Interview with Nils Kwesi Britwum | an amazing Ghanean Illustrator

FRENCH – J’ai eu l’immense plaisir de partager un bout d’histoire avec un jeune illustrateur autodidacte ghanéen. Nils Kwesi Britwum a à peine 25 ans et pourtant, il a déjà une vision si concrète de ce que peut véhiculer au travers d’une simple image. Comme un poète prendrait sa plume pour partager sa vision de la vie, Nils Britwum plonge ses émotions sur un clavier. Croyez-le ou non mais, c’est sur youtube qu’il apprend à réaliser ses dessins et qu’il peaufine la technique d’illustration digital. Il illustre des hommes, des enfants, des couples mais surtout des femmes. Des femmes noires, majestueuses, fun, intelligentes bref, des femmes de tous les jours dans un cadre positif et ludique !

J’étais tombée par hasard sur une de ses incroyables illustrations (qui n’était pas signée) et j’ai travaillé d’arrache-pied afin de retrouver l’auteur.

ENGLISH – I had the immense pleasure of sharing a piece of  a young self-taught Ghanaian illustrator’s story. Nils Kwesi Britwum is barely 25 years old and yet he already has such a concrete vision of what can be conveyed through a simple image. As a poet takes his pen to share his vision of life, Nils Britwum plunges his emotions on a drawing keyboard. Believe it or not, this autodidact learned all on YouTube : how to make his drawings and refines the technique of digital illustration etc… He illustrates men, children, couples but especially women. Black women, majestic, fine, intelligent… in short, everyday woman in a positive and fun way! I stumbled upon one of his incredible illustrations (which was not signes) and worked hard to find the author on the gram. That is how I discovered him.

J’avais vu passer cette illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum sur instagram. Pas vous ?


FRENCH – Quelques semaines et échanges plus tard, voilà ce que Nils Britwum nous confie au travers d’un interview très profonde. Malheureusement, je ne peux que parler de ce qu’il souhaite garder publique mais, suis sincèrement touchée par sa disponibilité, sa sensibilité et surtout, sa volonté de représenter notre communauté au travers d’un si bel art.

Comme vous savez que je ne vais pas vous mâcher le travail et retranscrire l’échange en français, j’invite donc les bilingues à continuer la lecture (courte et intéressante). Quant aux autres, le google traducteur est très bien fait.

ENGLISH – A few weeks and exchanges later, this is what Nils Britwum tells us through a very deep interview. I will only share what he wants to make public but, I am sincerely touched by his availability, his sensitivity and above all, his will to represent our community through such a beautiful art. As you know, I am not going to chew the work for you and transcribe the exchange in French, I invite the bilinguals to continue reading (short and interesting). As for the others, the google translator is very well made and usefull.

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum

#gallery-11 { margin: auto; } #gallery-11 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-11 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-11 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

VANESSA  : Can you introduce yourself ?

N.K.B : My name is Nils Kwesi Britwum, age 25, and I’m a depressed artist from Accra, Ghana (just kidding leave the « depressed out lol)

VANESSA : Ahaha When did you start drawing ? Has it always being a passion ?

N.K.B : I honestly can’t remember when i started drawing, i think it was when i was about 6 or 7… Where i guess everyone started drawing, the stick figures and the yellow sun in the corner with a crayon…

VANESSA : Yes, everyone draws at that age but no one makes it a whole passion out of it. What made want to draw more and what inspired you to draw only women especially black woman.

N.K.B : Lol … Im passionate about drawing black (especially dark skinned) women because i felt the need to empower them to feel confident about themselves and their Color in a world of constant racism and bullying.

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : It’s really what I loved about your drawings. We don’t see that often on the web so each time I’m seeing nice representation of black woman, it makes me feel part of something much stronger and tangible. Representation matters. Did you take classes to draw ? Who is your inspiration.

N.K.B : Lol thanks (the real reason i started drawing is there tho lol) thanks for appreciating my work … I didn’t take classes, however I’m inspired by beautiful looking people (often without makeup up … Not that i have anything against make up tho but to study raw beauty i think it has be done without anything on the face) ..

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : I see.. Well, do you live by your art or do you do something else ? We don’t actually really know the Nils behind his drawings, do you stay anonymous (even physically I’ve search haha) for a reason ?

N.K.B : I work for a company in which i am a creative director… The reason you don’t know who is behind the artworks is because now I’m confused if to show myself or not because people think I’m a black woman now and like to relate with my artworks on that level… I feel like if i showed myself to them they will be disappointed I’m not like them lol.

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : So are you a white man ? Maybe mixte ? I was convinced your were a black woman as well .. 

N.K.B : Hahaha… No I’m not a white man .. I’m black …

VANESSA : Even beeter ! Have you thought about doing more of your drawings like agenda ? Notebook, phone case, pencils etc.. I think I’d work !

N.K.B : Honestly, thousands of people have asked but i don’t know how to go about it because I’m in Ghana and most of them are in America (and around the world)…. #gallery-12 { margin: auto; } #gallery-12 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 25%; } #gallery-12 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-12 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

VANESSA : Gosh.. I can feel the frustration. Hopefully the’re be a solution Do you have books or comics with your illustrations ?

N.K.B : I have comics you have seen but i haven’t done any books yet … I’m not doing the things you think i should do because of an exclusivity agreement.

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : I really love the positivity you portray of black family, fatherhood sometimes, motherhood and obviously woman self confidence. Do you receive some backlash on your work sometimes for your modern way of expressing strong and independent woman ?

N.K.B : Not exactly … The only time iv got the backlash is doing this horoscope now … Some Christians think it’s demonic but besides that i haven’t really had any one talk bad about the artworks …

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : Who is your favorite drawer ? And why

N.K.B : Aaron Blaise … because he is able to make just anything look cute…

Aaron Blaise


Aaron Blaise


VANESSA : What is your favorite drawing (on your own work) ?

N.K.B : The baby crawling …No… My favourite is rather the baby with the hands in the pot … Its because on the magazine by the baby on the picture i have written how i feel everyday but backwards… When you look at the picture, there is a magazine on the floor in front of the pot… The writing on the magazine … If you read that backwards, that’s how i feel everyday.

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum


VANESSA : Well, we are coming to the end of the interview. It was truly a pleasure to know your work. I only have 1 last question and I ask it to everyone : What did I did not asked that you would like to let us know ?

N.K.B : I don’t have a good question in mind … Lol

VANESSA : Ps : you should draw an African super hero ahaha

N.K.B : Yeh i like stuff like that… ill try that soon ….

illustration de Nils Kwesi Britwum

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HOW IT BEGAN ?

I had no plan! Here is my truth. Didn’t hire a storyteller and will not lie so here I am! An avid life lover, who traveled enough to feed her creativity. The glamorous, the nomad, the retro, the clean and opulence… I’ve seen and loved them all. Life is too short to have rules and structures when it comes to art.. “You have to choose what your brand should look like”- they said… I want my brand to be felt… Fragments of emotions captured on textiles that’s all: MVSE.

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