Capturing colours and expressing himself through art in a minimalist way: Meet emerging Ethiopian visual artist Robel Assefa

Robel Asseffa is an Ethiopian artist who is based in Ottawa, Canada. He is an up and coming artist, who is currently making a name for himself in the art world. He graduated in civil engineering in 2018 and is currently working on different construction projects in Ottawa, as well as continuing to create new works of art.

Every artist has a story behind their journey. What led you to becoming an artist?

I started art and drawing as a hobby, and I have always enjoyed it. In 2019 I decided that I wanted to be more consistent in my art and to improve my skills, so, I decided to spend more time in learning about the type of art that interested me. This is when I tried experimenting with digital art. Since I started digital art in 2019, I have learned a lot and there is still a lot more for me to learn.

You have worked with various media including painting, digital art and photography. What is your preferred medium when creating and why?

I have used different media including painting on canvas, photography and digital art. I have found that I enjoy digital art over the other media as I can create more in a shorter amount of time. I want to incorporate graphic design into most of my digital paintings to capture colours and express myself through art in a minimalist way.

How would you describe your style?

Currently, I would say that I do not have a signature style because I love trying new styles to test myself and to keep on creating new works. I have a wide range of subject matter that ranges from portraits to entire figures and from fashion to contemporary art.

Often your subject matter focussed on pop culture, black culture and Afrofuturism. For those who are not aware of the term, what is Afrofuturism and how is it represented in your art?

Most artists create things that they are familiar with and which represent the culture from which they come. I think that there are a lot of talented artists that create and represent black culture as well as Afrofuturism; however, it is still not a subject matter that is currently in the spotlight. For people who are new to the term, Afrofuturism combines science fiction and fantasy with African mythologies.

One of my favourite quotes by Ytasha L. Womack is “Empowering people to see themselves and their ideas in the future gives rise to innovators and freethinkers, all of whom can pull from the best of the past while navigating the sea of possibilities to create communities, culture, and a new, balanced world.” As artists we need to create more work in this area in order to share our message and our cultural heritage.

I understand that you have collaborated with various artists designing album covers. Can you tell us more about this?

When coming to collaborations, I enjoy working on music album art. My first piece was for a single called “Special Lady” by Dayo. This piece was what inspired me to create more art and it furthered my interest in collaborating with various musicians. I have done one more piece for Dayo in addition to “Special Lady”.

Currently, I have been working with Braxton Cook and Kilian. These two projects took me a while and gave me the courage to test my style and to switch styles depending on the message I want to share. While these two singles have not yet been released I encourage the readers to look for the latest releases by these two musicians to see my finished art.

In closing, what advice or message can you share with artists new to the art scene?

As an artist the message I would like to share is – no matter what; enjoy what you do and keep on creating.

To see more of Robel’s Afrofuturistic work, you can follow him on Instagram.

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