For some context, it’s not that he wasn’t creative in the past. In fact, he has always had it in him, but it took a competition organised by Malta Guinness to help shed away his timidity and bring out the best in him.
As part of its 30th anniversary, Malta Guinness wanted a unique label to mark the occasion and so invited all interested graphic designers to get involved in the competition.
The ultimate idea was to find one person who could design a uniquely Ghanaian-identified label that encapsulates all that the Malta Guinness brand stands for.
The competition was eventually won by Charles Okyere-Afoakwah Jnr, but it also uplifted the other competitors to levels they’ve never dreamed of, one of whom is Joshua.
He impressively finished third in the competition but the story behind his journey is as interesting as Henry Ward Beecher’s quote (Refer to the opening paragraph, if you’ve forgotten).
“I’ve always been passionate about what influences people to buy products and service,” says Joshua, who currently runs an Accra-based company called VOME (Voice Of My Eyes).
“That passion has led me to start a design and production agency that focuses on connecting business owners to the right audiences in unique, direct and personalised ways.”
At the forefront of VOME’s goals is to build powerful voices with brands with “big hearts”. And as a man of many talents – Joshua is involved in design, photography and film – the competition from Malta Guinness provided the perfect platform.
So the Radford University graduate set out to test his mettle against other designers from across the country. He ended up producing a masterpiece that caught the eyes of the judges and even his fellow competitors.
“My project with Malta Guinness was about culture, heritage and remembering where we came from. The central theme was greatness which I called “Okokroko”.
“The entire piece was hand-drawn because I believe as Africans, our design style was more organic than geometric and more abstract than realistic. It told the story of the barley seed and how it was the central piece of a civilisation’s greatness,” Joshua noted.
Since working with a global brand like Malta Guinness and finishing third in their unique 30th-anniversary label competition, Joshua says the response he’s gotten has been effusive.
Not only has he enriched his résumé as a creative, but he has also gone on to get a few gigs after participating in the competition.
“Personally my biggest shock was the sheer number of ‘his’ and ‘hellos’ I received on a daily basis, which was pretty satisfying – being popular must be nice,” he reveled.
“But I’ve added a strong presence to my portfolio and even got the chance to work with two of the producers of the show I was participating in. It has been great.”
As a young creative, Joshua believes the industry can thrive if the necessary investment is made. In his view, there are many talented designers who are only lacking the funds to take their craft to the next level.
“My biggest issue now is access to funds. Most people in my shoes are most likely entrepreneurs. Trying to secure some type of funding or loans to buy equipment or even scale up your business is too difficult and cumbersome,” he admits.
“It would be nice for a financial institution to have packages for small business like these and even some level of solo-prenuership.
“Secondly insurance companies should also look into helping us insure our equipment. I know it’s done in other countries where photographers and filmmakers insure their equipment, I hope for a future where that would be possible in Ghana.”
Joshua believes massive investment in the art industry would have a positive influence on Ghana socially, economically and politically.
He sees art as being more valuable in the future if the works of artists are protected and groomed, just like it’s done in countries like France, Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Socially, he also believes art can help bridge the gap between classes and even settle disputes. “The use of art is endless, therefore any community that values its artists and their creations, values human.
“For a country to grow well it highly depends on the quality of life of its citizens. As therapeutic as Art can be its storytelling prowess really does create a solid foundation for relevant conversations and discussion,” Joshua adds.
On the political side, he maintains that “art and politics have always been on two sides of the spectrum – from powerful protests against governments to fighting for basic rights. Art has the power to overthrow and expose any Government. It’s truth and it’s the voice of the citizens.”
There are more artists and graphic designers in Ghana now than ever. More and more of the youth are gradually finding their feet in the industry.
Joshua’s advice to everyone building a career as a creative is to just keep going and never look back.
“I would say just do it. Jump off the cliff and build your wings on your way down, you will be surprised what you can accomplish if you decide to go all out for it.”
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