Self-Observation with Ken Roko
Written by: Kwesi Adjin All Images courtesy of Ken Roko

Ken Roko does not waste words.  Our interview with this prolific artist was brief but still very illuminating. Ken uses art as a way of observing his own growth and maturity.  Ken believes art is the best mirror because it reveals inner emotions and natural progression in a subtle and nonjudgmental manner.  Ken describes himself as “somber” and although his images have a misty nostalgia to them, they also possess a certain beauty that seduces the imagination and honors life and living.  Ken Roko’s art is sure to attract a wide audience and there is no wonder why his prints are in strong demand.  All Style.No.Chaser can say to Ken is “keep being somber if your somberness means we get to see more of your unmistakable and brilliant art”.

“People tend to have certain expectations or images for themselves and often …”

Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I grew up in Southern Ontario region as a plain very normal, quiet and self-reserved child. I loved to watch lots of Anime and play video games. Currently I live and work in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What does your art mean to you?
Art is a window that I can observe myself thoroughly through. People tend to have certain expectations or images for themselves and often try to project or live up to what they’ve created in their thoughts. To me, every time I re-visit the pieces that I created, it actually helps me understand myself better.

Your art is really nostalgic and your posters present very ethereal views of cityscapes, animals and nature – how do you describe your style of art, what tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal style?

I graduated from a Classical-Animation program initially and continued to study in a 3D Visual Art program.  Since then, I have explored various styles and colors from different generations of artists.  I enjoy working with traditional media, but recently found myself often working with both traditional and digital resources.

If you could use two words to describe yourself, what would those two words be?
Somber and Blue

How do you balance the creativity of your art and the commercial aspects of making a living?
I’m still working as a digital artist in the entertainment industry. All the pieces that I have produced as a fine artist are very different from what I’m doing to make a living.  I see a very mutually beneficial relationship between the work I’m doing and the work I’m producing for myself. It exposes me to the different colors and art styles.

What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
I don’t really encounter many critics. Since art is very subjective and everyone is entitled to have his/her own opinions, as long as they can answer “why I like it or why I hate it” (whether it’s a criticism or a compliment), I’m one happy clam. Also I’ve worked in the studio environment for some time now, so constant feedback or criticism is a part of work process.

Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I’m not a metrosexual myself. I usually style myself with black and white kind of muted colors.

What is your personal life philosophy?
Carpe Diem. Seize the Day.

When was your most recent art epiphany and what was it about?
I usually get epiphanies spending time at used bookstores or public libraries. Recently, I have taken an interest in Russian socialist realism paintings – the colors and style really fascinate me and get my creative juices flowing.

Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Michaelangelo. It would be very nice to witness firsthand how the master actually produced his masterpieces

How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
Tumblr would be the best place to find my new work.

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