This project was very personal to me and I filled it with Easter eggs. Paka means 'cat' in Swahili and Mtoto means 'boy'. I wanted to create a some kind of narrative behind this graphic between these two characters and create a lot of symbolism. I chose Swahili names because all of the characters from The Lion King, one of my favorite movies, have Swahili names.
This was one of my first major vector projects so I wanted to make sure that my sketch (base layer) was solid and well detailed.
The PAKA board represents Africa and the strength of its people through a panther. The other half of this project, Mtoto, represents the descendants of Africans that were torn away from their continent, country, and culture and brought into slavery many years ago. The project, all-together, is a picture of how many black people long to learn about their history and roots, but cannot due to slavery's disruption of our history and lineage.
The symbols in the background are West-African Adinkra. They each have their own unique name and meaning and represent the knowledge that Mtoto is looking for. The golden circle that they reside in represent the hope that Mtoto has for connecting to his past and Paka. For the most part, I tried to keep this project rooted in West African lore.
Two other themes I included in this project where royalty and spirituality. Both Paka and Mtoto have a glowing crown tattoo that connects them in both body and spirit. The crown is inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of my favorite artist. Their hair/fur is purple to represent royalty as well. The Zebra stripes in the background represent the spirits of the ancestors and how they remain with Mtoto to help and guide him. Zebra's are also my mother's favorite animal :)
I gave Mtoto a Dashiki that secretly contains the Guyanese flag. My parents are from Guyana but where originally taken (most likely) from Ghana, where the flag is also green, yellow, and red.
Ultimately, I wanted this project to inspire people to learn about their past and to bring something more African culture into the skateboarding arena. I originally released this during black history month
8.25in x 32.25in | 7-Ply 100% Canadian Maple Decks | High-Resolution Graphic
You can find both boards available for sale HERE