We also have access to all the project updates Midas Monkee releases exclusively to backers, so we’ll let you in on a little secret. There’s a graphic novel dropping shortly after the Midas Monkee showcase that Kickstarter backers will be getting, and we can tell you that it is set in the same world as Yohance. Out of respect for the other Kickstarter backers, we won’t release the promo art shown to backers until and unless Midas Monkee publicly announces this during the showcase.

 

4. More Yohance

This is another obvious announcement. Yohance is a space opera with a uniquely Afrofuturist aesthetic, and I don’t use the term “unique” lightly. Yohance had gained twice as much followers as The Pack before the first issue of Yohance dropped, with two stellar issues of The Pack already on the market. With such a strong following, we can’t imagine Midas Monkee not releasing at least one more Yohance book this year.

5. A New IP

Midas Monkee has surprised us with at least one new, great looking product every time they’ve made press releases. With such a track record, we know there will be at least one mind-blowing surprise in store for us. Be it Voor, Kush, Candace, Rains of Dara or something totally unannounced, we expect to hear of a new project launching very soon that readers can enjoy in the ever expanding Midas Monkee Universe

Did we miss any obvious predictions? If you have any predictions in mind ahead of February 10th, let us know in the comments section.

Video Games with Black Women as the lead character

Finding a video game that has an African or a person of African descent as the main character is a difficult task, but we’ve already done that for you on our media library. This blog post goes a step further. We’re highlighting games that have you playing as a black woman. This does not include games that let you create your own character of any race and gender. We will limit this specifically to games where the story definitely revolves around a black woman. You can click the links for more details, including where to download.

In no particular order:

1. Touch Combat

This is a dude in distress story that has Daije, a Nigerian woman, fighting hordes of demons as she searches for her loved one. I love it. I’m not into mobile games much, but the combat here has air juggles, dodge rolling, counters, slo-mo finishing moves and boss battles. Feels like an arcade or console game.
Touch Combat by Bisong Taiwo


2. Earthnight

Dragons have taken over the Earth. It’s up to a 14 year old high-schooler and a freelance photographer to stop them. You’ll need a PS4 or PSVita to cop this game, I guess because the target audience don’t usually play mobile games. After all, the game’s developers have called it “the runner for people who hate runners”.

Earthnight Playstation


3. Half the Sky Movement

More of a visual novel than a video game, Half the Sky Movement is a series of interactive short stories that highlight some of the real challenges women face around the world. There are various versions localized for various countries, so Kugali has chosen to highlight the Kenyan version.

Half the Sky Movement


4. Bukky’s Bukka

Bukky’s Bukka is a twin stick shooter set in Nigeria. You play as a chef who hunts down the best food ingredients you can get your hands on: the ones that can fight back! You run around the dangerous habitat of your prey, shooting and hacking at swarms of enemies with an arsenal of guns and melee weapons. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek game that doesn’t take itself seriously.Bukky's Bukka


5. Aurion: The Legacy of the Kori-Odan

Ok, this Action RPG technically has you playing as a man, but just like 2008’s Prince of Persia game, there is a woman who is always present, and some of your abilities are mapped to her. Queen Erine and her King Enzo have been exiled after her brother usurped the throne, and they go on an epic journey with the goal of getting their throne back. Erine isn’t a mere sidekick, she is integral to the story and her dialogue with Enzo is believable and nuanced.

Erine Enzou Kori-Odan


6. Indivisible

Not only does this game have the biggest budget on this list, but Indivisible just might be the most culturally diverse game in our database. It is full of lands and characters inspired by a variety of cultures and myths, though the thematic core is inspired by Southeast Asian mythology. If you’re looking for a diverse action RPG for your PS4, XboxOne, PC or Mac, you just found it.

Ajna Indivisible


Honorable Mentions

These next two games have a lot in common. Both are visually inspired by both French and Japanese art, both have big publishers behind them (unlike the rest of our list which are indie games), and both are set in fictional worlds where the nations that exist in real life don’t exist. As such, though both games feature human characters of various races, ethnicity is never discussed. You can’t be African in a world where the continent doesn’t exist, and there can’t be racial tension in a world where colonialism didn’t exist.

Gravity Rush
With the unique aesthetic that mashes manga (Japanese comics) and bande dessinée (Franco-Belgian comics), Gravity Rush puts you in the gravity-bending shoes of Kat, a strong-willed girl with a tender heart. I totally enjoyed the steam punk world that’s sometimes inspired by South America, sometimes inspired by France, and sometimes inspired by pure geeky imagination.

Kat Gravity Rush


Beyond Good and Evil

In Beyond Good & Evil, Jade and her uncle Pey’j, a half-pig half-human, work together to both rescue orphans they were taking care of and expose governmental corruption. The game’s public relations manager Tyrone Miller said that she has no established ethnicity, since the game takes place on another planet. This leads to a very interesting discussion on racial ambiguity in games, which has been explored further by Wired editor Chris Kohler.

Jade. Beyond Good and Evil


And there you have it folks! I’ll bet you hadn’t heard of some of the games on this list. So did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section.

Samurai Shin

Samurai Shin

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Samurai Shin is a harsh and bloody comic book series created by Mikel Miles. The story follows Amir Atsuko and Keith Masaru, two young warriors eager to prove that they are worthy of the title of Samurai however, there can only be one.  The first issue is out on Peep Game Comix and it’s clear that the creators have been influenced by Japanese manga. This, of course leads to comparisons with Afro Samurai, another violent thriller series centered on a black samurai. Afro Samurai was a masterpiece and while it’s too early to say the same thing about Samurai Shin, the series has made a strong start with issue 1.

The creators of  Comics have confirmed Samurai Shin Issue 2, which features an English sub-titled trailer with Japanese language showcasing both stories protagonists. Writer Mikel Miles and illustrator Ivan Earl Aguilar have joined forces once again for the second issue and illustration artist Fahmi Fauzi has also contributed.

The soundtrack for Issue 2, Samurai Shin OST 2 , will be independently released.  Samurai Shin OST 1 was released earlier this year and featured producers Kuro Silence, P.Soul, and underground emcees including Chill$quad and Jaymin Warren.  Samurai Shin OST 1 is available on Payhip and Soundcloud for free. Samurai Shin Issue 2 & Samurai Shin OST 2 are scheduled to release in 2017. Samurai Shin Team also gave us an exclusive first strip of the 2nd Issue. You can win a copy of issue 1 in our give-away while stocks last.

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