If you are born outside of Africa, does afro-creativity disappear or is the influence deeper?

David Uzochukwu’s definition of an African artist is one who “is connected to and strongly influenced by his roots.” Although he was born in Europe (fifteen years ago!), David’s work in photography is bound to be transcontinental.  He took the time to speak with Rise Africa about his influence, inspirations, and artistic process.

RA: Tell us about yourself.

DU: My name is David Uzochukwu, I’m 15 years old and living in Luxembourg. I was born in Austria, my mother is from there and my father is Nigerian. Photography is my life.

RA: I think many readers would be surprised that you are 15 years old. How did you get started in photography?

DU: I started a few years back, when I was twelve I think. I just got hands on my mother’s point-and-shoot and that was it, I was totally captivated.

RA: Many artists draw inspiration from their environment. Is this true for you?

DU: I do! Inspiration comes from pretty much everywhere; I just have to keep my eyes open. Books, movies, conversations… the list is endless.

RA: What or who inspires you the most?

DU: What inspires me most are strong feelings and atmospheres. Who inspires me most are young artists like Laura Zalenga or Alex Stoddard, people with a passion that is obvious in everything they do.

RA: What conversation are you hoping to start with your photography?

DU: At the moment, I’m actually not aiming to start anything with my pictures. I’m just creating for myself and letting my thoughts and my imagination become reality.

David Uzochukwu David Uzochukwu David Uzochukwu 114.jpg115.jpg

RA: What camera do you use?

DU: I use a Canon 5D Mark II since summer. Some of my best work was created with a Canon 500D though. As cheesy as it sounds, equipment doesn’t really matter.

RA: So what does matter?

DU: Motivation, and inspiration. Also, a certain sense of aesthetics, and the courage to do what you want to do.

RA: What’s your artistic process like?

DU: Usually, my process goes somewhat like this: I see something that sparks my interest, and I start building a story around it. I sketch out the photograph, and take different aspects like light, colors, clothing and pose into consideration, and how a change could affect the atmosphere of the image. If I know how I want to go about an image and got all the essential material, I shoot the picture. That takes between twenty minutes and an hour. After that, I look at everything I’ve shot on my computer, select the pictures that I like best, or where certain parts really please me, then start putting them together. I change things like colors and contrast, and sometimes I add a little magic. Voilà!

RA: Who are usually the subjects of your photography?

DU: Until now, I’ve only photographed friends and fellow photographers. It was practical, because I could work with people I know and who know me to build my portfolio.

RA: What is the definition of an “African artist”?

DU: An African artist is probably an artist that is connected to and strongly influenced by his roots.

RA: Would you call yourself an African artist? 

DU: I don’t know, honestly. I have never lived in Africa, so I’m not as influenced by the African culture as I am by the European one. I do think that my African genes are visible in my love for strong and bright colors though.

RA: Do you feel as if you have to be born on the continent to be referred to as an African artist?

DU: I don’t think so. For me, it really isn’t about where you’re from, but about how you feel about yourself and your work. So, if you’re white and strongly influenced by the African culture- so be it.

RA: You’re located in Luxembourg. Are you interested in doing any projects on the continent? If so, what kind?

DU: I’m more interested in working with special places all over the world, and connecting them to people. (But I really shouldn’t talk about projects that I haven’t even started yet. It’s a bad habit.)

RA: Where would you like to see yourself, in regards to your work, in 10 years? 

DU: I’d like to see myself surrounded by creative people, doing what I love most, and experimenting a lot.

RA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

DU: Don’t be afraid to fail. If you never try, you’ll never grow.

Connect with David: daviduzochukwu.com | Flickr |  Flickr profile | Tumblr | Facebook


About The Author

Oluwaseun Babalola

Oluwaseun (‘Seun for short) Babalola is a Yoruba filmmaker and editor, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She loves to travel (5 continents down, 2 more to go!) and is happiest when experiencing the simplicities life has to offer. Currently, ‘Seun is spending her time at New York Women in Film & Television and working on her own production company that will create original works tackling varied topics within Africa and the diaspora. Her next step will be to attempt global domination. ".....I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths that are not your own but other people's, the mottos, the slogans, the out-and-out lies of your nations, the myths of your historical moment - once you have removed all that warps experience into a shape you do not recognize and do not believe in - what you are left with is something approximating the truth of your own conception." - Zadie Smith

  • Chi-Chi Ezurike

    wow that last pic is nicely captured!! seen it so many times around diff social network.. good to know the photographer behind it!!