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Interviews

Squid Alley with Kwarte Lai – I Draw Inspiration From the Supernatural

There aren’t many artists who blend their anime, manga and superhero comic inspirations into a distinctly African art style like Daniel Tawia Quartey aka Kwarte Lai.

As you’d expect, Lai is among the digital crusaders championing the comic book scene in Ghana. He is the creator of Trotro, a short comic available on AfroComix which details his experiences with the local bus system in Accra as well as Unreal, and The Alley, an experimental one-shot on his Behance page.

In typical, fun Squid Alley style, we bugged him enough to share a few things about himself. What follows is a Squid Alley chat with Daniel Tawia Quartey otherwise known as Kwarte Lai.

1.What are your go-to tools?

Inktober Day 4 Submission by Kwarte Lai

My go-to tools would be my black pens and my Wacom Intuos tablet.

2. What inspires you?

Inktober Day 8 Submission by Kwarte Lai

My inspiration comes mostly from Japanese anime and manga.There were also animated shows watched when I was little which influenced the things I drew when drawing began for me. Shows like both the Batman and Superman animated series, Rurouni Kenshin (SamuraiX), Ninja Turtles, Swat Kats and some few other titles I can’t recall. I also draw inspiration from the supernatural or magic themed things…I find it interesting.

3.What major challenges do you face?

My main challenge is probably my own doing lol…which is painting.It’s something I still find very difficult to do when it comes to doing realistic paintings. It’s something I’m working on gradually and it seems to be getting better.

4. What is your favourite (and most fun) piece of work?

My personal works most specifically works related to the “Unreal” comic I’m building up.

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

I listen to movie, game or anime soundtracks mostly when I work, I dunno, some friends still find that weird but everyone has their thing right? Aside from that, I listen to hip-hop rap (a lot of J.Cole and Kanye West) and R&B.

6. What do you do for fun?

Spiderman PC by Kwarte Lai

I draw. I’m used to doing that, when I’m bored, I just sketch random stuff hence my all over the place. Sketches in my sketchbooks. I also play video games or I go see a movie. Not much of a social life I’m trying to adjust little by little.

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

If I could actually change something about my past, I would get myself to start learning digital art way earlier instead of using the computer for games only. Probably I would be better than I am now even though I”m Not bad currently lol.

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

Hopefully in the next three years weshouldbevery close to the standard of companies that are already the Titans in comics, games and animation. That’s if we put certain things in place to keep the wheels turning fast.

In relation to that. I know some few bodies and you guys, Squid Mag are doing your share already and it’s a good start. One thing we should always bear in mind is that the other countries thriving in these sectors have institutions and bodies that train and back people who are interested in the comics, games and animation sectors.

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Looking at that, I think even in Ghana here..we still lack things like that which puts a lot of strain on the few organizations and individuals who are trying hard to do cool stuff.

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

Hmmm…I don’t really have a top three because they are all awesome in their own right.


See more of Kwarte Lai’s work on his Instagram, Facebook and Behance pages. Also, check out what he’s done so far on his Unreal Comic here.

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