S1E6: Self-Taught Mastery feat. Damola Akintunde

Episode six features photographer Damola Akintunde, a freelance photographer based in North Carolina. Damola has created several photographic projects and collaborated with Adidas and Elle South Africa during a recent trip to Cape Town.

Damola was first introduced to the field of photography in a 7th grade yearbook class, and since then she has cultivated her talent independently to create a body of work that is breathtaking and moving. Her portraits of women and herself draw the viewer to see beauty in a new light, and it’s part of the mission of her platform the Authentic We.

We talk with Damola about her inspirations, how she learned to shoot so well, how “art can be incorporated into so many different fields,” sharing your voice with the world, and why YouTube is so important.

As always, this episode features the following music: Aspire by Scott Holmes, and Purple Light by Blue Dot Sessions.

To learn more about Damola visit: https://www.damolaakintunde.com.

Listen to Episode 5 and read the full time-stamped transcript below or tune in on the following podcast platforms:

Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Podbean, PlayerFM and Blubrry.

Enjoy the episode and remember to Create & Connect!

Damola Akintunde

Damola Akintunde

Self-Taught Mastery

Wondering if you need formal training to master your art? Damola Akintunde discusses how she connects with subjects to create moving portraits, and how YouTube helped her find her stride.

Full Transcript

Narrator:                                 00:02                       Welcome to Meraki mentors, a podcast featuring women who create, we interview creatives from every field and around the globe to discuss art risk taking and what it means to live a creative life. Here's your host Candice Howze.

Candace:                                  00:20                       When you think about your favorite photographers, you may not have heard of the name Damola Akintunde, but that's all about to change. As someone who loves to take pictures and sharpen my eye, it makes me practically giddy when I stumble upon a new talent. Damola's work is everything you might strive to achieve in one photograph: Artistic, visionary, original, ethereal. Her images, particularly of black women, as well as her self-portraiture, are distinctly unique and in all their softness and humanity they demand your attention. Damola shares with us her path to photography, how she overcomes artistic blocks and self-doubt, and just how much you can learn from youtube. Let's have a listen.

Candace:                                  01:06                       Welcome everyone. I am so excited today. We have an amazing guest with us who is just a very talented photographer and I've really admired her work probably for the past year or so. So I'm really honored that we are speaking with Damola today and we're just gonna talk a little bit about, um, what you do as a photographer and how you got started and all that good stuff. So first and foremost, thank you for being with us today.

Damola:                                   01:36                       Thank you Candace for reaching out. I'm really excited to talk about a lot of fun stuff today. So this is great.

Candace:                                  01:45                       Awesome. So, um, I guess we can get started just for anyone who might be new to your work, just tell us a little bit about what you like to photograph and kind of what your work kind of looks like in the whole field to it.

Damola:                                   02:00                       So I consider myself, I guess generally a portrait photographer and that kind of encompasses like, I guess fashion photography, beauty, photography, fine art photography, to a certain extent. And a lot of my subjects are people of color, specifically black people. I tend to go that route mainly because, um, I use it as a form of looking at the self and looking at the experiences of people that are marginalized and you know, don't really have the voice or don't feel like they have the space to talk about their experiences. And I think photography is a great way as a form of visual storytelling to kind of express those experiences.

Candace:                                  02:46                       Absolutely. And I can definitely tell in all of your images it has a sense of kind of like care and intimacy, like understanding to it, you know, some people kind of, you see them take a picture and it's like, oh, that's a nice picture, but you don't feel like you understand the person or like the story. But I always have a deeper, a deeper sense feeling your work. Like "there's something more to that person." "They're very human," and it was just a lot of, um, a lot of care behind your work.

Damola:                                   03:13                       Thank you. That's definitely my intention is to make sure everything is purposeful and I'm not just taking a picture for the sake of it. There's always kind of that emotion feeling behind it so that people kind of get a better, deeper understanding of the subject.

Candace:                                  03:31                       Where would you say, as a photographer, what would be kind of key to make sure that you are articulating a person's story well and like the general essence, like what, what are some of the things that you do to make sure that that's coming across in your work?

