Kojo Mesante is a cool, young, and interesting Ghanaian man living in the United Kingdom. He has got a special gift – drawing and painting. Thankfully, he is in his place of purpose. He is an artist who draws inspiration from many sources, including the rich culture of Africa – the heroes, the landmarks, and the spirit of the Africa people are elements of his art. There’s also the desire to “participate in good causes and celebrate people’s successes” at the heart of his art.
The Kumasi-born artist developed his interest in art through cartoons. He was the kind of kid who would draw characters he had seen on Cartoon Network. He had some friends who shared similar interest and they often got into trouble doodling on their books and sketching characters on the class tables. This clique of friends brought their interest in art into their studies, allowing them to excel, particularly in the subject of Arts.
Kojo went to live with his great-grandmother in Atonsu later. It was there that he was exposed to technical drawing in the hands of an acquaintance whose grandmother was friends with his old woman at the time. “I used to just watch him at home after school as he would draw different objects and things around the house with precision”, Kojo said. “The experience really helped shape my style going forward.” Kojo left Ghana for the United Kingdom at the age of 10. His talent immediately got recognized and he was asked to work with another student to create materials for an annual students’ school festival and props for the end of the year’s school stage production of Grease. “I continued to develop my art through primary school to secondary where I created a variety of artworks.”
The skill-honing process continued into the college level where Kojo got admitted into the prestigious St. Francis Xavier Sixth Form College – the same college the famous Nigerian-British musician, Tinie Tempah attended. Kojo worked on a project that involves using art and graphic works to raise awareness about the dangers of not recycling waste materials in the society. He showcased all the creatives in an exhibition. “It was so successful that I gained distinctions at the end of my course and was rewarded with scholarship for my university studies where I studied Graphic Design and Illustration in De Montfort University.”
This patient and purposeful build has been Kojo’s approach to his art, which, to him, is a tool for driving good causes and celebrating the greatness in people – people like Kofi Annan, Burna Boy, and others like them whose life achievements inspire Kojo Mesante. He said to me, “I’m very much into doing things for a good cause and celebrating people’s successes through my art. I feel like the world can be a very dark and negative place. Sometimes it helps having some mediums of escape like books, film or some good news and success stories to show that there is still some light at the end of the tunnel.” He added, “I feel like in life we must learn from others, celebrate them and encourage one another to be our best.”
Kojo’s art career has been consistent at evoking compliments and appreciation from people who either share his belief in the subject of the art piece or are inspired by the work. “My favorite highlights so far have been seeing how people have reacted to my art, whether it be during exhibitions, during job interviews or when I’ve posted them on online, which often leads to people inquiring about commissions and how they can purchase my artwork.” The challenges, however, are nothing uncommon – artist block, just as it is with writers, and issues relating to time management and scheduling that are common freelancer issues. The technicality of merging a mass of insights into simple imagery in advertising also posed a challenge for Kojo. But this didn’t stretch beyond the first few weeks of working in an agency.
Currently, there are multiple projects in the hands of the positivity-preaching artist. “I’m currently trying to develop a children’s book as well as a comic strip, which has been a life long dream since I was in college. It is still in the early stages but I’m working on them and I hope to get it published”, he said. “I also design logos and currently working with a client in Australia and America on branding their businesses.” Kojo Mesante has plans to “assemble and create a “Creatives Company” that celebrates and rewards creatives from all backgrounds especially those in the minority who may struggle to get their foot through the industry door.”
Kojo Mesante hopes to use his art to highlight and celebrate black culture whether it be achievements within entertainment, political or educational fields by creating both traditional ink and digital portraits of black champions, both past and present, that are yet to be known globally. He also aspires to be a good role model for young up and coming black creatives live in the place of doubt, particularly resulting from lack of family and financial support which is quite a thing in the creative and tech industries.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets