Xane Asiamah: The Interview.
Updated: Jun 7, 2018
Xane Asiamah is a self-taught realist artist from Ghana. His hyper realistic drawings and colourful paintings are created through charcoal, ink, acrylic paint and graphite in layers to create a realistic reference. As a versatile artist , with digital art and design also mastered, Xane continues to shock the world with his intricate pieces.
Why did you get into art?
Well, It’s complicated. I was born into a family of artists, my dad was a pastel artist for like a year but now he’s into home décor. I grew up seeing his works around the house, my mum makes jewellery. I liked drawing as a child and in JHS is when I became really good. I’m the only one who actually draws in my house, the rest of them are more into 3D art. I don’t know really, I just love it. I just loved being able to create something. As life became more difficult, art became something more for me. There’s a lot of madness in my life and it helps with my problems. It’s just like when you’re reading a book and you’re gone, I just get immersed in my art so it’s like I’m not in my house. That’s why there’s so much detail in my work and it takes so long to complete. I listen to classical music, I love Mozart, while I draw and the music plus my work, I’m completely gone. Art is an escape.
Favourite art style?
Currently, I’m more of an expressionist person, where people use their art to express how they feel. It used to be realism, where people try to create exactly what they see. I realized that realism doesn’t really carry a message, to me anyway. You just see the art and go “Oh it’s nice..”. That’s it, but expressionism has more of a story, like what led you to do this? What were you thinking during the process?
What’s your art style like?
I won’t lie, I don’t have an art style, I’m kind of everywhere. I just like to experiment and try and get better at whatever I’m experimenting with. Even my Instagram, everything is so different, someone actually thought I was a group of people!
Favourite thing to draw?
Beautiful things! It’s based on my mood, I mean, last week I’d have said women but now flowers or something weird. It’s just based on my mood.
What’s the first thing you remember drawing?
Batman! It’s a funny story that even my mum doesn’t remember, so I was really young and I wanted to draw Batman and I couldn’t so I went to my mother and asked her to draw him for me. I got her a pencil and she drew Batman and I looked at it and it looked horrible. I watched Batman all the time and this looked nothing like him. I got mad, and said I’d draw it myself. After some small crying, I drew him myself and it actually looked nicer than the one my mum drew.
There are a lot of people who draw portraits and women but what makes yours different, how do you make your art yours?
I think it’s the detail and the time I spend on each piece.
What’s the story behind your trademark symbol? What message does it send?
Okay, so you know how people have spirit animals, my spirit animal is a wolf, you can see it from my twitter page, and even my necklace. I didn’t feel good enough to go to God so a spirit animal made things easy because I needed something to help me cope. It’s derived from an ancient rune, it’s the symbol for wolf. Any time I was going through something I just had to draw it somewhere to remind myself of my strength and courage. But then soon enough, it became a symbol of pain for me, because the only time I looked to it was when I was in trouble or struggling. So it got to a point where I had to look to the symbol every day, for like the past 7 months, so I had to enhance and make the symbol mine, since I was going to see it everyday. I made it mine and it would encourage me and I’d feel better. It got to a point where I was drawing it on my hand everyday, I even have it on right now. I also made a really big artwork with it. I place it directly in front of my bed so every time I wake up I see it.
What’s the most challenging thing about making the kind of art you make?
I’m a perfectionist actually so, If I finish a piece and I don’t like it, no matter how long it took me, it’s gone, I rip it up. I can spend up to weeks on a piece and I won’t like it and the hardest part is ripping it up. It feels like the whole week has been wasted.
What’s your creative process like?
At first I used to like realism, it’s what I started with actually, and I realised that’s what everyone else did, everyone who did pencil art. So during my horrible 7 months, I got an idea, I used to look at people who struggled with depression and most of them had diaries to document their feelings so I decided to do something like that. So I have a book, its not a sketchbook, it’s a normal diary book.
