Graphic design as the art of conceiving and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and typographic content would not be an area most of the ladies in Ghana would choose;
However, a young lady known as Karen Oku decided to break all odds and make the courageous decision to focus on graphic design as well as rocking shoulders with her male counterparts in this sector. Karen Oku is a graphic illustrator/designer who resides in the country’s vibrant capital, Accra.
Maybe you’re wondering why we want to introduce Karen. For the simple reason: some of our latest chocolate packaging textile patterns were designed by her.
During fairafric’s visit to Ghana in August 2019, we had the opportunity to visit Karen. She shared with us some interesting insights about the creative sector, her success story as well as being a female graphic designer in a male dominated industry.
Below is an exclusive interview of Karen with Fairafric:
1. Could you tell us when and how did you get into this profession.
Karen: I’ve always been interested in Art since childhood. I simply loved drawing and making crafts. I decided to develop my skills by studying Visual Arts in High School which ultimately led to my pursuing Communication Design in the University.
2. Why did you choose this creative path?
I love what I do and it’s fulfilling to be able to express myself through design. I believe that we all need to be passionate about what we do and work hard to be successful.
3. Could you tell us about the difficulties you deal with in this industry
There is the general mindset of art being ´easy ‘and for students who did not have good grades, leading to having my job disrespected by clients who think it’s easy, disregarding all my years of study and experience. Then there are the clients who are indecisive and feel they know my job better than I do, who also want the best but are unwilling to pay. Meeting crazy deadlines and having to deal with external factors beyond my control.
4. What does it mean to be a female designer in Ghana?
It’s a male-dominated field and women are sometimes considered too delicate for jobs that sometimes require working around the clock or pulling all-nighters to complete tasks. People are skeptical till they see your work. I would say that, being a female designer means, you have a love, passion for and are interested in what you do.
5. Where do you draw inspiration from (for your works/designs)?
I draw inspirations from a variety of sources depending on the project I’m working on. They include the internet (design inspiration sites like Behance and Pinterest), Ghanaian culture and simply by observing nature and objects.
6. What excites you about your creative career?
I like that it’s versatile and I’m able to freely create anything I want to just by trying my hands at it. I challenge myself a lot and I’m constantly learning and growing every day.
7. Any advice for young females who aspire pursuing a career in the creative design industry?
First, follow your passion and your heart. Once you love to do something, you wouldn’t struggle to do it because it comes easily and naturally. When you’re able to that, you can accomplish your goals.