MakersPlace recently sat down with Nigerian painter and digital artist Balafaama Dan-Princewell, who lent her piece “Hope” as the centerpiece for promoting our recent exhibition “Overturned.”

Hope by Balafaama

MP: Your piece “Hope” was chosen as an outstanding piece to represent our month of women artists. Can you tell me how that piece came together?

B: “Hope” was a piece commissioned for the Colors of the Rainbow Collection curated by my friend, Ayobami, known as 9greenrats in the NFT space. He reached out to me and said he wanted to do this project to highlight Nigerian artists. We were to work with the colors of the rainbow and we were given complete creative independence.

I am not very good at expressing myself with words, so art has always done that for me. The commission came at a time when I had been going through it. The rainbow, to me, signifies hope. After a crazy storm, you look up to the sky, and bam! It’s a rainbow. That was the message I hoped to pass across with my piece: no matter what we were going through, we would be fine in the end.

MP: Can you describe your series “Dearest Diary”? 

B: This collection is so personal to me. I put so much of myself into putting that together. If you also notice, it also features the colors of the rainbow, and the story flows in a sequence (you know the colors of the rainbow). 

It’s a story about Nengi. Nengi is a fictional character made up of stories inspired by real-life events. The collection isn’t complete yet. I’ll be updating it as time goes on.

“the one with tears” from Dear Diary

MP: What is your relationship to lightness and darkness, and how do you use color? 

B: Over time, my art has evolved. When I first started, I never used to work with color. Lightness and darkness in my piece, I’d say, are tools used intentionally to convey emotions and provoke feelings. I use different ranges of contrast to achieve this. 

“Deep in My Roots”

MP: Before your break into NFTs, you often posted detailed pencil and ink drawings. Some of these are now available on the Tezos blockchain, but is that now a style you’ve moved away from? 

B: No, I wouldn’t say I’ve moved away from traditional art. I still paint traditionally, and I am working on some things behind the scenes that I can’t wait to put out. 

“My Best Bud”

MP: How has your digital practice informed your physical art practice? 

B: I started digital art when I got into NFTs. Before then, I never really worked with color. It taught me that. I learned more about contrast and values and working with different textures. This has completely changed art for me, even traditional art. 

“the elephants”

MP: Which women artists in the NFT space do you admire or that inspire you and your work?

B: I’ve met a lot of amazing women since I got into NFTs. Women that have helped guide me through my art journey. Women who have turned into friends and even family. Women like Yinkore, Abieyuwa, Nygilia, Jennie Christian, Freddie Jacob, Erica Metta, Nengi Uranta, Toyo, Lana Denina, Sylvia Innocent… I could keep going, but we are not trying to fill the pages now.

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