A Conversation with Dakoro Edwards


Michael Payne HSI’ve always held a deep appreciation for creative people. Musicians, actors and artists alike, their ability to tap into that creative part of the mind that allows them to imagine the unthinkable is a rare gift. That’s one of the reasons I created UnderCurrent Atlanta , to surround myself with creative people.


Like most super heroes, with great creativity, comes responsibility. Art has the ability to inspire the masses, to tug at the heart strings or influence the mind. Some artists toe that line and play it safe. Hey, I’m not hating cause I can’t draw to save my life. But other artists have an inner motivation that pushes them to create profound pieces of art. I think I’ve met one of those artists in Dakoro Edwards.

Hailing from Syracuse, NY  but now living the life of a southerner, Dakoro Edwards is the type of artist that has a complex statement behind all his artwork. Each curve of a line, every brush stroke of color has meaning and sometimes that message can be as clear day. But once you look closer at one of his paintings, a much more deliberate statement is revealed, one that might even expose hidden truths about yourself.

I recently sat down with Dakoro to discuss life, his artwork and where it’s all leading.


UnderCurrent Atlanta: Welcome Dakoro and thanks for taking time to talk with me. I saw your artwork on Facebook and really enjoyed what I saw. How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Dakoro Edwards: I’ve been described as a versatile, multi-dimensional artist. My skillsets allow me the opportunities to (work) with almost any medium to produce abstracts, portraits, graffiti, murals, sketches and so on. My artwork is described in my brand name, “ART IN REAL LIFE“. My work is produced from the premises that humanity is the structure we all live within, and based on my observations, I capture that on canvas. My intent is always to provoke thought, but a similarity at the same time.

UCA: How did you get started painting?

DE: My introduction was realized when I was able to draw cartoon characters from memory at the age of 5. That focus eventually turned the pencil into a paintbrush, and the rest is history. I’ve been fortunate to acquire a certain expertise through experience, and very limited formal training. In 2007, I knew I could do this for a living, just more from a social aspect, I was like “Let me get out and start mingling” and I figured out, I’m not really the mingling type. That doesn’t bother me but I’m not a “weird” artist. I’m not changing my dialect or having an (ascot) on.

UCA: Did you have anyone that “pushed” you to achieve your goals?

DEMy parents are my greatest influences. I’ve followed a few artists over time, but I’ve never really aspired to paint or use a particular style similar to another artists work. The business side of being an artist, sure, there are quit a few I admire.

UCA: I know you’re originally from the north, New York state to be exact. What’s it like living in Atlanta now or more specifically, the south?

DE: It took me a little bit to get acclimated to the south. It’s certain things that happen down here that we wouldn’t necessarily tolerate up there. I’m not saying we’re in a different position, we may be a little more vocal about our disdain. Atlanta’s cool. I still haven’t really planted my feet here though but from what I’ve heard and what I’ve experienced, Atlanta is a city with a lot of transients. I haven’t met a lot of people from Atlanta, you know what I’m saying so it’s a melting pot for all different types of people.

UCA: You talk about being more vocal about your contempt for some things. I imagine you find that voice through your artwork. Any of your paintings carry that message?


DE: My version of George Zimmerman… when you look in the eyes, the last thing that Trayvon Martin saw was that exact image [see below] and in that image (George Zimmerman) you see the image of Trayvon Martin. As heinous as a crime as it was , there are a lot of George Zimmermans out there. And it didn’t necessarily come from a specific race, it came from a specific mindset, a specific energy that they have about them when it comes to empowerment, when it comes to fear and I don’t buy into that. I don’t think there’s no turning back at this point because when I see people out here and they have these weapons and they are not use to using the weapon, if anything happens, that’s the first thing they are going to reach for.



UCA: The Trayvon Martin case is just another example of the inequalities people of color face in this world. Personally, I remember feeling anger and despair after hearing a not guilty verdict. Obviously, you were touched by the incident, hence your painting. Is painting one way for you to express your emotions?

DE: I get all of my feelings out through my artwork, if I didn’t…I definitely wouldn’t be a very well liked person. I wouldn’t be speaking anything untrue but the way that I speak is very straight forward, there is no cookie cutter…of course you have to be compassionate, you have to be tactful but it’s not necessarily “let me spare your feelings” so let me fumble over my words trying to get my thoughts out.

UCA: You’ve been in Atlanta for a some time now, what do you think of the artistic community here?

DEAlthough I’ve lived here quit a few years, I haven’t fully immersed myself into the art scene in Atlanta. I do know that there is a tremendous amount of talent here. I appreciate the murals and galleries in the city, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with them in the near future. I love all the artist here. I don’t know a lot of them but I see their work on social media and stuff like that. There are some incredibly gifted and talented artist out there. continue to be true to whatever source you get your ideas taken from.

UCA: Any advice for the up and coming artists trying to make it in the world?

DE: My advice would be to always have a creative balance. Create a few works for yourself, then create what your audience wants. You will always grow when you exceed your zone of content.

Dakoro Edwards is the winner of Atlanta’s 2012 Raw Artist of the Year Award. To see more of Dakoro’s work, check out his website. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Big thanks to Dakoro for taking the time out of his day to chat with UnderCurrent Atlanta!