“Many people think about job security, but I feel skill security is more important. You can lose a job at any moment so that’s not really security. But if you have the skillset and drive, it can take you very far, so to me, an impressive skillset will give you more security than a job.”— Darkmythst
In this illuminating interview, multi-disciplinary artist Darkmythst, known for his distinct Afrofuturist aesthetic and the founder of Afri’ko™ Luxury Made, discusses his creative process, inspirations, and his various artistic ventures.
Darkmythst’s unique approach to visual art is marked by vivid imaginings, a fascination with the intersection of nature and the cosmos, and a desire to bring positivity and love through his creations. His artistic vision spans various forms, ranging from digital and 3D art to music and sound design, all deeply influenced by sci-fi themes and historical myths.
Brady Walker: What can you tell me about your Daydreaming series and the compilation piece Suspended in Thoughts? I was really impressed with the latter and how you used a balletic camera movement to capture all three vignettes.
Darkmythst: The series was a combination of art and storytelling, from the Afrofuturistic standpoint. The symbolism behind this shows three characters in a cave, gazing at a unique force that has them mesmerized and ‘daydreaming.’ The cave represents the mind and the elements they are looking at represent their passions and desires. The series will have a Part II as the characters find their way out of the cave into what I’ll create as a solarpunk theme.
BW: Pieces like Dancing to My Own Tune and Sky Cruisin’ Date signal a key signature of your brand of Afrofuturism, and that is a kind of techno-utopian slant, a lushly green future where it seems like humans finally learned how to simultaneously be technophilic and at peace with nature. Can you comment on what you may hope audiences feel when seeing works of yours like these?
DM: The idea is about being playful, free, and happy. It takes a surreal matter and indicates the desire for peace. I like my art to be positive and inspire love. While it would be much easier for me to create art stemming from pain, I find it more of a challenge imagining and implementing such a futuristic tantalizing future. The past is past, and the present sets us up for the future. But by thinking in the present about the future, we can prepare ourselves.
Neural Starseed Networks is unlike anything of yours I’ve seen. What were your earliest experiments with this style, and how did it evolve?
I find nature and cosmics are an art that the universe has perfected. Everything from the largest mountain to the smallest microbe has a beautiful construction to it. I find all these fascinating, including the idea of our spirits coming from a source, the light (or self) whatever it may be. If you look closely at the design, you’ll see geographical structures, and a network of lights (starseeds) in motion. These are our very essences, navigating its ways to experience life. Each starseed (soul) with its own purpose.
It was very complicated when I first drafted it out and the challenge would be to create these structures that the lights could follow. I used Houdini for this entire process, and plenty of experimenting, where some were accidental but exactly what I needed. I also wanted it to be mesmerizing and the intent was to have this as a motion visual meant for a large display. I study frequency, color, and motion in art, so trying to fuse all of that together to engage the mind was the goal.
Enter the Nucleus is the biggest stylistic outlier of the series. What’s going on with this piece?
My father was a microbiologist, so I grew up learning about cells and viruses at a very early age. I was fascinated with the fact that these tiny things were alive and had duties in our bodies. The nucleus being the center point is as much as the soul to the body. So Enter the Nucleus, is the start to the beginning of life. The colors are intentional, and I wanted to use the palette of vegetation as I also find it interesting that a seed can grow into an incredible tree, simply from water and light.
I love the parallelism between astronomy and neural circuitry in the Neural Starseed Networks series. Did you approach pieces with an idea in mind — e.g., This is going to be my planetary exploration, this is my more neural-looking exploration — or did the concept arrive after you’d been traveling a given creative path?
It was a combination of the most fascinating and curious elements in life. The brain network is incredibly fascinating. The things in life we do not think of, but once you look into it, it lends more questions than answers. I’m bridging mind, body, and soul and implementing my own theory as to what happens before and after life, whether I’m wrong or not. But there is an art to the possibilities of what is happening in the unseen dimension. At the same time, I wanted to bring something different to the art space. It took several months to develop this because I wanted to create and use a technique hard to replicate, as well as bring awe to this.
Tell me about your brand Afri’ko™ Luxury Made. I love the wooden hair picks!
This came about one day when I broke an afro comb I had. I’d just bought a 3D printer and thought, “Why go buy one when I can make a new comb?” I initially grabbed a simple comb model file and printed it. But then I got an idea, “Why don’t I sculpt and create my own?”
Being from Ghana, a lot of our artifacts are hand carved and created with symbols from our culture. After I designed the first comb and posted it, I received a lot of inquiries as to if I was making these available. I figured I had all the resources I needed to start creating these, and soon I was digitally sculpting and manufacturing these pieces. That was the birth of Afri’ko™ Luxury Made, where the intention is to create physical decorations and tools with my fingerprint. The designs each have a specific meaning, and I could educate people with the art and the meanings behind some of the tribal symbols and creations.
How does music (playing, writing, and listening) affect or play into your creative process as a visual artist?
I have a passion for music and sound design as well. For many years, I was more focused on music than visuals. But nowadays, I split between the two. What I find fascinating is that you can change the meaning of a visual simply by adding music and depending on the chord progression or sounds you use, you can allow the person viewing and listening to feel.
Take for example if I did an art piece with a character walking. If I put cartoon-like, foley music behind it, there’s a sense of humor or carefreeness in it. But if I put something slow behind it, you get a sense of loneliness or deep thought. The music accompanying the art makes a huge difference in how the visual is interpreted.
How would you describe the work you make?
I try my best to create art that would be completely different from what many may see. It’s mainly about invoking positivity. I have a very vivid imagination and I like to challenge myself in pushing out these things I imagine. I’m versatile in that I create abstract, character, and scenic art. All of these are ingredients, and I hope one day to fuse them all to make short films.
I’m a sci-fi nerd, so most of my work is focused on the theme of sci-fi. Also, my work usually will have meaning from historical myths, hence the name Dark’Myth’st, where I feel it’s fun to generate stories from myths and tales.
What’s the most helpful thing you’ve learned in the last year or so that has helped you in your creative career? This could be a new habit you’ve picked up, something helpful in a tricky software, a new mindset, or anything else.
Experimentation and always learning. I’m on YouTube almost daily picking up tips. I tend to prefer using challenging software and methods for several reasons: to build my skill set, to stand out, and also just curiosity.
I try to split my days or hours between several skill sets, and because I have quite a few skill sets, it’s important I continue to bounce back and forth as it can be difficult to retain all the knowledge I’ve gained. Most times, it develops new ideas and inspiration.
Can you share any specific rituals or practices that help you maintain your creative momentum?
I’ll spend time searching around YouTube for unique techniques which tend to inspire me. Many times, I discover software or equipment I never heard of.
Being that I dive into multiple disciplines from woodcutting and carving, clay sculpting, music, 3D art, Lidar Technology, etc., my main challenge then is to decide what to work on. At that point, whatever I’m most inspired to do, I will take on.
How do you think about balancing the business aspect of making a creative career and the creative process?
The creative process is a journey to enjoy whereas the creative career is the goal. If you can enjoy the journey, regardless of the challenge, the goal is much appreciated. Without that, the challenge of the journey could cause one to stray from the goal.
Many people think about job security, but I feel skill security is more important. You can lose a job at any moment so that’s not really security. But if you have the skillset and drive, it can take you very far, so to me, an impressive skillset will give you more security than a job.