Damola:                                   03:48                       Well, I actually studied psychology in college and I'm always kind of using that understanding of um, people and being able to talk to people in a certain level. So I make sure that whenever I'm interacting with someone I'm kind of going beyond the surface level of like who they are, kind of connecting with them personally the person before connecting as a photographer to a subject. So once I do that, it's a lot easier to make them feel comfortable, comfortable in front of the camera and you tend to see more of like who they are and what their kind of essence, what their vibe is and after you have those conversations,

Candace:                                  04:29                       That's awesome. Yeah. You can learn so much about people just by like talking to them. And I think that's one of the most important things. I think anytime you're working in any type of art where you're like collaborating with people is that you actually want to make sure that you're understanding them and you're having a conversation so that they're comfortable. It's really hard to just kind of jump into the work and expect it to flow. Well.

Damola:                                   04:54                       Exactly. It's actually really interesting because I, when I first started with photography, I just didn't understand it to be like a form of communication, like visual communication until I started taking certain classes. Like I took a class at UNC about emotions in society and once I kind of thought about, "oh wait, there is a way to convey like a moment in time just by picking up on certain emotions are picking up on certain feelings". That's when like my work just changed and became actually like work, like art, rather than just like me being a hobbyist and picking up the camera randomly. So there's a lot more intention behind it after that.

Candace:                                  05:43                       I think it's really, um, interesting. Like you, you brought up a good point of that you're coming into this idea of something that we see as being like really technical and kind of straightforward of taking a photograph, but you're able to kind of create a deeper meaning behind it by infusing like other disciplines. For example, you know, your background in photography. Would you say that you think the best art is art that encompasses, you know, or draws from I should say different platforms or different, um, different fields rather than just strictly staying on the art itself?

Damola:                                   06:28                       Oh yeah, definitely. I think for one art, I guess it's a cliche term or a cliche phrase, but art imitates life. So with life there's just so many different things you can talk about. You can, there's a. With anthropology, there's the idea of you can incorporate like visual arts into your anthropology when you study people and you can do that in terms of, um, so many different fields that I feel like it just is a great medium to kind of connect so many different parts of the human experience. So I'm definitely more drawn to people that tend to incorporate other disciplines into their work because of the fact that it just makes it more like more of the life experience rather than just, you know, capturing something in a bubble I guess. Yeah. I don't know if that made sense, but

Candace:                                  07:31                       Nice to be able to, to look at an artwork and see it as it is, but also see it from lightly different lenses of all these intersectional kind of perspectives that we have in life that we walk through. Um, You mentioned that you enjoy, you know, are there, does have this type of depth to it. What kind of photographers or just artists in general kind of helped to inspire your work?

Damola:                                   07:58                       So I guess just in general just inspires me creatively. My creative side, Solange, even though I guess she identifies more than musician, but I like her work with state here and just her album itself, like in her, you know, set design. It just, she, I could gush about her all day, but she definitely kind of makes me think about things in a more abstract way. Makes like, makes me feel like whenever I'm looking at something, don't look at the most obvious way to like convey something, kind of work around it and find different avenues that you may not otherwise have thought about. And then as far as like photographers themselves, um, I've said talked about her a lot as well. Um, yeah, Yagize Imese, she's actually a Nigerian photographer and I'm pretty sure she was my first introduction into photography as an art form and specifically more in the documentary arts and when I kind of got a chance to see who she was at as an artist, she definitely made sure to bring her own personal experiences into her work as well.

Damola:                                   09:16                       Um, as an African woman, as a woman photographer, there's not a lot of women out there that are prominent in the field. So when I saw her and her work, it just made me feel more confident in my abilities to get to those heights as far as being successful in the field. And also it made me want to bring more of my personality into the work as well because it's very easy to feel like as an artist you have to strictly do the work and that's it and not have any other depth to who you are. But I'm just like, you know what, if you want to see my photography, that's great, but I'm also going to show you that I'm a huge Beyonce fan and I love Solange and I love beauty and I love like all these other parts of the, of my life, just as much as I love photography and you're going to see that. So she definitely helped inspire that part of me as well.

Candace:                                  10:11                       That's awesome. I'm definitely, um, I'm definitely going to have to look her up because I, every time someone kind of like puts me onto new like artist or photographer or a singer or anybody, it's just for me, it just kind of helps to broaden my whole perspective on, on what art is. And like you said, how you can be as an artist. Like sometimes we think that, you know, a photographer should be a certain way or writers should be a certain way, but you really need to just kind of give yourself that own permission to carry your life out as an artist the way it fits you and not the way you think people expect you to be.

