Inspired by Daniele Tamagni: Music Videos, Eyewear...and now Books for Kids

So the other day I was chillin' in Milan with a couple of new friends,
one of which I met at this phenomenal conference I attended a couple of weeks ago in gorgeous Florence.
The conference was called Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-staging Histories.
Um, I lack the time and words to adequately describe the magnificence of attending this conference right now.
I'm so grateful for the gift of the experience, as well as the people I met.

Fresh Peeps
Fresh Kicks

Photo: Daniele Tamagni
At World EXPO in Milan

One of the connections I made was a guy by the name of Daniele Tamagni. He's a renowned photographer and author of so many splendid and sought after books, including the sold-out Gentlemen of Bacongo. Daniele shot the images for this book during a month long stay in the country the Congo, and his work inspired so many projects from other creatives...

Photo: Daniele Tamagni

It's easy to see how. As I flipped through the pages I kept thinking, "What exquisite use of color." "What a juxtaposition to see such extreme style against the backdrop of extreme poverty."

Style is a state of mind.

Daniele has an affinity for highlighting subcultures and stories seemingly overlooked by others, collecting what he's observed and then presenting it to the public in the form of a book or exhibition. It was fascinating to hear him recount the narratives behind award-winning photos like this one:

The Flying Cholitas
copyright David Tamagni

His level of humility and the ease with which he seems to approach people and ideas very different from him and his own is remarkable. As we waited for the pasta to be ready, he showed me some of his awards, almost in a whisper..."This one...Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle won before me."

Dang, boy.

No wonder Solange called him to join her for creative input and direction when she was ready to shoot one of my favorite videos of all time, "Losing You," a piece of visual art that was inspired by his book Gentlemen of Bacongo. 

work, then.

Watching it now, after having perused Daniele's book several times, is like pressing the play button on his work. The same book also inspired an entire Italian eyewear campaign.

What a gift it must be to watch your work move and translate in others. One of the most interesting pieces of information I learned from Daniele was that he shopped around his images for Gentlemen of Bacongo, finally finding a publishing home in Trolley Books. Reminded me of what my mentor Tom always tells me...You make your own luck.

I can definitely add my name to the list of folks inspired by Daniele. As I sat on a train from Milan back home to Rome writing in a fury, I made the decision that Kwame, a character made in the likeness of Clifford Owusu who will eventually be Kofi's stepdad in my book series but for now is a new friend to Mama Abena, will be a fashion designer specializing in African menswear in the upcoming Kofi Goes to Milan. 

Kofi & Kwame, who totally already looks like a fashion designer, right?

Can't wait to see how Phil (my illustrator) translates that into a different kind of art.

Will include a nod to Daniele in the dedication as a thank you for the inspiration.
And the pasta.

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