Interview with Julie Kouamo. Images of Love Through Art. by Ronke Lawal.

Julie Kouamo, Black Contemporary Artists, Black Designers, Black Female Artists

Julie Kouamo is a multi-faceted artist who uses her passion for creativity to develop art in many different forms. She creates stationery, fabrics, wallpapers, cushions and lampshades, and also develops bespoke fabric designs. Her latest collection of love cards has inspired this interview focusing on her vision of “Love through Art” .

Your creativity spans a number of different platforms. How does this reflect your view of art as a whole?

For me diversity in creativity and art is essential — art is a means to express vision and beauty as well as to show and reflect the present times and society. Besides art cannot just be reduced to paintings, sculpture or poetry. Art is now present in Fashion, Textiles, Architecture, Music and others forms, which means it doesn’t matter in which form the artist expresses himself as long as his/her vision comes through.

That is why my creativity is not restricted to one type of art. My inspirations come from renowned painters such as Rothko or Egon Schiele as much as African tribal objects and techniques and even nature. Finally I view art as a way to understand someone’s journey, vision or message to others.

Julie Kouamo, Black Contemporary Artists, Black Designers, Black Female Artists
(Julie Kouamo – Nenta Sofa – Bangou Collection)

Which style of art or design do you feel expresses the essence of who you are most accurately?

I would say Abstract art. It can seem contradictory as my textile fabrics tell stories through figurative patterns but I am very inspired by Rothko, Soulages and Miro’s paintings. They are expressing their emotions and feelings through colours and shapes. Besides abstract art enables the spectator to be free in feeling what they want while looking at their artwork.

Do you create based on your own loves and passions, or do you keep in mind the desires of others?

Patterns and prints are created through my own passions and inspirations. Travels are my main sources of inspiration and even though it is not directly taking into account, the desires of others. I am inspired as much by people that I meet during my trips as I am by my own story. However the products that I make are, I believe, what people would like to see in their interior.

How has your mixed race heritage influenced your artistic style, if at all?

It has definitely influenced my style! I am lucky enough to have gone to Cameroon during my childhood and the traditional print making techniques as well as the rich and powerful colours have been present since in my textile. Moreover my European upbringing gave me the knowledge of the Occidental culture. It means now I am creating an interior brand mixing my African heritage with my European life.

Which relationships have influenced you to create your design work?

My design work is influenced mainly by the relationship I have with myself I would say. To be more precise it is quite an introspective work — I try to understand where I come from and how it inspires my work.

How have you used your art to express the emotion of love?

For example for this year Valentines’ day I wanted to express love through both of my origins. I adapted Adinkra symbols — visual pictograms used to represent aphorisms and concepts in West Africa with the heart, western symbol of Love. I wanted to create a card that is original unique and that appeals to both worlds.

Julie Kouamo, Black Contemporary Artists, Black Designers, Black Female Artists
(Julie Kouamo – Postcards)

I have expressed love, as well, to Cameroon and my family in the Esplanade pattern — mixing both origins adapting the toned down colour scheme from France with the bright and powerful Cameroonian earthy colours, using European pattern style with African vegetation imagery.

Julie Kouamo, Black Contemporary Artists, Black Designers, Black Female Artists
(Julie Kouamo – Esplanade Beige Cushions)

What does love mean to you?

I could not function without love — familial love, which believes in you in any circumstances good or bad, the friendship love which supports you in your venture and is able to give you constructive feedback. And finally the love of that special someone, who lives through the everyday ups and the downs and who puts up with your continuous self-questioning nature no matter what.
Love means that and even more.

Julie Kouamo, Black Contemporary Artists, Black Designers, Black Female Artists
(Julie Kouamo – Heart Valentine) — @juliekouamo

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