Papa Oppong: the young, talented, fashion illustrator and designer from Ghana

Pappa Oppong IllustrationsWhen a fashion designer is talented in such a way that will make you want to wear whatever that designer draws, you know are at the right place. Papa Oppong, who I consider as fabulous designer, is a 21-year old fashion designer and illustrator from Ghana. He bombards Instagram with beautiful graphics from the likes of Kelly Rowland and Rihanna, of which Kelly Rowland retweeted and Rihanna faved on Instagram. I think he is yet to captivate the world with his art. Yes the world!  I discovered him on Instagram and I just had to show you what this designer is all about. Fine Art is on display! Not to mention, he has one of the most down to earth and humble personalities I have met so far. Discover with me the brain behind the art. 

Who is Papa Oppong?

Papa Oppong

Papa Oppong

Papa Oppong Bediako, fashion & design student at the Radford University college, East Legon, Ghana, is born and raised in Dansoman Accra, Ghana. He has two brothers and one sister. Drawing came about for Papa Oppong when he was young. As a younger boy he drew on his school books, desks and school walls, which he would most of the time get in trouble for. “People would come to me for me to draw them and now that I am older, I hear my family members saying that I used to like watching runway shows. Plus in my primary school days, I always had my own opinion about my look when my mother put clothes on me. Nowadays, I give my mum clothing advice and  I even have a strong opinion on what she wears.”

Papa Oppong further developed his taste in fashion in junior high school. He started his course in Visual Arts at Achimota School, where he studied textiles & literature. “At that point we had to choose between jewelry and textiles. My best friend and I wanted to start something. She was learning to sew somewhere and we were like: let’s start a clothing line. We discovered the hard work that comes along with it. In my second year I got a sketchbook, which allowed me to keep my work. And most of the time, I received positive feedback on my sketches.”

Papa Oppong woring on his shoot for his 'Mock' collection

An African doing fashion

“Junior high was hell. There were various crowds and there was the cool-kids -crowd. I was in no crowd. Others would try to make my life hell and ask me: why am I drawing fashion items? After SHS (Senior High school) in 2011, I told my dad: I wanted to do fashion. Everyone of my family was against it. But I will rather follow the job that I want to do plus I don’t see myself sitting behind the desk and doing a 9-5 job in the future. At first my parents weren’t supportive, but now they are noticing my drive. They are not 100 percent behind it, but they understand this drive that I have.”

A Papa Oppong illustration of Rihanna

A Papa Oppong illustration of Rihanna

ABINA: “I couldn’t help but to notice all kinds of drawings of Rihanna on your Instagram, what’s up with the Rihanna-love?”

“I love Rihanna as a fashion icon. She is always reinventing herself and she is fearless. Fearless people are those who I like to target, because they help to push out trends. Anna Dello Russo, Lana Del Rey and Lady Gaga are also fearless people. I love Beyoncé just as much.”

Papa Oppong collection

“In 2011, in my second year I decided to give myself a little project to test the Ghanaian market, so I started to save my money to create a so called mock collection. I don’t see the use of going to Europe to start up a collection. My ‘mock’ collection was a fall/winter collection, which I was taking a risk with. I created heavy coats and jackets, which are not Ghana-weather-friendly. I wanted people to ask questions as to why I created a winter/fall collection and I wanted to focus also on Africans abroad. Most Ghanaian designers don’t design ‘heavy’ clothing.  My school graduate show was my platform to showcase my ‘mock’ collection, of which I opened the show. At the end of the event, a Ghanaian who resides in America showed a keen interest in my collection and loved the fact that I showcased a fall/winter collection. That’s what I want: to create something for the winter from Ghanaian soil. This opens a whole new market.  Pappa Oppong will eventually be the name of my collection“

About African fashion in general

“African fashion is not stagnant. Yet the African fashion scene is a slow process. The thing with Africa is that there isn’t too much room for designers to showcase their work. Most of the time, working in fashion means that you are working behind a sewing machine and produce styles that have been designed already. We are not thinking about clothes as much as we think of food and water, like they do in Europe. There is rather a small group here who consider fashion designers specifically.”

Papa Oppong and Vlisco

“I have always been a fan of Vlisco. At a specific moment, I felt bored during the day. I thought to myself: why don’t I just use Vlisco fabrics in my sketches. So eventually I did that. I tweeted Vlisco about using their fabric in my sketches and they loved my sketches. They featured one of my sketches on their Facebook page.”

Papa Oppong Vlisco

A Papa Oppong illustration with Vlisco prints

Papa Oppong and a fashion Icon

“If I were to name a dead fashion icon to design for, it would be Audrey Hepburn. She held an effortless class. If I were to mention an alive fashion icon, it would be Beyoncé or Michelle Obama.”

ABINA: Thank you

After having some interruptions from lights off and the internet connection going on and off, I had a good talk with Papa Oppong. It’s is great to see talent from our own soil receiving international recognition.

Get inspiration and follow Papa Oppong on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CHAI! When ABINA’s castle is running and ready, I will get me a Papa Oppong illustration! Watch more of his fantastic work in the gallery below.

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