Given the lack of African representation in the digital media industry, Jepchumba, the creator of African Digital Art, thought it was important to showcase and connect various artists across Africa that are making their mark on visual culture. The quality of innovative, professional and thought-provoking works we see on African Digital Art is amazing. Jepchumba is a visual artist, herself, specializing in web design, digital art and audio and video production. She tells us why she started African Digital Art, how she keeps up with the trends and how you can get connected with the network of artists she represents.
How did you become interested in digital art?
My journey into digital art was a reluctant one. Since I could remember I was always interested in graphic art, I think I get it from my Mom, she is the creative one in my family. However, I never considered myself an artist mainly because I didn’t recognize that I had any talent in it. When I went to college for my undergrad, I majored in Criticial Social Thought and we were always required to write long long papers, I found that I always ended up doing some sort of creative project to express my ideas rather than just using words. I soon found out that I had successfully completed a large amount of digital projects from films, animations, web design projects, games and more. I recognized that I actually loved combining technology and art and pursuing digital art would only be a natural progression.
You’ve linked your appreciation for digital art with your love of Africa on African Digital Art. Can you tell us about the African Digital Art website? Why do you think it is so important to curate this space online and bring together African artists?
African Digital Art Network really came out of a real need to showcase Africa’s talent. For too long the digital media industry had largely ignored Africa as a source for digital art, even though Africa has along and strong visual artistic culture. African digital art is not merely an online magazine it is a network that is bringing artists and professionals together to really synthesize the digital media industry. This network is comprised also of a social networking component which we are calling the community where you can upload your profile and communicate with fellow artists, professionals and enthusiasts.
African Digital Art Network is crucial because it not only fosters the creative community it also helps strengthen and develop a creative economy that is much needed in Africa.
You do everything—web design, digital artwork, and audio and video production. How do you keep up with all the latest design skills and trends?
The main way I keep my head above water is through African Digital Art. I am constantly inspired by the amount of talent that is out there. If you have any doubts I encourage you to take a a look at African Weekly Inspiration on our site every week. I usually find a project and I have to find out how they did it and try it myself. I mention on my website that I dream in digital and it is true. I am constantly drumming up new ideas and being digital allows you to truly experiment with a wide range of techniques.
How do you choose your projects? Are their specific projects that you enjoy working on more than others?
Like I mentioned before I choose projects if I am inspired. Other times I am commissioned to work for certain clients. I particularly enjoy motion graphic projects, yes I can say those are my favorite. I haven’t had much time recently to dedicate myself fully but I do love those kind of projects in particular.
Do you think artists have certain social responsibilities? If so, why?
Artists are no different than any other group of people and with that does come social responsibilities. For centuries, artists have often been looked at as the truthful voice of society, which is why many of them have been persecuted in the ages. I would say their main charge is to continue to be truthful and honest in their art and be true to themselves first above anything else.
However, we as consumers of art should also take responsibility in preserving our culture and appreciating the great work that artists do as well. This is especially true in Africa where we don’t take much interest in the art world. It is unfortunate that most of our cultural houses are supported by outside, and often, foreign entities, rather than our own. The world certainly appreciates African art and we need to do the same by supporting local artists and institutions.
You seem to do a great job of managing and promoting yourself and projects. Do you have any advice for graphic designers and other digital artists trying to build a business around their passion for art?
I would say start by joining the African Digital Art community http://africandigitalart.com/community. Get to know your community and reach out to them, collaborate on projects. Whatever you do, you must keep experimenting.
Keep trying out new techniques and always try to get as much feedback as you can. I really feel blessed to live in a time where social media is so vibrant. Take advantage showcase your work on as many platforms as you can.
Can you share with us some of your art?
Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?
Oh wow, that is such a great question. I think living unchained means being unchained from conformity.
“Art Brings Life” by Jepchumba