In this week's Feature Friday, our own Jayda B. talks with Kenya based artist Gucora Andu about her journey to illustrating, her influences, and the current state of the world and how it affects her art.
Jayda B. - For those who don’t know, can you tell us your name, who you are and what you do?
Gucora Andu - The name I specifically use for my illustrations is “Gucora Andu” which basically means to draw people, in a Kenyan Language. That's basically my focus, to “draw people” to focus on people and if I’m not drawing people then I’m watching the news and listening to what's going on, especially the Black Lives Matter movement currently.
J - With that in mind, has the current state of the world influenced your work?
G - Definitely. I’m seeing more followers for sure. I’m currently only on instagram and I’ve seen more followers. I’ve seen people kind of supporting black businesses, but I also try my best to use my platform to tell people what's going on in general.
J - Do you feel what's happening now is in good intent or do you feel it's becoming trendy with people wanting to support Black artists, Black businesses, etc?
G - I do. I have seen some people who are genuine about it and creators who are genuine and I’ve seen people who are just kind of doing it as a trend. I’m also wondering if all of these new white people who have followed me, if they will unfollow me after all of these activist posts blow over. I have definitely thought about it and I don’t think it's completely in good intention, more than to show other people that you’re a part of the conversation so they don't feel left behind. I really feel about 50 - 60% is not completely well intentioned.
J - That big of a percentage? I don’t think you’re wrong. As a Black person and a creator I understand as I try not to be too strategic about things because this is my truth, this is our truth to how we’ve experienced life. Has that affected your creative process at all?
G - I will say that ever since this kind of started and came into Kenya, It created a pressure for me to create content that was related to that. But I know I have to keep in mind who I’m doing this for, and drawing makes me feel at peace. I don't ever want to get out of that mindset that creating makes me feel good, and not be pressured just because something is going on that I have to draw it. I’m trying to do my own thing either way, despite all of this happening.
J - What's your normal creative process and how do you typically go about making new work?
G - Ever since I was in high school I’ve always liked drawing but I didn't really start until this year really because of the Coronavirus and I’m home, so I have more time. I’m inspired by a very minimalistic vibe. For me, I personally like pinks, browns, and warm colors. When I really started off, I kind of just drew for the sake of drawing but then I realized that I wanted to hold a theme and go with that. When it comes to drawing what I like, I get inspiration from images that I just think are interesting to draw. For example, mental health during this time and the fear of possibly contracting the virus, your family and friends getting the virus and I’ve experienced that so I’ve also drawn that in my own way and talked about that in my work.
J - I saw that you did a report on mental health awareness during the Coronavirus, what made you want to release that?
G - What I was going through especially in the beginning when all of this was so heavy and it was on the news everywhere, reports always would show how many people have the virus, and it's still growing, especially here in Kenya. It really impacted me so I decided to look into how other people were feeling at this time and answer some of those questions in the report.
J - What’s something you try to live by everyday?
G - “One day at a time” because some days can be so productive and work out so great and other days are just not the best. If it's not the greatest day or time I know it will pass over, and it will get better so I keep that in mind. That's what I believe.
Interview by Jayda B.