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Amazing Photographers: Kofi Paintsil

Charmaine Leong

Introducing to you Byrogue’s new series on amazing photographers and local heroes: In the first of this new series, we interviewed London-based photographer and creative director Kofi Paintsil.


Having exhibited around the world in Paris, Ghana, and Art Basel Miami, Paintsil has a noteworthy client list, including the BBC, Chanel, Channel 4 and Nike. Passionate about visual art, his mediums extend into illustration, fashion direction, set design and filmmaking.


How did you get started in photography? 

I first properly started pursuing photography while studying for my art foundation degree. I had initially wanted to develop in illustration, something I still wish to explore, but the stars aligned and it all made sense, and I began my journey with photography.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me to be honest: music, art, film, sculpture. Many times even a single word can catch my attention and build into a visual concept in my imagination.

How would you describe your style?

Photographically? Inherently classic, with a focus on light and shadow, texture and form, with clear but quiet strength and beauty via the subject. Clothing wise - black on black haha.


What was the last piece of clothing you bought? 

I like to collect different pendants, so I think my silver Africa pendant is the last thing I've added to my collection.

Which have been your top three exhibitions you have seen this year?

Firstly, two excellent ones at the Barbican - The first 'Basquiat -  Boom for Real' was incredibly inspiring, especially for such a short yet highly prolific career.

The second was 'Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins', including photographers such as Bruce Davidson and Larry Clark, exploring themes and portraying subcultures, outsiders, queer and those who exist in the margins, and the social attitudes they faced in changing times through photography.

The third isn't an exhibition but a documentary film of the late and great Alexander McQueen, both incredibly honest and sad and highly insightful and inspiring. In fact, my favourite past exhibition to date was the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A a few years ago.


Where do you think your industry is going, what does the future hold for Photography?

I think what's always important is for visual artists to have a clear point of view and aesthetic. Much of what inspired me as a budding photographer was work from the past which had a clear identity and level of creativity, which I still look upon today as a reminder of the level I wish to achieve as an visual artist.

Also more so than ever is for artists to create their own platforms and collectives. Seeing and connecting with other creatives is so much more accessible today via social media and is such a great tool to use. I love teamwork with like-minded hardworking creatives so am always looking to form new authentic collaborative bonds, and I'm excited to create and to contribute new amazing projects.

What do you think of London as a base? Do you think that your location has helped to influence and/or inspire your work?

As a born and raised Londoner, London is home and I will always love it. I think London is fantastic as it is one of the main diverse melting pot cities of the World with abundant resources and creative opportunities, including things like exhibitions and events. So much can be done here.

That being said, I have learnt personally how extremely important travel and exploring other parts of the world is. London can be so fast paced with elements of claustrophobia and exclusivity, so I am planning to travel and live/work internationally more next year.

What do you think is your best work so far? Why?

 Hard to pick one as they all have special elements to me, a step of progression, a lesson, and new idea to explore further. 

I'm really proud of the challenge of representing a diverse range of subjects within my vision/visual signature while staying true to each person's character and who they are individually.

What are some of the best and worst parts of being an artist?

The best is doing something you love and the privilege to do so, the ongoing learning and progression as an artist. External achievements and appreciation of your work are really cool too.

The worst while working alone can be staying continually motivated, organized and self-sufficient. Any feelings of self-doubt that can creep in, and having the resources to realise the thing you want to achieve.

What’s been your proudest moment so far?

There has been a few, like when I first exhibited at Art Basel Miami, but a sweet one that springs to mind was winning 'best new blood' at D&AD when I graduated, it was both totally unexpected and rewarding, and it validated all the hard work and commitment I had put into my projects.

What’s next for you? Are there more things you want to try? 

Definitely exploring motion and short film, and building on my illustration projects.

Tell us how you feel about Kanye West recent comments on slavery.


The era of slavery expressed such hatred to black people across the board, whether through the forcible movement of black people to be trapped and enslaved across an ocean, the social attitudes black people faced both before and after 'emancipation', all the way to the actual laws that were/are in place to directly hinder the progression of people of colour, that I don't understand how he could land upon it ever being a choice.