Damola:                                   10:47                       Exactly.

Candace:                                  10:47                       Um, awesome. So I know I wanted to talk a little bit about, I know that you went to an art school, I believe, like in high school or so. So what was that experience like? And were you already delving into photography at that point or were you working in other mediums?

Damola:                                   11:03                       Yeah, so I went to high school, an art high school, for Middle School and high school actually. So that was seven years at an art school, which I really appreciate now that I'm not in it. I didn't appreciate it as much as, you know, when I was younger I just kind of took it as what it was. I actually didn't do photography in middle school and high school. I did dance and theater, so I was a performing artist.

Candace:                                  11:28                       Okay.

Damola:                                   11:28                       My theater days I don't revisit very often because I don't think I was that good, so I kind of left that behind, but dance is still a really big part of my life. Um, I did it in college and I've been trying to get back into it even after graduating. But uh, I think it solidi- like helped build a foundation as far as artistry. Um, I got to be around other people that are very creative constantly. I, half of my school day was basically in art classes, which is great and it definitely helped me now that I'm older to kind of understand who I am as a artist even if it wasn't necessarily a photography, but it was still a pretty pivotal part of my life in terms of building my love for the art.

Candace:                                  12:21                       So what coming from like having that artistic background, having an appreciation for it obviously like a lot of creative bones in your body, so to speak. What, what actually prompted you to like pick up the camera for the first time and say like, "I'm going to try this out?"

Damola:                                   12:38                       Well, my first time doing photography. Technically it was when I was in the Yearbook Club when I was in the seventh grade, I was one of their photographers, but I didn't, I wasn't taking it seriously necessarily. I just loved the idea of being able to go around and take pictures of my friends but, and take pictures of them specifically and very mundane moments. Not necessarily, you know, going out of my way to like pose them or anything. It's just like them living but wasn't until college where a friend of mine who's a blogger needed some pictures and I started to help her with that and more people were like, "Hey wait, this is something you could actually do Damola." So it wasn't, it was like with the encouragement of other people that I actually decided to get into it, which I appreciate because otherwise I'm not sure what I'd be doing right now. So it's crazy how life works out.

Candace:                                  13:32                       It is. And it's, I feel like that's such an important example too of how community really helps artists. Like we always think about it afterwards, like, oh, I'm trying to do this, you know, help me out. But sometimes it's honestly just that first word of encouragement or just telling that person like, you're good at this or keep trying or you know, I'll help you figure this out can be the difference. Because a lot of times I feel that, you know, generally we kind of look at an artist and we say like, "oh, you're so talented, like, you know, go out here and do this," but it takes a lot to put your work out there. Like that's not even if you are really good at what you do. So I think it's just amazing that you already had these, you know, these ideas and these passions here. But having that community around you really helped to say like, "Hey, I can do this."

Damola:                                   14:28                       Yeah. No, I definitely appreciate even till this day, like anyone that provides any sort of support, whether it be like emotional or anything like that, that's the reason why I'm able to do what I do because it's a very hard path to take. As an artist. You can't do it by yourself and I'm always telling people who decide to get into that space. You just try to find your community, right? Like right off the bat, even if it's not like your family or friends, finding other people that will relate to your journey because there are some hard spots where I was like, wow, maybe this isn't for me. Maybe I chose the wrong path, but luckily I had other people to like shut me down and say like, you need to stop acting up and just get yourself together. Bring it up.

Candace:                                  15:17                       So when you first got started, like what? What kind of camera did you have? Like what, what was your whole process of like your camera, your editing equipment, like how did that evolve in terms of what you use to make and edit your photos?

Damola:                                   15:35                       So my very first camera technically was like a Nikon point and shoot that I got for Christmas when I was younger. I never used it because it was a bad camera, but I guess when I got older I switched to the Canon T3 eye rebel, which is like a really good starter introduction camera. Actually. I still know a lot of people who are full blown professionals and they use that camera even though it's considered like very beginner because ultimately gear is not going to make you a better photographer. Something I had to come to realize.

