We had the good fortune of connecting with Dakarai Akil and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dakarai, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is very necessary when going after your dreams. I’m from Cleveland, OH where the art industry isn’t nearly as strong as it is here in LA. Thats not a bad thing or any slight to my hometown but you have to follow the opportunities that are out there. I made a decision to move to LA with almost nothing. I was living out of my car in Pittsburgh, PA after a failed job opportunity that made me uproot my career in Ohio. I knew there was better out there for me so I bet it all on moving across the country and going after it here in LA. I came out here with $1300. After bills and rent, that was all gone in 3 weeks. But I was determined to make this work for me. I decided for myself that nothing would make me abandon this. You have to make that decision with yourself for yourself. Either you’re gonna kill it or let it kill you. I think that mentality will take anyone far in life. Just bet on yourself and let nothing throw you off of your center.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a collage artist that started way back in my early teenage years as a graffiti artist. I had notebooks and black books full of graff when I was younger. Then that turned into fashion when I discovered what Pharrell Williams was doing with BBC/Ice Cream and Nigo with A Bathing Ape. I was in love with that whole steez. I couldnt afford it so I would draw characters in my black books dressed in my own clothing that was pretty much a bite off of those brands. Around age 15 I discovered photoshop. I took those same concepts and started creating them in photoshop which lead me to study graphic design in high school. Later on I would go to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for Fashion & Retail mgmt. to learn how to build a successful clothing brand. Long story short that was not the way to go for me. After years of seeing how the fashion Industry works I had fallen out of love with it and would eventually divert back to art. Graphic design turned into collage art. Ever since the first time I made a collage I had fallen in love with the whole process of taking old images and recreating an entirely different composition. It was resourceful and therapeutic. It also played into my obsession with collecting things. (a nicer way of saying I’m borderline a hoarder) Having to collect magazines and other source material for collage making fits my personality perfectly. There is nothing easy about pursuing a career as a working artist. If its easy for you I question how you got it. Especially being a black male artist. I feel as if we have to go extra hard to prove ourselves worthy of any opportunities we get. And thats with anything in life for us. i’ve overcome the challenges by making it a life or death thing for me. I hate to make it seem so morbid but it really is that for me. My dream is to be able to live solely off of art so in order for that to become my reality I have to work day in and day out to prove myself worthy. That may not work for some but that has taken me very far in life. From making art in my room in my moms house to literally going around the globe sharing my craft with others. One lesson I learned along the way is to put integrity first. People will respect that and remember you for it in the long run. Money is cool but integrity is the most important thing you can have in this industry. Stay true to you and lead with love and respect. I want the world to know that none of this came easy. Nothing good does come easy. Taking risks and betting on myself no matter how difficult the challenges were took me further than I could even imagine. My intentions are to spread love through my craft. As long as i stick to that there isnt much that can get in my way.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of first things we would do is get food from El Taco Loco #3 in Long Beach. Then we would take a trip down the PCH toward malibu which is my favorite thing to do. Hypothetically speaking, we would hangout at Gold Line in Highland Park if COVID wasnt a thing. Then I’d hit the best record stores we can find. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family. They’ve always believed in me and never let me think I dont deserve where I am in life. They’ve been my biggest supporters since I started. Buying art from me, wearing the clothing I put out, when I struggle they never let me fall too far. I know a lot of people dont have that luxury of having a loving and supporting family so I don’t take any of them for granted even in the slightest. Any win for me is a win for them.

Website: www.dakaraiart.com

Instagram: @dk1994

Facebook: Dakarai Akil

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