Chanda Karimamusama: Tell me a bit about yourself. Who is Angela, where’s she from, what does she do, who does she want to be?
Angela Chilufya: Well I’m from Zambia and I was born in Kabwe. I waitress at 2 hotels, and I’m a student at Falmouth university. I graduate in July and I’m honestly still trying to figure out what I want to do but I know for sure it’s not being a waitress! The whole situation’s actually kind of daunting – my life as an adult is sort of beginning and what not. In any case, I’m leaning more towards Creative Director or starting a business of my own.
CK: Let’s talk art. How would you describe your work? What are you trying to say with it? Are you actively trying to say anything at all?
AC: I get weirded out when I’m asked to describe my work. I’m afraid of sounding pretentious!
Basically, my pencil work is fairly rough. I tend not to focus on how realistic or perfectly shaded my work is. That’s just not me, I don’t feel like I’m purposefully trying to say anything with some of my work. People will see my stuff, point things out, and I’ll usually just be like “oh yeah!” Whenever I’m trying to say something it’ll mostly be about (my own) inner wellbeing and state of mind. I guess.
CK: Your art, ‘tis lit. What’s your process? What do you use? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AC: Lit? Why feennkyoouu! I wish I had some professional process to share, but honestly, I just pick up my pencil or laptop, pick a subject, and get on with it! I’ll usually pick out lights and darks; create an outline and somehow it all comes together! It’s legit a shock to me when something works out! My inspiration: I’d have to say, Sergio Toppi. Not because my work looks anything like his, but because I love the way his work looks! His use of white space and lines is just mind blowing! I’d like to create work that is captivating, and as lame as it sounds, I’m also pretty inspired by my boyfriend! *Dies inside of excess cheesiness*. He’ll say something or describe it and it’s kinda like “AHA”! I think it’s ok for me to run with his ideas because well… he’s not going to draw them!
CK: I love your brush-stroke portraits. What inspired them? Also, what have been some of your biggest influences – ever?
AC: Thank you! In my first year at Falmouth I used to keep a journal where I would go mental with brush strokes, paints, draw freely, and write everything and anything that came to mind! I’ve since adopted this into my current work. Biggest influencers ever-ever? Ahahaha, that’s a heavy question! I actually don’t have an answer to that. All the schools I’ve been to try to teach and get us to latch onto this stuff, but I never actually pay attention.
CK: What are you currently working on?
AC: Nothing major, just trying to keep my website and social media pages popping and updated. I’m trying hard to stay on top of my coursework too, it usually stacks up and makes me super panicky a week before hand in. I’m pretty eager to get involved in some kinda project or anything though, so umm *cough-cough*, holla at your girl if you need anything!
AC: Hahaha! It really is! I just realised that!
CK: What’s your experience been as an African kid studying in an increasingly populist Europe for a BA in Art (one of the less conventional choices for higher learning)?
AC: Well, I’ve studied and lived in England for the last 13 years and the whole being an African student in a British school system thing only really hit me in my first year of varsity. Since then it’s been a little tough. I literally only have one other black girl on my course; she’s my best bud – of course.
CK: We had a conversation earlier about the lack of black representation within art and the arts education. What do you think could be done differently to change that and are you doing anything, in particular, to aid that change along?
AC: The UK has a serious lack of African and/or black representation within the arts. Since primary school, my teachers only seemed to be aware of African masks. Masks are great, but African art is so much more. Do they really expect kids who were raised from back home to believe that the entire continent of Africa only has masks to offer the artistic world?
I was really affected by this throughout my first two years at varsity, so I decided to play my role in changing the situation. I wanted people to be able to find Zambian artists, admire their work, draw inspiration, and see that we had more to offer than masks. I started a page called ‘Zed Visual Arts’ with my partner Chimora. It was months of talking about it and then one night we were just like “hey let’s do it!” It’s up and running, but due to work and hitting my graduation year it really has slowed down. It’s disappointing, but I’m hoping to pick it back up and keep the momentum going soon.
CK: Are you earning off your work? How challenging is it to come about work – do you find yourself having to go out and find clients?
AC: I’m earning some money. Small-small, you know? Finding clients is proving to be difficult. I’m an Introvert and that get’s in the way. More often than not, I’m waiting on people to come to me! Sometimes I’m brave enough to contact them directly though.
CK: Are you at all politically inclined? Do you think that as an artist it’s important to be?
AC: I’m not at all politically inclined! I mean I have my opinions, but it’s not really what interests me artistically. Personally, I don’t think that artists particularly need to speak on political matters. We all have our different interests.
CK: What is the artist’s role in the Zambian and African society?
AC: Currently, I think that the artist’s role in Zambian/African society is to show people that creativity should be taken seriously and that it can work professionally. Some members of the older generation are stuck on the idea that you can only experience career success as a doctor, lawyer, or something like that, and that’s exactly what they’ll drum into the minds of younger people who will in turn then look down on creative professions. So yeah, we have to show people that we can be successful as creatives. Does that make sense?
CK: Yeah, sure. It goes without saying that the African art community isn’t where it used to be, but it hasn’t quite reached its peak either. What tools and support do you find yourself still lacking?
AC: Really, I think I need all the support I can get! I need platforms (other than my own) where I can share my work with wider audiences. That’s pretty much it! In order to get to where it deserves to be, the African art community needs to support/uplift it’s members and begin to work towards developing their skills.
CK: How important is it for you to develop your own style and why?
AC: I don’t think it’s incredibly important. But that’s how clients find you, according to what I’ve been taught at least! As a lowly artist you are constantly developing, and over time your style can and should change. It’ll show your adaptability and that should be a good thing for both yourself and clients.
CK: Are you open to collaboration?
AC: I’m very open to collaboration! I love collaboration. It doesn’t have to be with other illustrators, I’d like to expand and collaborate with as many artists from other art forms as possible. I think it’ll help me grow as an artist and as a person.
CK: Are you any kind of big on Digital Art? Do you see yourself following the trend and leaning more towards it?
AC: I LOVE DIGITAL ART, a little too much even! I think I might forget how to actually draw if I don’t get back to simple pencils soon! But really I see myself using a mixture of both. I find that one doesn’t work so well without the other.
CK: What do you have planned for 2017?
AC: I didn’t make New Year resolutions this year! They always go straight down the toilet after the first couple of weeks! Instead, I’m making New Year solutions! I started with my website and have slowly been working towards all the other things that I’d repeatedly said I wanted to do over the years. My current project is myself; trying to grow up mentally, physically, academically, and financially! I’ll be sure to keep you updated!