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Meet Rizzy, the founder and AI artist raising awareness about sickle cell

As you know, at ourppls we're incredibly passionate about how the arts can be used to communicate and express our unique and sometimes quite complex experiences of humanity. Today we caught up with Rizzy, who is the founder of an e-commerce self care grooming brand called 'Goodman Factory' who recently created his own AI art studio called 'Akanji' which serves him as a platform for expression, especially as he navigates his life with sickle cell.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, read on for the full interview with Rizzy.

What’s the inspiration behind your art?

My art is driven by a desire to express the thoughts and emotions within me and to introduce beauty into the world. I create sickle cell-inspired pieces to connect with and empower young people facing similar challenges. Moreover, I'm drawn to afro-futurism as a means to envision and paint a vibrant future for my community—one that is rich with culture, resilience, and innovation. Through this lens, I strive to challenge and reimagine conventional narratives about African identity and potential. Surrealism, on the other hand, grants me the freedom to explore and depict facets of African life and identity that are often overlooked or misrepresented in mainstream media. By presenting surreal expressions of African experiences, I aim to broaden perspectives and celebrate the diverse beauty and complexity of our culture.

Ultimately, my art serves as a canvas through which I can design and share my unique vision of the world—a world that embraces diversity, empowers marginalised voices, and celebrates the rich tapestry of human experience.

How is art helping you to engage with your sickle cell?

Art serves as a powerful medium for me to engage with my experience of sickle cell. It provides an outlet for me to express the physical and emotional complexities of living with the condition. art serves as a form of therapy for me, offering solace during difficult times and empowering me to reclaim agency over my narrative. By channeling my experiences into creative expression, I find healing and resilience, transforming pain into purpose.

My aim in creating these pieces is to reach and connect with the global youth and sickle cell community, sparking conversations, raising awareness, and fostering solidarity.

What other activites are you doing to help maintain your wellbeing?

Working out, meditation, yoga & badminton! Keeps the blood flowing. The mental benefits are gold.

Tell us more about your choices blending AI, poetry and art?

Combining AI, poetry, and art is a natural extension of my passion for digital design and storytelling. With a background in video production, I've long believed that true expression often requires a fusion of multiple mediums. Images or audio alone can only convey so much; it's the synthesis of various forms of communication and media that allows for a fuller, more authentic expression.

In today's world, the tools and technologies available provide an unprecedented opportunity for creative exploration and authenticity. AI, in particular, offers a novel way to infuse art and poetry with new dimensions of creativity and meaning. By leveraging these modern methods, I can push the boundaries of traditional artistic expression, unlocking new possibilities for storytelling and connecting with audiences on a deeper level.

What has been the general reception to your art work?

The reception to my artwork has been incredibly positive and impactful. I've received requests for prints from individuals living with sickle cell, which has enabled me to not only fulfill their requests but also use the proceeds to further support the community.

By reinvesting all profit into providing free prints for young people with Sickle cell. I'm committed to continuing my efforts to uplift and advocate for the sickle cell community.

What does community look like to you and how has your work helped create that?

Community, to me, is about forging meaningful connections, building relationships, and collectively working towards common objectives, whether they be social, cultural, or creative.

The impact in my community has been profound. Through my art and poetry, people with sickle cell across the globe feel seen and represented. It's a powerful validation of their experiences and struggles, fostering a sense of connection and empowerment. Overall, it's been incredibly rewarding to witness the positive impact my creations have had on the sickle cell community, instilling a sense of solidarity and hope.

The one thing I want people to take away from my work is to feel seen, heard, and understood, reassuring them that they are not alone.

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