This Melbourne-based artist Akid tells his stories through the painstaking medium of woodblock carving. By hand, he chisels his social, political and global musings into blocks of plywood - in a mirror image we might add. The result - a limited edition of raw, powerful works of art printed from the original wood block. But - Akid's creative work goes far past his woodblock printing — he's also a creative director of a record label and finds himself designing album covers and stages for music festivals.
Akid incorporates social and political themes in his works, and you'll often see references to global ideas in his art. His woodblock print NAFS pulls from an Islamic philosophy meaning self or soul — the two figures in his piece are searching for a homeland, a place to call their own — and he relates this to how many of us are feeling in this state of the world.
We're so excited to introduce you to him and bring his meaningful works into your homes.
Continue on for our interview with Danny, and shop his works below.
No longer can you simply ask the question “what do you do” for a living? Most people wear many hats! What hats do you wear?
That's true, I think creative types today more than ever need to be fluid and adaptive to the increasingly unpredictable world we live in. I am currently working as the Creative Director of Mandarin Dreams, a record label I founded in 2016 which has since branched into event curation, stage designing and visual merchandising. The projects I work on can vary greatly; one day I might be designing an album cover for an upcoming release the next curating the stage design for a music festival. I try to strike a balance between "work mode” and studio time, the later being geared towards experimentation and expression than a final product. I am by no means a natural multi-tasker so the constant juggling and looming deadlines can get quite chaotic and stressful!
Can you tell us a bit about your path? How did you discover art and decide to pursue it?
Art and design have always played a vital role throughout my life, however, it was while studying architecture that I began to understand the role design plays in defining the lives of everyone living in an urban environment. Even those who have no interest in design might drive a car to work on a freeway to get to their city office. All these things have all been meticulously designed by someone and shapes the lives we live. Firstly, I want to use art as a way to address social issues, and hope to use design as a way to create small scale solutions to these problems.
How would you describe your work?
The subject matter of my art focuses on the relationship of nature, industry, and technology and how these things affect my own identity. My depiction of social and political ideas are not so much statements but as a mirror reflecting back onto society.
Tell us about the media you work in.
I work primarily with woodblock printing. I have been developing my skills for the past 10 years. I use plywood due to it being a robust and expressive media. Woodblock has a long history with social movements, as plywood is readily available and an easy way to reproduce media like palettes and posters. The impression you get from wood carving is very bold and textured, giving this raw feeling to the artwork. Given that it can take a few days to crave a piece out, it's a process that requires time and focus which I find very therapeutic. Sometimes it feels almost as much of the wood speaking as it is the artist.
What do you do to keep creative?
I find creative inspiration in my surroundings, whether that be through the music I am listening to, conversations I am having with friends or flicking through art and design books. I also try to keep challenging myself by learning something new. I think this is an important part of creativity. In our society adults aren’t really encouraged to learn new crafts or trades —you’re expected to be “good” at what you’re doing. I say sing out of key, draw kid-like doodles, sew your own clothes, and even if you never get good at those things you might just learn something new about yourself.
Can you tell us a bit about NAFS? What inspired the piece and what meaning does it hold?
The piece itself was commissioned by a musician from Pakistan (JAUBI). Nafs is an Islamic philosophy which can be translated to either self or soul. The two figures are searching for a homeland, a place to call their own and I think that is intrinsically true for a lot of people in the current state of the world.
Can you share a bit about your process? What sparks a work and where do you turn for creative inspiration?
I try to pull ideas from what's going on around me in a global context. My works generally try to plug into the zeitgeist of what people are feeling and talking about. These ideas don’t necessarily have to be current as I find historical ideas can have a relevancy to now. My work is also inspired by my studies of Peruvian pre-Hispanic cultures like the Chimu, Incas and Moche.
What are your Barnaby Lane picks?
I am fortunate enough to have the Tanner armchair in black in my lounge at the moment which I love.
Can you give us 5 words to describe you?
Maker, Resourceful, Dreamer, Generalist, Idealistic