Africa by Mario Hounkanrin

Day 10 — Poster posted on February 9, 2023

Mario Hounkanrin

Located: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tell us about yourself:

I was born in Cotonou, Benin. I grew up in Paris, France. I’m now living in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with my fiancee Caroline and our daughters Imani and Uma.

I’m a freelance graphic designer and I work for agencies and small businesses. The rest of the time, I do some illustration work and painting for myself as I try to do bring more art into my work.

What is the inspiration behind your poster design?

Well, the given word and color were the base of my inspiration: Africa and Black. I’m actually very focused on Africa in my art. So, for me, it was a blessing. In my opinion, African cultures and beliefs have wrongly been dismissed as primitive (in the sense of unevolved) for too long and in my practice, I try to show how they are actually inspiring and rich.

Why do you love being creative?

Creativity is in everybody. I’ve been lucky enough to make it a living and mostly do what I like to do. Anyone would be happy to have that!

Tell us about your experiences in the design world…

Ha ha! That’s a good one. It’s sad to say, but in all my career, I never met another black designer. One day, after I drew an asian character for a project, my client client told me she was too “oriental”… Another project, another client, I drew a brown lawyer, I’ve been said “he’s too brown”. If client dare to ask me this kind of things even though I’m a minority, I don’t want to hear what they tell to the vast majority of caucasian designers… Maybe they don’t have to actually… I don’t know.

How can we create a more inclusive design world and ensure that Black people are represented?

It’s a very tricky question. Maybe by showcasing more designers of different origins so kids can see everybody can access these kind of work, that it’s not only for people that don’t look like them. And with a more black and brown designers, representation in the work itself will evolve I think.

In general… How can we make more equity or equality for us?

I don’t know… In my opinion, for black people in the whole world, we’ll never have equality until Africa gain its sovereignty back. Then, the world will have more respect for people of African descent. If that doesn’t happen, we will always march and fight for more equity. Freedom is taken not given. Our ancestors showed us. The cure lies in the roots.

How do we do that? By looking back to Africa, erase what the West has been telling us all the time and claim back our History. Be proud again, not only about our skin color, but about our cultures, our ancestral beliefs. Support people who are changing things in Africa, not western NGOs, but actual associations of people.

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