I think all I will focus on instead is how incredibly important it is for PoCs to know and explore their history and from there to build upon that knowledge, and to move forward in an equal united way. PoCs are responsible for so much innovation, development and inspiring others, especially well documented in the arts, so I am keen to see more talented and visionary people of colour rise to top rankings thus becoming even more capable of championing representation and inclusivity within both new and existing organisations.

Where is your favorite place in be world to eat? 

I'm easyyyyy, take me to Busaba for a good meal and calamariii lolll.

Where is the best place to shop? Please give us three tips.

I'm not a great lover of shopping haha, so tend to shop all over for things I like/need.

Three tips? Get what you feel good in, have a good stable of wardrobe basics that work for you and you can add to, try and find pieces things that show off and express your identity, I dress super simple so mine thing is accessories and necklace trinkets things :)

To see more of Kofi's work, follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and his own website.

Summer Hangouts: Mare Street Market

Charmaine Leong

If you haven’t visit Hackney’s recently opened Mare Street Market, you’re missing out.


Opened in March this year in a former Job Centre, the market houses a whole host of shops from food and drink spots, florists, vinyl stores to lifestyle pop-ups featuring independent fashion and jewellery designers. The market opens from 8am till late on weekdays, and from 9am on weekends.

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Set up more like a boutique mall than a street-food market, Mare Street Market is designed to fit the local East London vibe. Stalls in the Open Kitchen are set up in a grid-like fashion on an open plan space. With long rectangular tables filling the centre of the room and plenty of natural light cascading in during the day, it’s no wonder that this place is the chief go-to for many aspiring writers, students and workers. Worked a long day? No worries, there’s a bar by the side of the hall just a few steps away.

Open kitchen.png

In terms of the food, the market does not disappoint. Food writer and TV chef Gizzi Erskine, who is a huge advocate of innovative pop-ups and underground food scenes, took charge of Mare Street Market’s food offering. She runs the market’s main restaurant, The Dining Room, headed up by chef Tim Mawn (from Scott’s and Sexy Fish), which serves stunning wood-fired British food such as steak tartare and indian-inspired scotch eggs.

Described to be Brunswick House’s cooler East London sister, The Dining Room is furnished with unique chandeliers, pendant lights, stone busts and other bits and bobs from local antique dealers. Find a piece of furniture you like? You can buy it.

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Meanwhile, The Open Kitchen serves delicious modern cuisine. If you’re visiting for lunch expect to find jazzed up avocado and smoked salmon toasts. For lunch, the kitchen cooks up beautiful porcini pizzas, Wiltshire burrata salads, rotisserie chicken and wood-fired cauliflower with dandelion, grape, hazelnut and Gorgonzola buttermilk with hot sauces. If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely don’t want to miss their miso caramel banana split and piña colada sundae.

Other food concepts at the market include a raw food bar, a deli showcasing local produce and a coffee roastery called Flying Horse Coffee, named after the Flying Horse Inn founded in 1593 for travellers going through Hackney. According to Gizzi, Hackney really is the perfect place for a permanent market concept like this. "We have so many great ingredients in Hackney," she says, "I don't think people realise how much food is being produced in our area. There's Hackney Honey, Newton and Pott, the best smoked salmon from the Secret Smokehouse then there's great bakeries like Yeast and people like Lilli Vanilla and The Meringue Girls. So there's all this amazing food, but the only time you could ever get the chance to shop it all was on a market on a Saturday." This is something Mare Street Market definitely changes.

A particular stand out section of the market, which is sure to get a lot of use during the summer months, is the big outdoor terrace running along the side of the building. Fancy a mojito or a glass of watermelon juice? Not a problem at all. This summer the market will collaborate with Brooklyn Beer in the terrace, bringing barbeque into the alfresco dining area.


Responses from locals to the new Mare Street Market have been overwhelmingly positive. The market’s opening weekend was relentless, with food flying off the shelves and in need of constant restocks. Some visitors have described its Sunday lunch as the best they’ve ever had: rhubarb crumble puddings had to be eaten in silence to fully appreciate its deliciousness.

So what are your waiting for? Go check out Mare Street Market at 115 Mare Street, London E8 4RT.

