Introducing: Derrick Okanta

April 22, 2022
Derrick Okanta in his studio. @okantaart7 ©
Derrick Okanta in his studio. @okantaart7 ©

At The CAMP, we're not just interested in the the business of art. Sure, there's a wonderful feeling when we make a sale because it encourages the artists we work with and validates our dreams of growing into the platform we know we're meant to be, but it's bigger than that. What we're interested in is art—full stop. The CAMP revolves around a serious love for artistic expression and along with that comes serious people who are just as beautiful as their creation. If there's one thing about us, all of us, it's that we're not like other platforms—we're a community.


In Introducing, we get to know CAMP artists in their own words and learn about the journeys, influences, and memories underlining their works.






Born, raised, and based in Accra, Ghana, Derrick Okanta is a mixed-media artist whose integration of graphic design principles and keen social observations underpin his unabashed approach to artistic expression. His reverence for Ghanaian cultural values and aesthetics is most notable in his incorporating of traditional fabrics and textures into his paintings, breathing life in to candid, yet tender reflections of his environs that beg the question of reinforcing a shared humanity, rather than a mere sympathizing with an Other. Okanta’s latest series, New Generation, tackles the artist’s observation of street children in Ghana who don’t have access to schooling on financial bases, presenting portraits muted in color, but bursting with raw sentimentality.


Okanta’s addition to the CAMP roster is an affirming of what we consider to be an artist who makes art because he wants to—and because he wants to, he can. His assemblage of influence, research, and art for the sake of it are right at home.




When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I realized this when I was in my primary school. I was really good in drawing, so I was given the position of doing all the diagrams when it was time for Technical Drawing and other subjects which had pictures or illustrations


What pressure do you feel as an artist?

 I don’t really feel any pressure being an artist, because I have the passion and interest in what I do. Being an artist, to me, is a dream come true and I feel great [being one.] My concern is the ready market for the works I produce.



What are you saying with your art?

My works talks about our daily life, and also things that goes on in our community and the world at large.




Afro Look, 2022. Mixed media on canvas. 30 x 24 in.



What is it like in your studio?

Wow, I don’t know how to express this kind of feeling, but I really feel great anytime I find myself in the studio working, because that is the time I can be myself, communicate with my canvas through the use of paints, brushes, and pieces of African cloth.


Why do you create the art that you do?

As an artist, I always want people around me to feel the kind of happiness, joy, and sadness within me. My paintings serve as a therapy. The moment you connect with it, they are some kind of feelings you get. Lastly, my paintings seek to promote Ghana and Africa at large, and create awareness of what is going on around us.



Who inspires you? And why?

Many people inspire me through the success they have achieved, the art materials they gift me with, and the words of motivation all give me that energy to work hard—that all inspires me.




For the Soul, 2022. Mixed media on canvas. 30 x 24 in.






Tell us about a pivotal moment for you and your career as an artist.
My pivotal moment started after my four years in college. It was a very hard at that time for me to be able to purchase quality art materials to work with. In my three years in college, I [went] through all the courses and finalize on one in my final year.  Fast-forwarding, I decided to go into graphic designing to be able to support myself and my career as an artist. 


Note: whatever you want to achieve in life, you have to be determined, devote yourself, and work hard.



How are you adapting to a socially distant world?

We are in a different place than before. In this socially distant world, I’m taking more advantage of social media platforms to introduce my new bodies of works to the world.



Outside of your art, what is something that you are most proud of?
 I’m really proud to be able to establish myself as a graphic designer, which earns me money to support my career as an artist throughout my hard times, and God been so good. I have been able to purchase some quality art materials to work with, and got married through that. I’m really proud of myself.



What do you do in your day when not creating?

I really love playing football, swimming and listening to music.



Lastly: tell us a story, anything, that lets readers know who you are—the person.

I am a very free and happy person to hang around with, someone who loves to explore his surroundings and other places if he get the chance. Lastly, I love God and my family because they inspire me to do more.

About the author

Maria Di Giammarco

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