Candace:                                  16:12                       That is so true.

Damola:                                   16:13                       I think that's what a lot of mediums like the, yeah, it helps to have better equipment that end of the day if you don't know what you're doing, that camera is not going to make you better. So it wasn't until recently that I actually upgraded my camera to a canon 60, which is basically a step above and I've noticed a difference. Um, and it's also helped me understand like where I am in my journey as far as being a photographer and when it comes to upgrading equipment, I tend to do it once. I feel like I'm like limited in any way and I think that's a good way to go about it rather than feel like pick up the most expensive camera just because everyone else is using it. So

Candace:                                  16:56                       Yeah, I think you have to, you have to follow what you're feeling inside. Like what your skill level is and I, I even think that it's important just to spend a lot of time getting to know what you have first. There's so many features on a camera between like automatic and manual one that everything, like you should have a good understanding of how to use it to work for you and not against you before you run out and get something else.

Damola:                                   17:25                       So that's definitely a big, big tip to anyone starting out. Don't fall into the trap of like getting the most expensive camera because you're going to look at it and you're going to be like, this is actually a whole nother language that I do not understand

Candace:                                  17:40                       And I know that for which a lot of people I know, anyone who sees your work is going to be completely shocked. But I know that for the most part like you are self-taught in photography, which you can't tell because your work has such a season like feel to it.

Damola:                                   17:56                       Thaanks.

Candace:                                  17:59                       Yeah!! So what would you say was like helpful to you to kind of start learning the nuances and the real, the technical things of like how to set up your camera or like how to edit your pictures and all of that

Damola:                                   18:13                       Youtube. That's like the holy grail. I had to scour through so many videos to kind of understand how my camera work and even beyond that, when it came to like the technical, there is like a technicality in terms of taking a photo as well, like when it comes to, um, uh, what's the word I'm like, composition, composition, lighting, little things like that. Um, once I was able to kind of learn about the nuances on youtube and even just googling and finding bloggers that are into it and stuff, I'll ultimately just going out and practicing with them was one thing that got me to the place that I am, um, even if it's just shooting people for free or whatever, I just had to make sure that I was always using my camera and learning new things about it because there are so many things that took me months to like realize what it was and it wasn't because I like googled it or anything.

Damola:                                   19:09                       It literally is because I stumbled upon it on my camera during the shoot with like, "oh my gosh, why didn't I know this before?" The little things when I tell you the light meter, it took me forever to realize how to use it properly. And the minute I did I was like, "wow, my life has changed. This is crazy." I have heard people talk about if I have no idea what it was until I actually just played around with it. So practice definitely is why I'm able to do what I do and I still have a ways to go. I feel like there's so much more I could learn. Um, but to a certain extent you just have to do it.

Candace:                                  19:47                       Yeah. It's trial and error like that is, that's always going to be the best teacher that you ever have. You also do, of course amongst your portrait photography is a lot of self portraits. So how did you get into that medium? Because it's like something that you don't see often when you look at photography and of course we're in this whole age of selfies and everything, but self portraiture is in a whole different level of that even though you have this concept of taking a photo of yourself. So how did you get into that field?

Damola:                                   20:19                       So self portraiture of kind of came about also in the very beginnings of me taking photos. One because I was too nervous to take pictures of other people. I was just like I couldn't be. I just had so much like nerves when it came to my ability and my confidence and I was like, you know what the at least if I took pictures of myself and it looks bad, no one would know. Um, and then also I use it as a, like a form of self reflection as well because I was in a time of my life where I was feeling not as confident about my abilities just as a person and having photography and seeing myself in a photo in a way that I present myself and no one else, you know, constructed that image was really, really important to my self and self esteem. So, um, it Kinda gave me agency, uh, which is something I'd been looking for at that point. It gave me the ability to kind of reclaim myself in a lot of different forms. So it just gave me the power that I needed at that point to kind of figure out who I was as a person. So that was like definitely the underlying reason behind my self portraiture.

Candace:                                  21:41                       That's really, that's such a cool concept, especially because you're, because of the medium that you're using, like you actually are directly like seeing yourself and like confronting all those different things was, I know around the same, um, I guess timeline in this end. So like the same period. You were also, I think you had recently gone natural with your hair. Correct?