Top 10 Summer Favourites

Charmaine Leong

With summer well underway, we have put together a list of our top 10 must-haves for this summer season.

1) Everyone needs a basic white tee. A lot of us probably have more than one, and often try to justify to ourselves that they are different (when they actually aren’t). Spice up a basic white tee and know that it is actually different with this one from Darling and Gold.

Second Female White Tee, £60 at    Darling and Gold

Second Female White Tee, £60 at Darling and Gold

2) Everyone needs a gorgeous swimsuit during the summer, and this piece from Alexandra Miro clearly meets that criterion. With sleek, clean lines and a sweet baby pink, this swimsuit is both modern and timeless. Pair it with dramatic palazzo trousers or a full skirt for the ultimate holiday vibe.

Grace Swimsuit by Alexandra Miro, £190 at  Harvey Nichols

Grace Swimsuit by Alexandra Miro, £190 at Harvey Nichols

3) It may be summer, but it still does get chilly in the nighttime. Stay warm and funky in this varsity jacket by Denisse Montaré. Although a jacket may not be the most summery item, its bright blues, greens and reds lighten it up and bring life and energy back into the look.

Love 1995 Varsity Jacket, £105 at   Concept Store Y

Love 1995 Varsity Jacket, £105 at Concept Store Y

4) The summer season will be full of plans and activities. Keep track of the time with this versatile watch from Flint Watches – refined enough to accompany you to formal events, and summery enough to be worn for casual day-to-day. This is also an incredibly high quality piece incorporating marble bezel from the Aravalli Mountains, goat leather and Swiss movement.

Aravalli Marble Sandstone Watch, £180 at    Concept Store Y

Aravalli Marble Sandstone Watch, £180 at Concept Store Y

5) What better way to spice up an outfit with a pair of statement earrings? Try this dangly art décor piece with wavy lines and bright colours, plated in 24 carat gold. These earrings would go well on holiday, or even if you’re just going for a nice dinner with friends and family. Designed exclusively by Milk Tooth in collaboration with artist Maria-Ines Gul.

Milk Tooth Cloud Earrings, £52 at    Concept Store Y

Milk Tooth Cloud Earrings, £52 at Concept Store Y

6) Get summer festival ready with this chic bumbag from Miu Miu. The perfect size to carry all your festival essentials, you’ll definitely be ready to party all day and night. This bumbag also comes in blue, green and pink, if red isn’t your thing.

Matelassé Leather Belt Bag, £1,080 at    Miu Miu

Matelassé Leather Belt Bag, £1,080 at Miu Miu

7) Throw a modern twist onto a classic shoe with this pair of Converse trainers. Part of Converse x MadeMe’s collection, this pair One Star Converses mixes MadeMe’s cool girl style with the laidback street vibe Converse is known for. Featuring an olive green suede upper and platform sole, these trainers are definitely a pair to get your hands on.

Converse x MadeMe One Star Platform (Green), £90 at    Dover Street Market

Converse x MadeMe One Star Platform (Green), £90 at Dover Street Market

8) Add some glimmer and shine to your summer outfits with these rings from Fotini Psarouli. A masterful jewellery maker, Psarouli experiments with metals and creates elegant jewellery by hand. Made out of 14 carat gold, these high quality hand candies will be a long-lasting staple in your wardrobe.

Fotini Psarouli Rings starting from £325, at    Kabiri

Fotini Psarouli Rings starting from £325, at Kabiri

9) Nike has long stayed ahead of the trainer game by constantly reinventing itself. Get a pair of trainers unique to yourself by personalising your own artwork on these Nike Force shoes. Paired with a cute sundress for the summer season, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.

Art Nike Force, £200 at    Marr LDN

Art Nike Force, £200 at Marr LDN

10) What would any summer favourites list be without any cute swimwear? Turn heads this season with this glitter bikini set from Danish brand Becksondergaard. Whether worn at the pool, beach or at the skate park (with roller skates of course), this bikini set will keep you looking cute and fresh all summer.

Get the Becksondergaard Orchid Bloom Bikini Top, £36,    here    and Bottom, £36,    here   , at AIDA

Get the Becksondergaard Orchid Bloom Bikini Top, £36, here and Bottom, £36, here, at AIDA