Squid Alley with Kaz: Inspiration is Endlessly Pouring In

May 13, 20186 min read

In July 2017, we started Squid Alley, an initiative that shed light on some of the creatives  ( illustrators mostly)  whose work we were in love with.

The goal was and still is to get right into it by asking direct and easy questions. We took a pretty long hiatus but we’re back now! And to swing the initiative back in full gear is Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah, an Accra-based illustrator, graphic designer and by association with Akotowaa (an awesome contemporary writer and author of the book cover above), weaver of intricate stories through his art.

Below is our Squid Alley interview with Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah.

1. What are your go-to tools? 

Illustration of a dark skinned elf with 4 golden horns on her head. Behind her are colorful, otherworldly flowers.

I work with my laptop and a graphics tablet for digital projects. Currently, I use a Huion H610 Pro and it’s pretty awesome considering it’s price. When I’m looking to do something more spontaneous I go for these cool PaintON sketchbooks by Clairefontaine and pretty much any pen I can get my hands on although I do have a soft spot for pencils paired with Graph’it fineliners.

2. What inspires you? 

Illustration of a robot 
Illustration by Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah
Cheat Code

Inspiration is endlessly pouring in from pretty much anything I can experience with my five senses. My daily commute to work, the music I listen to, my friends, the beach and sand in between my toes, it’s overwhelming most of the time. I pretty much go to war mentally before I work cause it’s hard to decide what to focus on.

3. What challenges do you face as an artist? 

Illustration of a witch activating her powers, with a speech bubble that says, "tsk. can't believe I got all dressed up for this".

Illustration by Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah
The Witch

Time. The lack of it to be more specific. I doubt there’s any artistic pursuit that’s beyond me but making time to study and move to executing a solid project out of it all just keeps getting harder and harder. I’ve come to appreciate just how precious time is with all the extra roles I’ve grown into and I’m sorely tempted to drop some of them for art

4. What’s your favourite and the most fun piece you’ve ever worked on?

Illustration of a lone blonde-haired swordsman wearing pink trousers and sneakers, with an olive green sweatshirt praying. Illustration by Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah
The Hunter Prays

Lol! I don’t have one. My approach to art has always been from a place of love and slightly insane obsession so I don’t ever stop to think of which project I enjoyed the most cause every one of them is just me having the time of my life even if it’s some boring commission I take on for dough.

5. Who do you absolutely listen to when you work? 

Illustration of a woman in a pink cybernetic suit with wings by Jefery Kaz Aninkorah

I have a huge playlist for my work sessions but if I absolutely had to make a choice I’d pick Alina Baraz (Urban Flora project with Galimatias), Esta, La Meme Gang, Kay-Ara, Anderson Paak, Ko-Jo CUE, Odunsi, Noname and I know this question sounds like I ought to pick one but I really just can’t

6. What do you do for fun?

Illustration of a man in space, surrounded by augmented reality heads up display, mini robots and other gadgets floating. Illustration by Jefery Kaz Aninkorah
Spaceman XOE by Kaz

Ooh more things than I can mention. I watch loads of movies although I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a film buff, scour the internet for new music (shouts to Harmattan Rain), draw, draw some more, skate in the skies (what’s up AmaaRae? *wink wink*), birdwatching, sex, shadow boxing, reading, a little more drawing, I’ve come to appreciate hanging out with friends and just talking about stuff and I believe with all my heart that going to the beach and staring at the sea is fun.

7. You have 24hrs in the Squid Time Tunnel to change something about your past. What would it be and why?

Overhead illustration of a woman drifting in water in what seems like a jungle. The illustration by Jefery Kaz Aninkorahhas purple and dark pink purples.
Drifting illustration by Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah

I’d go give young me a sound haranguing for listening to people’s opinions on his craft, tell him to believe in himself more and definitely not quit art cause he really can’t and there’s no need to waste two years trying to. Also if I can sneak in one more thing, I’d stop my poor, adorable Alpha (may he rest in adorable, puppy peace) from following me to the junction. It’s a long, sad story. 

8. What’s your hope for African comics, games and animation in the next 3 years?

Angular illustration of a bus with the words Monkey Monkey printed on the side. Artwork by Jefery Kaz Aninkorah
Monkey Test by Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah

Definitely to see them become more accepted in mainstream media and to see all the awesome locally grown franchises that could spring out of that acceptance. I hope more people become aware of what a gold mine we’re sitting on culturally and be more encouraging to young artists. That last part mostly cause it’s something I wish I had growing up.

9. The Triomphant Bonus: Who are your top 3 African creatives across comics, games, animation, music, technology etc?

If I Could Kill My Feelings book cover for Ivana Akotowaa Ofori's by Kaz
If I Could Kill My Feelings (book cover for Ivana Akotowaa Ofori)

Duksarts, Hanson Akatti and Bright Ackwerh. Three is such a small number but I’ll probably write a book if I keep going, there are so many amazing creatives on this continent!

Keep up with Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah on his website and across his Instagram, Adobe Portfolio, Behance, YouTube and New Comma.

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