Damola:                                   22:05                       Yeah! Or at least it was like the beginnings of my natural hair journey. Yeah.

Candace:                                  22:08                       Was that also something that was kind of, i don't know, a bit, you mentioned reflective, but was that kind of like a good therapeutic time as well to kind of come to terms with all of these things as you're going through your photography?

Damola:                                   22:23                       Yeah, I mean my natural hair journey was also like a form of reclaiming myself because I just came to the realization that I wanted to be natural in all sense. I guess making sure that like what I'm, I feel comfortable in like every part of my body, including my hair. So I guess even with photography I kind of used that as a form of not just for myself but for other people to show that natural hair is beautiful and kinky hair is not unruly and at that point I think the natural hair community was still budding. I think like the early 2010 onward, I think it was still pretty fresh, so it was a great way because sometimes I didn't see people that had hair like me. I was like, you know what, I'm just going to be my own representation and put that out there, not just for myself but for other people. So I think that kind of what's cool to connect with other people on that level as well. Um, with my photos.

Candace:                                  23:26                       That's awesome. Yeah. I feel that so many, um, so many people, especially now that we have like social media have really been taking, um, taking their own um, images and just creating whatever representation they feel is missing, which I think is awesome that we have that because in the midst of all of, you know, the ups and downs of these platforms, we still have a way that we can create our own images for the world to kind of answer or fix those places where things are missing. And I think, I think that's awesome.

Candace:                                  24:03                       You also have another really, really cool, um, artistic endeavor, in a sense, and I know that's called the authentic weave, i that you started with one of your best friends. So tell us a little bit about that.

Damola:                                   24:18                       Yeah, the Authentic Weave started in 26, I believe. Yeah, 2016 started it with my friend Nagua who is also like so fun and she loves beauty. She loves fashion. Um, and I guess one day people just notice that both of us just knew enough about stuff that we should just make a youtube channel. Everyone would ask those questions about like hair and skincare and stuff like that. And then eventually they're like, "so why don't you just make a youtube channel so that we can stop asking you these questions?" Think that's actually a good point. I was a little hesitant at first just because

Damola:                                   24:58                       I was still kind of getting comfortable in my skin and being, putting myself out there in front of people, but it's become a really great avenue. It's still budding and I'm still learning how to use it, but I really enjoyed using that platform because especially with I guess darker skins, women and makeup, I think a lot of people still want to see more darker skinned women in the media. So. And it, when it comes to youtube spaces it gets a little bit harder to break in and be more well known and I've noticed that, but I still love doing it because it's just something that I'm also really in love with and I love the idea of, you know, putting makeup on and you don't necessarily have to have like a Glam look on if you're not into that, you can keep it natural. But I just loved the idea of choice when it comes to like beauty as well. So.

Candace:                                  25:57                       Yeah. And I feel like this is the, like the premier time to do that because you have so many people now talking about choice in terms of beauty and like foundation ranges syncs to the whole conversation that's been started since the Fenty beauty launched and everything. So I feel like this is a fantastic time to, to actually start talking about those things and to really break out and give people a wider representation because it's so. It's one of those things I didn't even realize initially just because I wasn't really wearing makeup that much until probably I got to college and then I started looking and it's like, wow, okay. You go in the drug store and there's like 10 colors here. This is not representative of the world. So I think it's awesome that you all are, are doing that and using youtube as a platform. I don't think I could ever do youtube because I don't think I'm interesting enough.

Damola:                                   26:59                       Everyone has their like their platform, their reason why they should be unused. I completely understand. It's a lot of work so I'm not going push you to do it if you don't want to. But the idea of being like someone will listen to you. I promise there will be. Even if it's like 10 people, that those 10 people will run and tell other 10 people to like listen to you. It's just like I say we're at, you know.

Candace:                                  27:24                       That's true, definitely. And I can, and that's true because even like I'm always on youtube and I'm so loyal to like everyone that I follow. So that's true. Youtube is you get your band of people and just run with it.

Damola:                                   27:37                       Right. It's always worth it to at least try.

Candace:                                  27:40                       Exactly. So what kind of collaboration have you done with your photography? Like have you done like, print or kind of digital things with any organizations or like magazines?

