Tuesday, April 3, 2018


"The OBA" Oil on Panel 13" x 17". This is one of a few new paintings for an ongoing book project. As an African American artist, Illustrator and Afrofuturist, I'm more interested in depicting the farthest reaches of where we can go rather than paint where we've been. I'd like to believe that one day the first colonists of another planet will consist of those of African descent. Hopefully there will be room out there among the stars to escape the hate and injustice we've endured for centuries. I may not live to see it but maybe my daughter will.

When I showcased this painting at AwesomeCon in Washington D.C, I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of love and reactions it received. The best response was from a teenaged boy who stopped and stared at the print for a long time before telling me he’d never seen scifi painting of anybody that looked like him. He then went on to nervously whisper to me that he was half black and half jewish. I told him that’s cool because my daughter is biracial too. His eyes lit up as he shook my hand and told me he had to buy the print. Representation matters and it made my weekend to see so many come through at the convention to buy and support my efforts. Just about every artist at the con had some form of black panther fan art but nobody in the entire building had a portrait of a bald black woman in space. I ended up selling out of all the prints and mousepads I brought of this image so a big thank you to everyone I met. Prints are available through my website store and progress pics/timelapse vids are on my instagram ericwilkersonart. I’m posting more there these days.

OBA Issa Zola De La Sol

The Oba’s clothing and framework around her head are inspired by the South African Ndebele women who would adorn themselves with a variety of ornaments, each symbolizing their status in society. Ndebele women’s dresses became more elaborate after marriage and the wives would wear copper and brass rings around their arms, legs and neck. It is also inspired by the neck elongating rings worn by the women in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar.

I designed the Oba’s robes and shoulders to have ornamental patterns that would display the rich cultural heritage of her ancestors from Old Earth. Afro- Caribbean carnival markings adorn her shoulder pads and on silks wrapped in between her neck frame. Her face paint is both African and Afro Caribbean in design. The final touches to the painting were inspired by the colorful dashiki clothing of west Africa. Painting those little triangles was probably the most time consuming part of the entire piece. One minor omission from the final painting was the indian bindi headpiece. Not that there was anything wrong with it, I just wanted the focus of my painting to be completely afrocentric for once and not sample too much from other world cultures.

You know that feeling you get when you go on vacation, take a long calming deep breath and gaze at some new vista? That's how it felt to paint this. For a few short hours every few days for over a month I imagined that I went to the future and lovingly painted an Emperor on her colony homeworld. There are many more afrofuturist paintings I'm eager to complete that have been sitting in my sketchbooks for over a decade.  Though I've squeezed out a few over the years, I was always too afraid to focus on making more for fear that 
having a portfolio full of black art wouldn't help me land work with companies or art directors I always wanted to work with.  I think I've proven that I can handle different flesh tones and genres with equal aplomb. For now on in my free time I'm painting the kind of stuff that would make my ten year old self giddy.