I am personally a big fan of electronic music. I decided to create a poster series to visualize my feeling
about the music, based on the visual elements and colors from the original albums.
The good folk Sunnie from GEO/DAY has been in touch with news of his new poster series
inspired by electronic music and original album covers. Check out more of the project via GEO/DAY.
Amazing Street Fighter inspired vector series illustrated by Thailand-based artist Phuwadon Thongnoum.
Naoki from Japan-based design studio YOY has been in touch with news of their third exhibition.
in Milan from April 8 to April 13. YOY will be at stand D-43, Salone Sattelite, Fiera Hall 15.
I took these quick shots of my sister before she left home to take an exam in her college today.
She had a 80's look and I felt the urge to capture the moment right before she left home to take her exam.
It is an honor to present my in-depth interview with Toronto-based LEGO artist Ekow Nimako. In our interview, we talked about Ekow Nimako's creative process, his exhibitions, his passion for audiobooks, the essence of LEGO, plus more. Enjoy!
When was your first experience with LEGO and what was it about LEGO that sparked your interest?
My earliest experience building with LEGO was when I was about four years old and living in London, Ontario. LEGO allowed me the freedom to create whatever it was I liked, and what I liked was G.I. Joe, Transformers, and ThunderCats. Whenever I watched a cartoon and there was a new spaceship or vehicle that impressed me, I wouldn't even bother asking my parents to buy it for me, my immediate response was to build it with LEGO and bring it into reality with my own two hands.
So at an early age LEGO elevated your visual imagination and creative experience.
Absolutely. But I didn't know that sculpture was going to be my thing. At the time, I was only aware of my talent in drawing. No one really got to see what I was building at home with LEGO aside from my family, and even if they did, I don't think my weaponized hovercrafts would've been considered artistic, despite how cool they were.
I remember I used to make a lot of mess on the carpet whenever I played, too, so to keep my mum's floors free of LEGO bits and lint, I started pouring my bricks on top of the Kente cloths she kept around the house just so I could easily get them back into their tubs when I was done with them. Looking back it really became a sort of ritual for me, and now that I can see how my artistic upbringing was subtly influenced by my Ghanaian heritage, it makes my exploration of blackness that much more personal.
When did you decide to take it to the professional level?
Well, I left art school in 2010 to finish my first fantasy novel and eventually took a job as a writer and copy editor for a dot com company. In 2012 the company went under and suddenly I had this abundance of time on my hands and decided to use that time to make art. I'd had a strong desire to build a bird out of LEGO for some time by then, so that's exactly what I did. Within three months I had nearly thirty birds built and that's when my first exhibition Aviarageddon was born. The show was successful, and by early 2013, once I'd created 'Ms. Fortune' the black cat, I knew that I could achieve virtually anything using my particular aesthetic of LEGO construction.
As an adult before 2012, did you still have an interest in LEGO?
Yes, despite its shortcomings as a film, when Michael Bay's live action Transformers movie came out it brought me back to LEGO building. It made me aware of my collection again. I was transported back to my childhood with the same impulse to create what I did not have, which in this case was every single transformer from the movie. I rediscovered the joy of listening to music and building for hours on end.
Are there any frustrations you deal with during your building process?
It is always a challenge knowing when to glue a sculpture. I don't use blueprints or sketches of any kind either, so over time I've had to learn to trust my creative intuition. I also have to accept that there is going to be LEGO waste once the glue gets involved, but that is all part of the sculptural process. You can't create three-dimensional art without scraps getting on the studio floor. Mistakes are common, but I like mistakes. Mistakes have led me to amazing discoveries; almost every piece I've completed has had an epic mistake at one point or another during its construction. In the end however, they always come together in the best possible way.
What has been the most challenging project so far?
I'd have to say that Flower Girl was the most challenging sculpture to build so far. She was the first humanoid sculpture I made standing upright, so gravity played a major part of my struggles. Also, the anatomy of a child is difficult to grasp especially between the age of three and six because there are so many variables. For example, a four year old's head could be the same size as a five year old's head, in which case the visible differences are played out somewhere in the frame of the body. It was also the first time I had to build clothing with so much texture and body to it. But I prevailed, and she is more magnificent for it.
I was once told, the role of an artist is to make people think and that permeates everything I do.
What is the most important factor to you when working on a project?
I avoid building anything that I feel its impressiveness lies purely in the fact that it is built out of LEGO. The subject matter of my art is as important to me as the aesthetics, maybe even more important. I was once told, the role of an artist is to make people think and that permeates everything I do. Of course the aesthetic aspect naturally appeals to people first, but the context in which the art is presented is more cerebral, and therefore tends to take a little longer to sink in. As long as my artwork stirs questions in the minds of those who see it through, I feel like I am fulfilling my artistic purpose.
What has been the feedback and response to your work?
Phenomenal. Building Black received a lot of media coverage and attention. Some people were brought to tears after hearing me delineate my work, and there were all sorts of other positive emotional responses that helped affirm my role as a LEGO artist. All the positivity really compelled me to challenge myself and keep providing artwork the world will not expect.
Besides the fun and creativity surrounding it, what do you think is the essence of LEGO?
The essence of LEGO is rooted in its versatility. I think that is what captures people's imaginations. The fact that it is constructive and provides such creative access.
It has been a fundamental tool for engineers, and for understanding mechanics. You can build completely functioning items with it, all the while it's still considered a toy. Consequently, this is part of its allure, why it works so well as an artistic medium. It creates a unique cultural polarity when you examine what LEGO's playfulness means to most children and adults around the world, then examine my complex, confrontational, and sensitive subject matter. It's much like if someone built a gun out of flowers, the item becomes polarized but in a beautiful, profound sort of way. This notion is key to what I do with LEGO.
How is your working mode like? Does your mood transcend into your work?
I like a lot of natural light, which I have in my studio space. But I tend to work through the nights too. I build with music on as well, or listen to audiobooks. Some songs can move me to tears putting me in a very vulnerable, emotional place while I'm building. When I was working on Building Black the audiobooks I was listening to were often slave narratives and other books that explored themes of blackness. That definitely transcended into my work and helped me to mold and create the subject matter.
What audiobooks are you currently listening to?
I am a big sci-fi fan. I have been listening to a lot of Star Wars audiobooks lately. Looking for stories with more afro-futuristic themes too.
What about music?
I am very capricious, my mood changes at any point from wanting something exciting and fast to something melancholic and somber. Currently I have been listening to a lot of Femi Kuti, Afro Cuban music, hip-hop, and a lot of British alternative bands as well.
What are your top visually inspiring movies?
Transformers - Visually pleasing.
Star Wars - It transports me to another world. Epic story, good political structure.
Hayao Miyazaki's movies are great. Princess Mononoke is my personal favourite.
Where is your favorite spot in Toronto?
Probably High Park, the area I live in. The park itself is the biggest natural park in the city, and the closest I can get to nature without leaving the city entirely.
What do you like most about what you do?
Freedom. I think freedom is the fundamental quality of life that is essential to happiness. It really hurts me when I see people that do not have freedom in their lives.
When I was working for companies, corporations, I always had to be somewhere at a certain time. Even at school, though less so. I had to listen to what someone else told me to do in order to achieve maximum productivity and increase their profits. Society at large tells us this is how we have to do things. But this is not the case.
We can carve out our own paths if we choose. The fact that I am able to do that now with my art is amazing to me, and will always be.
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