We're very pleased to introduce portrait artist, Joshua Donkor to Illo Agency!

We're very pleased to introduce Joshua Donkor to Illo Agency!  Joshua specializes in portraiture work, using oil paints. You might have seen the piece he produced for BBC’s “Staged”, painting the landscape which Michael Sheen compares to David Tenant’s pineapple sketch!

He’s very keen to develop his commercial portfolio with us, and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying; is like-minded in terms of the values Illo Agency holds close to our heart.  I hope you agree that his work really is something to marvel at.  Here's a little more info below...

When did you start illustrating?

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a little kid really. I often copied images from my favourite story books like the Story Giant, Willy the Wimp and many other wonderful Anthony Browne books.

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps yourteacher, family, friends?

My parents and wider family have been incredibly supportive of me and my artwork. Often a lot of the work I make involves them in some way whether it be telling their stories or using them as references for imagined scenes. My Illustration tutors have also been crucial for the development of my work and the opportunities I have been fortunate to have.

Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?

Yes, it’s always been a crucial part of my life since I was very young. I didn’t always know if I would make a career from it but I knew that I would always be making art regardless of what I ended up doing.

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

My favourite subjects to paint and draw are probably people. I have always been drawn to portraits because of the emotions they can capture and the stories they can tell. I love the challenge of trying to translate a person’s essence and experiences through different mediums.

How would you describe your style?

I think the best way to describe my style is visual narration, the work I make is designed to illustrate personal experiences and emotions with imagery. I tend to use a range of quite traditional mediums such as oil paints, a lot of my work is influenced by both classical and contemporary figurative painters from the likes of Georges de La Tour to Kehinde Wiley and Njideka Akunyili Crosby.

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

My favourite collaboration so far is probably a painting I made for the BBC production “Staged” in 2020. It was one of my first professional projects and creating customised imagery for tv and movie productions is an avenue I am interested in. So to see one of my paintings being held up by Michael Sheen as part of a skit was extremely exciting and a bit surreal!

What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?

The thing that made Illo so exciting to me was their emphasis on creating social change and celebrating diversity through Illustration. This is at the core of my practice and the work that I aim to make. Creating artwork that has a purpose and that can challenge people’s preconceptions and present different perspectives is something that I feel is crucial. This is something that seems crucial to Illo as well, so I just felt that they were the perfect Agency to work with.

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

One of my favourite authors is Teju Cole, “Every Day Is For The Thief” is one of the best books I have read and played an important role in some of my work. Anthony Browne is always one of my favourites as well, his books are beautiful.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

I’m currently working on a project called “Ancestral Foundations”. This project aims to explore the impact that African ancestry plays on individuals sense of identity, especially for those growing up in countries with a history of colonialism and prejudice. This work will consist of a series of recorded interviews/conversations. These will be accompanied by dual portraits of each participant as a means of narrating the conversations and the stories of their ancestral roots and how these personal family histories have influenced their lives.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

I don’t really listen to podcasts but I listen to lots and lots of music! Some of my favourite artists are Still Woozy, SZA, Interpol, Anderson Paak, Florence and the Machine, Glass Animals J.Cole and The Beatles. A pretty random mixture!

If you have any questions, or a specific project in mind, please do get in touch: [email protected]

at illo agency we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.