Artist: Gyimah Gariba

About two weeks ago my brother emailed me. Informing me of a new artist blog he came across. As soon as I clicked the link to I was hooked, before I knew I had scrolled through all the archives. I know I sound like a crazed fan but I am a fan of inspirational work and also the fact he is so  young talented and driven. Born in Accra, Ghana (West Africa) currently located in Toronto, come get to know  Gyimah Litsitso Gariba.

What you have for breakfast?
This morning I had some crepes with home-made strawberry sauce (courtesy of my little sister -she’s a better cook than I am), a mango, and a glass of Orange juice-with pulp.

How did you get into art?
I got into art at a pretty young .I was probably 5 or 6 and I remember standing and watching my older brother and sister draw from old X-men comics and make their own comic books. Of course I wasn’t allowed to join in because I was younger but I remember as soon as they left I would take the comics and be left practicing for hours. I’ve been drawing ever since. As soon as my parents and teachers noticed that I was taking art seriously they were more than supportive in every way which was really reassuring. My friends have been incredibly supportive as well. I also have to mention the fact that I used to watch my dad design buildings as a hobby of sorts or sketch while he was on the phone-I feel like because I never used to see “grown-ups” have fun while they drew. Seeing him just doodle random shapes made me feel like it was okay to be an adult and draw for a living(even though that wasn’t his actual job haha)

You were born and raised in Accra Ghana. Did growning up there have any type of influence on your art today and how so?Totally, growing up in Ghana I feel has had the biggest influence on my art. Ironically; I’m more inspired by my hometown now than when I actually lived there-the sights , the colors, the patterns, the people ,the culture all of it. It’s such an exciting place for anyone to experience that I try my best to bring familiar characters I remember from my childhood or everyday sights from just walking around to people who have never seen it before. Drawing from your own life helps me stay as original as I can be. I also love re-interpreting Ghanaian roadside art in my own style, local small time artists often don’t realize how fun and original the characters they create are.

How would you define you style when it comes to art?
My art is mostly character based. It’s a mixture of being a fan of animation and just a people person in general. I’m most inspired by people-talking to strangers, watching people walk-by as I sketch and occasionally eavesdropping on conversations on the bus .It’s fun I never risk being repetitive because everyone is so different; even when you see the same persons face several times you always seem to notice something new.

Favorite Artist?
Favorite Artist….. hmmm That’s a pretty hard question. I don’t think I have one that I can name but there are several that really inspire me. I tend to look at everything from fashion photographers animation development artists work, comic book art, and traditional painters for inspiration. I went to a French School( Ecole Francaise Jacques Prevert) for 12 years and I remember my art teacher (Mr.GbaGba) being obsessed with Pablo Picasso- to be honest I didn’t understand the fascination until quite recently but looking at his work then really helped me see things differently.Jean-Michel Basquiat has become a recent favorite of mine. Watching him paint is what I find inspiring-reminds me to maintain a certain amount of energy and spontaneity even when I mean to be calculated. I also really like Lesean Thomas’ work.He’s a self taught artist from the Bronx New York who’s art and work ethic is something to look up to.

If you had to choose one artist to collaborate with on one piece who would it be and why?
If I had to collaborate with one I think it would be Tom Ford. Both as a designer and a director- because he has amazing personal style, excellent sense of editing and incredible attention to detail. I’ve always wanted to do more with Illustration and animation and in a perfect world I would do some with Tom Ford. Everyone who hasn’t seen “A single man” should really check it out- the shots and design of that movie are impeccable.

What would like to be doing 10 years from now?
10 years from now, I want to be doing art in any and every way I possibly can (fashion,Illustration,Animation) and to have made somewhat of a lasting impression/contribution in the art world or at least be on my way to do so. To be able to look back at the work I’ve done, be able to point out the flaws and keep getting better-Ideally I would be getting paid to do so. Also, by then I want to have done something nice for my family and close friends.

Gyimah – Website / Twitter 

– Interview by 1Hundred of 10Leaves

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Corey Knight

Founder of A&H Group.