Salone Artists | Fatu Gassama

Fatu Gassama is a greeting card designer, jeweler, and dressmaker.  Sewa News chatted with her on Facebook this weekend.

Fatu Gassama: I went to Holy Rosary Secondary School in Kenema, Sierra Leone from 1978 to 1982/83. I graduated from Fourah Bay College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science Honors in Zoology. I lived with my parents and siblings in Brookfields. Madongo Town.

ld: I first came across a Christmas card designed by you more than twenty years ago.

FG: The card "Api Krismes!" was designed on a table tennis table overlooking a stream in Madongo Town, with sunshine and a tropical breeze blowing the palm trees.

ld:How long have you been doing graphic design?

FG:I won a library drawing competition when I was eight and got my picture in the local newspaper. So almost forty years.

ld:Do you remember who was running the competition and which paper published your work? What did you draw? Where did you get your inspiration?

FG:It was a local library in Dundee, Scotland. My Dad taught me how to draw when I was four. I love to observe people and nature and listening to music; must have been how I was inspired.

ld:Was drawing your father's hobby? 

FG: No. 

ld: What did he do for work?

FG: He's an obstetrician and gynecologist. I have cousins on both sides of my family who are artistic. I remember holidays where they would have competitions for who could draw the sportiest cars.

ld:Why cars?

FG:Boys and their toys.

ld:How did you go pro from amateur?

FG: went to secondary school and university in Sierra Leone. I got a distinction in GCE O'Level Art and a few more competitions in sixth form. At university, I drew birthday cards and made posters for pocket money. Shout out to Hassan Arouni who encouraged me to do posters. 

My friend Jessie Logan and I decided to make Christmas cards, my first after university. And the rest is history.

ld:What have been some of the biggest challenges?

FD:One of the major challenges is inspiration. I draw and make up verses in English and Krio. Translating one language into the other and vice versa can be difficult especially getting the nuances correct.

My greatest win has been always having friends and family who have constantly supported me in my many projects. I now make jewelry and sew as well as designing cards. Being a positive person I tend not to think of obstacles as losses but opportunities to try again or come up with a different plan.

This card is one of the Krio kad series. The title, "Kalbas katakata", refers to the sound a calabash (gourd) makes when mother is cooking. "Katakata" is a sound used to describe a scuffle. 
I drew this a few years ago. The card has an English translation on the back. It's available to buy on my Etsy shop. If you type in "Yazidu Designs" in you search engine the link for my shop comes up.

This is me wearing a top I designed and sewed. It's never too late to chase your dreams.



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