Everyday I’d draw how I felt. It might sound hard but it’s not when I’m in those moods, I just picture how I feel and I put it down. It’s easier than writing, I just sketch how I feel and then I forget about it and any time I want to start a new piece I just pick the one that I feel more towards. So I pick the piece I want to do, I go online and do research, I get a whole mood board on ideas on how to make it perfect. Drawing is an emotional thing for me, it’s when all my thoughts are alone. I take a lot of breaks and I listen to classical music, especially Mozart, it helps me concentrate. While some artists wait till the end to shade and all that, I do all that from the beginning, rather then step by step, cause to me it must be perfect from the top to the end.
Tell me about your first exhibition
All my exhibitions have been amazing to be honest. The first one was the hardest one, it was with Ghana art festival, at Jaguar in 2016. I had to pay for a stand and it went for 500 cedis. My parents thought I was wasting my time with art so when I went to ask them for money that it was my first ever exhibition as an artist and they told me they didn’t have anything for me. I was like cool, at least buy some two frames for me and they were like ”Nah”. Getting the stand was really important to me because they had actually reached out to me and I was really shocked. I knew I had to do it no matter what, so I was just looking for people who wanted portraits done so I’d get some money. They actually sent me the email about 3 weeks before the event, so for the next 2 weeks I was mad in the house, making calls and trying to find jobs. We were supposed to pay the week before the event, and on the day I didn’t have the money so I had to beg the guy so I’d pay the next day and he finally agreed. So I managed to get the money, with the help of a very good friend of mine and it was a two day exhibition, my parents came, they saw and they were so happy and they were proud of me, but I was mad at them so it didn’t touch me. The second day! It was crazy, we, the artists, got there- Jaguar - and the gates were locked! Rita, stress! The vendors arrived, we called the guy and he said, there was a problem with one of the guys and the manager so they weren’t going to let us in. We had to run around from Silverstar tower to Jaguar and the Silverstar people couldn’t take us in cause on the flyer it said Jaguar, even though we had the money and all. Ultimately we had to cancel the second day, my dad came to get me and I think I went to the beach that day, just to think. I wanted to cry so bad I was disappointed. So basically I paid 500 cedis for just one day.
Have you done any collaborations? With who and how was it working with other artists?
I tried one with Lena but we saw it wasn’t working out, it was for an exhibition we were working on together, Untamed Empire, and there was so much work to do with the exhibition that we decided to just scrap it. I’ve tried working with some t-shirt companies but nah. Most of the t-shirt companies are mad and they’re young. There was this company (name withheld), that contacted me that they’d like some designs. I gave them one and they loved it. I sent a second one and this young owner, told me, when I’m doing something I should make sure it’s nice to me, herh! Me, honestly, I’m mean, not mean but naturally I’m not a nice person. I just blocked him, he called me asking if I blocked him and I just cut the line and blocked him. He was so rude. There was another company, they wanted to print my art but the quality was terrible. Even the one I’m wearing right now is imported.
How have your family and friends been in terms of support of you and your art?
Uhm, my friends are supportive, not money-wise though, this is Ghana. Family…it’s some way, since the exhibition stuff, when I realised they weren’t actually supporting me, they were just there for the good times, I had to do it all on my own. My parents want me to go into 3D art, like home decor and all that. I plan to go into that after school, along with my art. It’s the sensible option. They didn’t believe my art could sell, it’s a joke to them. Out of a 100, I’ll give them 30 in terms of support. They’ve started falling back in the support again, because I’m in my final year and they want me to start something more serious like my dad’s line of work, rather than being locked in my room all day.
What do you have to say about the attitude of Ghanaians towards art, do you think there will be any change?
It’s bad..On a scale of 1-10, it’s a 4. There are only 2 categories of artists promoting art in Ghana, the young artists and people who wanted to do art, weren’t able to do it, traveled out and came back to set up somewhere for artists, like Antique Lemonade. Apart from that there’s no in between. They see it and go “Oh, it’s nice.” That’s it. So when I find people who actually want to buy my art, I value them so much. Like wow, you bought a piece of my soul. I constantly check up on them. It’s getting better though because of awareness and people are becoming more interested. Maybe the next 2 or 3 years will be better.
Our interview with Xane was one of a kind. Buy his work from www.artemartis.store
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