Damola:                                   27:55                       I think the major one that I did was actually in Cape Town, South Africa, but I, um, I went there last year, during the summer, um, thanks to a scholarship grant that funded my photo project, but while I was there, this was very unintentional. Like I didn't go there seeking this collaboration, but I actually got the chance to work with Adidas. Um, or I guess it's pronounced addie das. I don't know. Apparently there's two different pronunciations. But um, I went there. They were, they had opened up a new space, the specifically for like, um, the youth of Cape Town to as a form of collaboration within their communities to create, um, editorials using their new clothing launches that they had and I just so happened to be there and the right time at the right place, so, you know, it's like, you know, what, I would love to do this if you would give me the space to do so.

Damola:                                   28:48                       So I gave them a proposal in terms of like the concept that I wanted to do, which was definitely highlighting like women of color. Um, and I was able to create a whole editorial out of that. And while I was on the plane ride back to the United States, I got a whatsapp saying that the editorial was published in Elle magazine, Elle, South Africa. So I was like, wow.

Candace:                                  29:15                       Oh my goodness.

Damola:                                   29:17                       That was the height so far of my photography experience. I was like, "what people care? They want to see my work in Elle magazine. What?" I was screaming. I was in the middle of, um, I'm pretty sure I was in New York at that time connecting flights and I was so angry because the lines were ridiculous, but when I saw that message I was like, "Nothing else matters. You guys can literally cancel my flight right now and I'd be so happy." So that was a great experience and I, that kind of helped me feel better about myself as a photographer to you because I was like, hey, if I could do this, I can, I can do anything at this point. Like, let's go. And

Candace:                                  30:00                       I'm glad that you. I'm glad that you share that story too because it's so indicative of how if you do the work and you're focused on what you're doing and those opportunities will come and get ready for them just because you've been working that whole time. That's just awesome. Um, what, what things do you have on your horizons? Like any projects you're working on or just like general goals for the future? Like what, what would your artistic dreams be like five or 10 years from now?

Damola:                                   30:35                       I guess currently like more like short term. I'm working on a lot of personal projects to kind of, um, that are more connected. I think a lot of the work that I've done, even if it is like similar themes, I haven't done like a theories of proper series yet and uh, I think I'm going to go more into the field of documentary work in terms of the series. So I'm looking forward to connecting with people in my community and kind of building a story off of that. Don't want to give away too many details just because I'm the type of person to kind of draft things and then they're done. I am working on something right now, but as far as 10 years from now, who knows? I'm definitely one of those people that are like, "I'll take things as they come." Um,

Candace:                                  31:27                       yeah,

Damola:                                   31:28                       I, I just want to enjoy the journey, enjoy where I am right now, even though it's been hard. It's not easy at all. And I think people don't really see the um, the hard parts of being an artist. They kind of see like the, you know, the goals and everything that you, all your things that you reach and all the experiences that you have, but they don't necessarily see the times where you want to give up. So I've been learning to kind of take things as I go and hopefully everything works out.

Candace:                                  31:58                       How do you like personally push through those moments when like you're unmotivated or you're doubting yourself? Like besides of course, you know, we mentioned like community and people supporting you, but like what things do you do personally to kind of get through those? Those bumps?

Damola:                                   32:15                       If it's bad enough, I just stopped. I just take time off and decide not to do any photos for awhile. I actually did that recently. I was just like, I need a hiatus. I need like a little break and rediscover why I fell in love with photography and why I'm doing it. Like what my why was. It's really important to kind of come to that place because that ultimately is why, what's going to push me forward. And it did, it helped me, you know, we, you know, realize what I was about and what my goals were and I'm totally okay with that. I don't feel like I need to be producing. I like producing content constantly, so breaks for me are definitely necessary to kind of get to that point.

Candace:                                  33:03                       That is so true. Like there's nothing, there's nothing better than having time away to like pack up and then come back to that space where you're motivated again and where you're actually missing what you're doing because a lot of times people do think that it has to be this nonstop, but art and the process of producing it can be whatever works for you at that moment.

Damola:                                   33:26                       Right, exactly. I totally agree. And it's hard, I guess with social media because there's this expectation as well as putting things out there all the time, but at the end of the day, you're making things for yourself, not for your audience. It's great that other people enjoy it, but if you're not, then there's no point.

