Album art is becoming a big deal in Music from Africa. One of the artist spearheading the movement is Hanson Akatti. Hanson, can easily be called the Picasso of the album art world.
The Ghanaian illustrator shares with his his influences, making the Nowhere Cool artwork and a very awesome playlist.
- What was your childhood like?I liked television. I would latch on a little too tight on fiction. I wasn’t really on strict supervision. That was good… and bad lol
- How has your upbringing and cultural background influenced your work?
My work is true to who I am. I cannot filter out my ‘Ghanaian-ness’
- Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Like all creators, I let my influences speak through me. The difference with me is, I’m more aware of that fact. I don’t have a sure process. I get a project, I may have an idea for it (usually a vague idea), then I look art that has conveyed such ideas or looks that I’m going for. I’m really big on aesthetics too.
- How do you combat creative block?
Like 60% of the time I’m just staring at what I’m doing or I get distracted by something else. I like to think of it as the creative process taking longer than usual. It’s not a block per Se.
- With recent trends and different directions the creative industry moves in, how do you stay true to yourself and not get caught up?
I learnt at an early age to trust myself and it’s been paying off.
- Your relation or connections to people in the music industry is pretty obvious, with cover art for Efya, EL, Juls, and more recently Manifest. How has the music industry (and the music you listen to) shaped your career?
Oh music is evidently a huge influence in my work. Music moves me. I’m pushed forward by it. The big idea in art can exist on whatever platform. It’s easy to draw connections between art forms. The ‘big idea’ is just re-coded for a different sense. Miles Davis’ album ‘Some Kind of Blue’ is a very melancholic album. You think of blue, you think melancholy. I see Nas’ I am… album in black and gold (from the album cover), and the movies “Belly” and “In too Deep”. That’s the visual vibe I accompany with that album. To be able to do that that with other peoples music, to be given the opportunity to create the mental image you carry with a song is a big deal to me.
- Tell us about making art for Manifest’s new project Nowhere Cool. Which cover is your favoourite?
I really wanted to do a a homage to the golden age of comics. I heard ‘damn you rafiki’ and I felt it will go right with that song
- What projects are you currently working on?
More album cover stuff. A children’s book here and there, a comic which is long overdue… more “tins”
- Your playlist is pretty diverse, would you describe your art as that?
Yup. I don’t like just one thing. What kind of human being likes just one kind of thing?
- What are the challenges as an artist in Ghana and how do you think we can work that out as individuals.
I don’t have the answers, to be honest. Some of the people who have the final say, ‘demma eye no open’. That’s a thing I deal with.
- There’s Wunmi’s Crossover in your playlist, is that something you relate to? Do you think one have to ride a wave or commercialize to “Make it”?
That’s the dilemma most artists face, I heard. Well, first of all you have to know what you are in it for. If you think of your stuff as product then you most likely have to give people what they want. If you think you are an artist then you must lead, not pander, and “to commercialize, you compromise”.
- What are the 3 books or films (or both) you’d recommend to anyone in the creative field.
Spirited away (film) if you think you’ve reached the limit of your creativity, this film will make you realize you haven’t even scratched the surface.
A whole new mind – (book by Daniel H. Pink) I like to think about the ‘why I’m like this’
Fight Club (film) – spark your inner rebel
- Top five things you would advise any creative to have every day (be it physical or inherent quality)
Observe everything. Notice all the nuances
Be aware of your subconscious
Be part of an art community you can access all the time
A thing to write down all your ideas in
Humility and arrogance… yeah go figure