First Person: Larry Achiampong

London artist Larry Achiampong
London artist Larry Achiampong
London artist Larry Achiampong, by Kate Keara Pelen

I’ve grown up in East London and I know how it is as an aspiring artist, and especially a young aspiring black artist, to try to get into the industry through various channels. So when someone from Iniva, the arts organisation, contacted me and said they were putting together a video series for Hackney Live to inspire young people in the area, I was immediately interested.

I have dual nationality – Ghanaian as well as British – and my parents arrived here in the late 70s early 80s. We’ve always been a working class family, so in terms of my interest in art I guess it kind of occurred through pop culture – I used to draw comic characters like spiderman and sketch sports logos like Nike and Adidas.

I was encouraged by my teachers to apply for arts courses as a teenager and then moved on to a BA at the University of Westminster and a masters in sculpture at the Slade School of Art.

One of my big struggles in terms of studying was finding out about artists with a similar background. By the time I graduated from the Slade I was surrounded by white, well-to-do students.

So maybe it’s just about giving young people the chance to see a black artist from their area, who they might have an affinity with. I hope it inspires them to follow their dreams and creativity.