Digital art has added new elements to the technological, artistic, and emotional experiences of creating artworks or designs in the world today. In an exclusive session, we talk to Annette Lartey, a digital artist from Ghana who makes a living by creating amazing artworks using smartphones.
FA: Can you tell us about yourself?
Annette: I’m Annette Lartey, a digital artist on phone, artiste manager, model, and actress with a contagiously bubbly personality.
FA: When did you realize you wanted to be a digital artist? Did you explore other forms of art first?
Annette: Growing up, I always desired to pursue art to the penultimate and hence my enrolment in the Visual Arts course in SHS. By God’s grace, I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Design from KNUST where I first got a feel of Digital art. After school, I worked as a banker for a while and the grueling working hours left no time for practice. After leaving the banking field, I revisited digital painting and to my horror, everything I drew turned out a complete disaster. After failed attempts at painting with my WACOM tablet and laptop I discovered a rather unconventional tool; my Samsung Note 8 smartphone and I was hooked! I was initially painting for leisure but later commercialized it an I’ve not looked back since.
FA: How would you describe your artwork? What software or tools do you use in creating your works?
Annette: My art is an extension of myself; funky, playful, fun, vibrant and above all unconventional. My main tool is my smartphone and it’s always a Samsung model. I currently use a Samsung Note 10 and my works have never turned out better.
FA: Being a female in a male-dominated industry must be challenging. Do you feel the environment is too harsh for women like your type? What motivates you to excel?
Annette: It is true that the industry is male-dominated and quite challenging if not intimidating as many of these artists are very talented and extremely good at what they do. However, I’ve seen female Ghanaian digital artistes like Bennie Buatsie who are challenging the status quo with their distinct artistic styles and to me, that’s inspirational. There’s room for all of us to shine in this industry but it all trickles down to originality, creativity, innovation, and perseverance and I look forward to seeing more women aboard this wagon of excitement.
FA: When creating your artworks, how do you go about choosing the concept for your creation? Do you sometimes adopt traditional methods to create a unique design?
Annette: As I earlier stated, my art is just an extension of my bubbly personality and being conventional is a mood killer for me so I choose to be otherwise. The concepts are often not premeditated, I randomly pick a muse and it’s often a portrait. What it becomes afterward is a result of freely flowing creativity and its always unique.
FA: Evaluating the digital art industry from a Ghanaian perspective, how would you describe the market? What do you predict for the future of this kind of art? Where would you like to see it go? Any major challenge facing the industry?
Annette: The world is gradually evolving and Ghanaians haven’t been left behind. People are gradually beginning to appreciate digital art and as an artist myself, I can testify of the increased patronage. The trick is to couple high quality works with a good marketing strategy in order to reach the right audience and social media has been a very powerful tool in promoting myself and works. In as much as the art fetches a fair income, it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
It is becoming easier by the day to create digital artworks even as an amateur due to the availability of numerous free phone applications and this makes it quite difficult to land contracts as consumers feel they can have an art of almost the same quality at no cost by the power of an app. It takes true lovers of art to appreciate a professional piece. Plagiarism is also rampant as internet users can easily download your work and commercialize it in the form of printed T-shirts and other paraphernalia without an artist’s permission. These are to mention but a few of the challenges we face in the industry.
All these aside, I believe the Ghanaian digital art industry is filled with great potential that can blossom into fruitful ventures in the country and help reduce the alarming unemployment rate we’re wallowing in.
FA: Besides your job as a digital artist, you are also a model and an actor. Which do you love more? And how do you balance all the roles without giving more attention to one?
Living a balanced life requires discipline and proper planning. I have my weekly schedule where I allocate time for all these areas of interest but then, I also ensure I don’t bite more than I can afford to chew most of the time(in terms of contracts) in order to make time for other aspects of my life namely family, church, my grueling MBA course, and friends.
FA: You appear to be a crazy and fun-loving character. What’s your secret to being bubbly most of the time?
Appearances are fickle and deceptive at times but I totally agree with you on this. Over the years, I discovered the beauty and simplicity of life and the importance of making every moment count in order to have a fulfilled life. My paradigm is rather simple. I live and let others live, I give my best in all endeavors just so I don’t have any regrets and maintain a positive mindset at all times. By doing this, I have more than enough peace of mind and joy. Life is genuinely simple if you really mull things over. Once I have God on my side why shouldn't I be bubbly? 😀
FA: How do you hope to change the world using digital art?
Art is life and forever a part of us. I started this for leisure a year ago and I must say, I’ve been exposed to an entirely underrated industry full of raw impressive talent and great potential enough to change the narrative of the art industry in Ghana. I hope to inspire the upcoming creatives to embrace their talents with all the positivity and open-mindedness they can muster because most artists especially those at the SHS level are often discouraged and led to believe art is a waste of time but what they fail to teach these youngsters are the new forms of art like digital art, the necessary technologies that accompany it and the various job opportunities they could venture into in the near future. I look forward to remedying our art education in Ghana in the near future to save the younger generation from all the years of confusion I had to go through.
FA: Any inspiring words for that determined young woman who aspires to be like you?
Annette: The world is evolving and we must keep up if we intend to stay on top or even in the game. Art is a versatile and lucrative field that’s totally underrated in our part of the world. Don’t let anyone convince you to believe otherwise for art is no waste of time. Many are the corporate workers who wish they had a little artistic knowledge or skill to earn extra cash. Don’t be fooled, do your own research, delve deep, equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible, and invest in yourself for your greatest competition is solely with your own ignorance. Just know there’s nothing you can’t do once you have your heart set on it and never forget your creator. He is an artist too!
Follow Annette Lartey on: