In New York, the term street art is synonymous with graffiti. In Ghana, and much of West Africa, street art is synonymous with advertising. From the stalls of street vendors, to roadside signage to the exterior walls of people’s homes, street art is ubiquitous on the streets of Ghana’s major cities. For much of Ghana’s history, street artist have played an important, albeit unacknowledged, role in the informal economy, advertising for restaurants, bars, hairdressers, barbers, traditional healers, entertainers, and merchants of all kinds. Before the advent of television and the digital revolution, street artist provided bespoke and cost effective service commercials for business owners.
Clement Laryea is a practitioner of this traditional art form. For Clement, art has always been a passion. Born into a family of artists, his talent was recognized at an early age and encouraged by his family. After high school, Clement became an apprentice to an established street artist. He spent 5 years training with his tutor.
Unfortunately for Clements, he began his career at time when the advertising business was evolving. With the influx of cheaper digital printers into the Ghanaian advertising space, traditional street artists lost a significant amount of business. Clement was faced with a tough decision on whether to continue in his chosen profession or find a different path to ensure his survival and the survival of his family. Clement chose to follow his passion, and continued experimenting with new styles and techniques.
Over time, he’s created his own unique approach that has proven popular with local patrons. With the proceeds from the sale of his masterpieces, Clements was able to open up his own studio, where he teaches the next generation of Ghanaian street artist.