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Meet Chinwe Okona in South Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chinwe Okona.

Chinwe, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always loved books, magazines, and newspapers, I am especially interested in the way that validity is granted to information transmitted via these mediums. In this way I found my way to art through academia and intellect — at some point, I became interested in making books (in addition to reading them) and challenged myself to demand validity of my lived experience through different forms of abstract bookmaking. In addition to working with paper and thread, I also incorporate photography, as well as long-form journalism into my art practice.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Time has always been and continues to be a struggle. I feel very lucky to have landed in a creative career path, but I think part of being an artist is accepting that you may never make enough money to sustain your existence from your art alone. This isn’t to say that art comes second or isn’t integral to my survival in ways that can’t be attributed to a dollar value, but in order to have time and space to make work sometimes, you have to get creative. This is in addition to affording time for family, friends, rest. etc. I’m not afraid of running out of time, but I’m very cognizant of how managing it is quintessential to my existence.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chinwe Okona – what should we know?
In addition to bookbinding and photography, I create a publication called Palmss Magazine. Palmss exists to shed light on the thoughts and art practices of creative people of color. The first two issues were comprised of interviews with artists based in Los Angeles and Chicago; I’m currently working on the third issue and the whole creative direction is getting a bit of an overhaul. I’m really proud to be a part of the current wave of publications profiling the lived experiences of folks of colors and am excited to host a platform that amplifies the voices of people I admire.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Undoubtedly, organization and time management. I try to hold myself to a 24-hour rule for all communications and maximize the number of hours in a day by always scheduling a time/place for meetings ahead of schedule, so I can account for travel time, etc. More often than not, my calendar lives very comfortably in my head, but every blue moon when things are absolutely crazy, I’ll use the Calendar app on my phone.

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Image Credit:

Kort Havens, Sheewa Salehi

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