7 Ghanaian Illustrators you should know about
Looking for Creative inspiration, these are our top recommendations
Written by Menenaba
Traditionally, Ghanaian culture has always incorporated visual storytelling. Our famous Kweku Ananse folklore passed down from generation to generation includes descriptions like dotwedotwe, nankonhwiaa, and tikelenkelen to breathe life into the narratives. It came as no surprise then when between the mid-80s and the year 2000, creatives invested in imagination-driven hand-painted posters for films and barbershops. These artistic expressions pushed the boundaries of contemporary art and design at the time while birthing a millennial age of Ghanaian illustrators with unparalleled skill and perspective.
Let’s take a journey to discover the diverse styles, influences, and narratives of the 7 key illustrators shaping the visual landscape of Ghana today.
7. Hanson Akati
Born in 1989, Hanson Akatti became a household name as the official BBNZ senior graphic designer, creating album covers for E.L., Efya, DJ Juls’, and Fokn Bois. As his art matured, he collaborated with well-known events like Detty Rave and Afrochella now AfroFuture, to create unique illustrations for marketing purposes. His work is a combination of all his passions: music, graffiti, film, hip-hop culture, and comic books, crafting cartoonish characters and colorful illustrations through the lens of the culture and metropolitan life in the capital. You can find Hanson Akatti on X where he sometimes shares evidence of him immortalizing his friends through captivating caricatures in dynamic colors.
Several illustrators sell their art online and in content stores, but none of them have the impact that Yobbings Greeting Cards do. The team behind the amazing fun art painstakingly borrows from the colors, languages, and gestures of everyday Ghanaians. Inspired by native and modern cultural references, Yobbings, founded and creative directed by Ama Asantewaa Diaka, well known as Poetra Asantewaa, offers an assortment of must-have cards, each with elaborate, quirky illustrations accompanied by downright honest texts. The lighthearted language of the greeting cards also explores thoughtfulness and love that is designed to be kind and sweet. There are cards for your mother, sophisticated ones to apologize to your partner, birthday wishes to your best friends, and a lot more.
5. Steve French
Born Steve French Oduro in 1993, this fashion illustrator has spent his entire life celebrating the black woman’s form and accentuating the patterns that make her beautiful. Steve French started out drawing at the tender age of eight. He noticed that when he sketched the characters of his favorite cartoon shows, he always paid extra attention to their outfits. Therefore, he started paying attention to fashion in general. Thus began his journey to global success. You will find Steve on Instagram sharing his picture frame with high fashion illustrated models. When he is not posing next to his art, he is in Milan working on his self-titled fashion brand.
One word – imaginative! Uber-talented illustrator Hashim has done everything to prove that he is deserving of the title “key illustrator” in Ghana. He created the official Davido A.W.A.Y. Festival flyer. He has worked on track cover art for Black Sherif, Kwesi Arthur, Yung D3mz, DJ Juls, Kidi, and many others. Following Irish writer Oscar Wilde’s advice to either be a work of art or wear a lot of art, Hashim has invited his massive online fan base to wear his art. He has a merch brand that spills his illustrations on tee shirts, crop tops, caps, and shorts.
3. Viola Thee Artist
Newcomer visual artist and self-taught illustrator, Viola Dodoo stepped into the limelight this year. Starting as an experimental makeup artist and somewhat of a social media celebrity, she has garnered high praise for her murals and illustrations. This year alone, Viola Thee Artist has showcased in three group exhibitions highlighting women artists. She continues to share playful caricatures of herself and her friends on X.
With over 33 group and solo shows to his credit, Afroscope, born Nana Isaac Akwasi Opoku is a frontrunner illustration artist. Born in Tema, Nana straddles the worlds of myth, multi-universe mystery, and automatism in his work. The work he does “attempts to deconstruct normative reality and challenge popular tropes about Afrika(ns) by imagining transcendental visual narratives that usually comprise otherworldly beings, speculative dreamscapes, and peculiar forms,” he shares as part of his artist statement. His inspirations include the Yoruba concept of Ashè, the Nguni Bantu philosophy of Ubuntu, and the Akan Adinkra symbology.
1. Xane Asiamah
Xane Asiamah’s surreal enigmatic art has captivated many online who attend his solo shows as loyal fans of his incredible detail, vibrant storytelling, and futurism. The modern and traditional layers of his references set him apart from his peers. Meanwhile, his journey as a digital artist and illustrator has been stimulated by the beauty of women, African symbols, and culture. This “surrealist shifting through worlds” was born in 1996.
These seven visionary Ghanaian illustrators, each drawing inspiration from different aspects of their Ghanaianess today, are collectively ensuring that future generations have an expressive reference point for the creative artistic landscape of local art reflecting global standards.
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