Candace:                                  33:45                       Exactly. They're definitely going to be able to see that through your work and that's not good.

Damola:                                   33:53                       Yeah, exactly. They'll see that it's very like half done, not in like thought out. It's just not worth it.

Candace:                                  34:00                       All right. So now we have kind of the, what I consider the fun portion Meraki Picks. We'll start off with I think what's most fun? What is a song that like it stuck in your head right now or that you've been listening to you nonstop.

Damola:                                   34:16                       Okay. Well the one that stuck in my head is probably "In my feelings". So that's not on purpose. The new Drake song that is because everyone and their mom has been dancing to it, so that's not necessarily, not necessarily my intention but it's so happy in my head all the time. But the song that I've been listening to you often let me go through my Spotify because I listened to music all the time. I do tell them it's actually really a big part of my life. So, um, I would say "Take Me Apart" by Kelela is probably something that I play all the time. She's also one of my favorite artists,

Candace:                                  35:00                       So I definitely have heard her songs but not that particular one. So I'm definitely gonna run out after this.

Damola:                                   35:08                       It's on her new album. Well new-ish. It came out in November, so you should definitely check it out.

Candace:                                  35:13                       Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, I love listening to you. New Artists. I have, um, I have an obsession with this guy who's from, I want to say it's like Ireland or something, but he goes under the name Fkj, which is French kiwi juice, which sounds really weird. Experimental jazz slash some of the songs he doesn't even sing. It's just all instrumental and some of them he does. It's really, it's really relaxing but kind of has a vibe to it at the same time.

Damola:                                   35:49                       I'm going to check that out. I love experimental kind of music.

Candace:                                  35:52                       So yeah, that's Kinda been my thing for the last couple of months. What is a quote or a piece of advice that you kind of live by? That kind of motivates you in a way?

Damola:                                   36:14                       Something that I kind of think about day by day is "I am enough." That is an affirmation that I've kept with me since I was very young. It's even tattooed on me. I'm the reason why I hold onto that is because I think there's just so much pressure from so many different parts of my life where I feel like I have to do more or be more and that kind of teaches me or tells me to like, "Wait, who you are is enough." You never have to try to, you know, extend yourself more than what you are already. So yeah, I think that's a big one.

Candace:                                  36:52                       That's awesome. I love that one. What is a restaurant that you think everyone in the world should go to?

Damola:                                   36:59                       It's in Chapel Hill. It's this Indian restaurant. I love Indian food. It's like, I think it's because it's so similar to Nigerian food. I'm Nigerian for those who don't know. Um, it's so similar in like the Palette that I'm obsessed with it. I can eat Indian food all day every day. Like that's definitely my go to for sure.

Candace:                                  37:23                       That's awesome. We went there one time, um, one of my classes that was like our end of the year. Um, I don't know, kind of like, it was like a celebration, a sense. It was really weird. But our last day of class, that's where we went and ate and I just thought it was the most delicious food ever. So good. Where can we find you online if we want to follow you, because you know everyone is going after this?

Damola:                                   37:48                       Follow me on instagram at DamolaAkintunde. Um, and twitter @DamolaAkintunde, but it has one less a in my username and my website. DamolaAkintunde.com as well. Other. Oh, the authentic weave youtube channel and check that out. Um, yeah, I think that's everything. Well, for anyone who's listening who is going through their own personal artistic journey, I, if you need it to hear it from someone I'm telling you, "don't give up, push through whatever you're working through that um, your art is special just because it comes from you. Not necessarily because anyone gives it value. I think I saw this the other day and it really resonated with me that the whole point of you creating is because it's coming from your special perspective and no one can take that away from you. So you should put that out in the world. And everyone deserves to see an extension of you, basically.

Candace:                                  38:53                       That's resonates with me as well. I think it's always important that we remember to just keep pushing that what's in our hearts is important and it's worth taking that time to share it with the world.

Speaker 1:                               39:09                       You've been listening to Meraki Mentors, podcasts with Candice Howze. We're honored you chose to spend your time with us today. To learn more about today's guest or the podcast visit Meraki Mentors podcast.com. Thanks so much for listening. Remember to rate or maybe us on Itunes, facebook, or your favorite podcast APP.

Candace:                                  39:30                       Don't forget to create and connect.