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Q&A: Paul Sika, Cote d’Ivoire

Fashion and advertising photographer, artist and creative director Paul Sika was featured in the 2007 summer edition of Olympus User Magazine UK. For this vibrant series, Sika created the environments using actors and carefully staged sets to convey a powerful social narrative.

What was the creative rationale behind the use of such overwhelmingly saturated colors in your African series?
‘The colors are not specific to the African series. I happened to be in Cote d’Ivoire, where I’m based at the moment, after my stay in London for my studies in software engineering, and the colors and the way I use them allow the doors of imagination to be opened.

‘I don’t like art that can only be understood by “experts”. I don’t find that type of art interesting enough. My vision is that art should be for everyone who can perceive it, giving them the opportunity to enjoy it. A kid can enjoy my art, and those that are more advanced can derive a deeper meaning out of it. All that is based on the state of mind of the observer’.

How far do you go in planning shoots beforehand and what is left to chance?
‘Usually, I let the idea form in my mind as an embryo. In my mind, over a varying period of time, it will develop until it is ready to be delivered onto paper. Deliver it too quickly — when it is not mature enough — and you blow up the idea. I first jot it down as a script, through a mix of words, drawings and symbols that everybody can understand after deciphering my bad handwriting.

There is no chance. There is just how much you understand and how well you interact with your Creative Force’.

Can you tell us about how you chose the subjects for the series and how easy or difficult the shooting process was?
‘Some of series’ were commissions, and others were personal. For the commissions, I am generally asked to go from a brief. For the personal projects, I have more freedom. Whenever I am awake, ideas just start to pop up and I observe them until one of them makes my heart tick. That is the stamp of approval. I add other ideas onto this idea, making the original concept richer. When it reaches maturity, I carry it out’.

Can you talk about some of the commissions you have received due to this work? Is it mainly advertising or do you get a lot of fashion and editorial work as well?
‘It used to be mainly advertising, but I am starting to get more fashion than I used to. The fashion designers who are aware of my work are willing to try the exuberant style I produce. Several brands are now showing interest in my work, including Jamhuri Wear, Elway and Kohra’.

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