In July 2017, we started Squid Alley, an initiative that shed light on some of the creatives – illustrators mostly – whose work we were in love with. The goal is to get right into it by asking very quick and direct questions. We took a pretty long hiatus but we’re back now! And to swing the initiative back in full gear is Kaz, an Accra based illustrator, graphic designer and by association with Akotowaa (an awesome contemporary writer and author of the book cover above), weaver of intricate stories through his art.
Below is our Squid Alley interview with Kaz.
1. What are your go-to tools?
I work with my laptop and a graphics tablet for digital projects. Currently, I use a Wacom Intuos but I have a super soft spot for my Huion H610 Pro and it’s pretty awesome considering its price. When I’m looking to do something more spontaneous I go for these cool PaintON sketchbooks by Clairefontaine and pretty much any pen I can get my hands on although I do have a soft spot for pencils paired with Graph’it fineliners.
2. What inspires you?
Inspiration is endlessly pouring in from pretty much anything I can and have experienced. My daily commute to work, the music I listen to, my friends, the beach and sand in between my toes, it’s overwhelming most of the time. I pretty much go to war mentally before I work cause it’s hard to decide what to focus on.
3. What challenges do you face?
Time. The lack of it to be more specific. I’m arrogant enough to think there aren’t many artistic pursuits that are beyond me but making time to study and move to executing a solid project out of it all just keeps getting harder and harder. I’ve really come to appreciate just how precious time is with all the extra roles I’ve grown into. That aside, the usual freelancer troubles and the fact that there isn’t much of a system in place or much legislation protecting the rights of independent contractors.
4. What’s been your favourite and the most fun piece you’ve ever worked?
LOL! I don’t have one. My approach to art has always been from a place of love and slightly insane obsession so I don’t ever stop to think of which project I enjoyed the most cause every one of them is just me having the time of my life even if it’s some boring commission I take on for dough.
5. Who do you absolutely listen to when you work?
I have a huge playlist for my work sessions and I could go on for days but if I absolutely had to get choosy, I’d pick Alina Baraz (Urban Flora project with Galimatias. Her recent project, The Color of You is also straight fire), Esta, La Meme Gang, CHIKA, Anderson Paak, Lady Donli, Odunsi, Noname, DBM and I know this question sounds like I ought to pick one but I really just can’t.
6. What do you do for fun?
Ooh more things than I can mention. I watch loads of movies (although I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a film buff), anime, scour the internet for new music (shouts to Harmattan Rain), draw, draw some more, skate in the skies, birdwatching, sex, shadow boxing, reading, a little more drawing. I’ve come to appreciate hanging out with friends and just talking about stuff and I believe with all my heart that going to the beach and staring at the sea is fun.
7. You have 24hrs in the Squid Time Tunnel to change something about your past. What would it be and why?
I’d go give young me a sound haranguing for listening to people’s opinions on his craft, tell him to believe in himself more and definitely not quit art cause he really can’t and there’s no need to waste two years trying to. Also if I can sneak in one more thing, I’d stop my poor, adorable Alpha (may he rest in adorable, puppy peace) from following me to the junction. It’s a long, sad story.
8. What’s your hope for African comics, games and animation in the next 3 years?
Definitely to see them become more accepted in mainstream media and to see all the awesome, locally grown franchises that could spring out of that acceptance especially because I have one in the works with a ridiculously patient friend and with the trouble I’m going through to get it right, I don’t want nothing but positive results when we launch. I hope more people become aware of what a gold mine we’re sitting on culturally and be more encouraging to young artists. That last part mostly ’cause it’s something I wish I had growing up.
9. The TRIOmphant Bonus: Who are your top 3 African creatives across comics, games, animation, music, technology etc?
Wow. This is hard. Okay, these guys are my absolute personal favourites because of their influence on my work; Hanson Akatti, Niyi Okeowo and Odunsi the Engine. 3 is such a small number but I’ll probably write a book if I keep going, there are so many amazing creatives on this continent!