To celebrate Black History Month this year, we asked Sowl Studios for help to create two bundles featuring the best of Daz’s Black women, men, and hairstyles. Working with them has been an absolute dream, and we’re excited to interview Solomon W. Jagwe, Co-Founder of Sowl Studios, Creator and Director of The Adventures of Nkoza & Nankya.
How did you get involved in art?
My art journey began back in Uganda (East Africa), deep in the Masaka countryside. My mom tells me that even at the age of 3, I was always creating something with twigs and fiber. I love nature and wildlife, which I often use to draw my inspiration from when I create art. A friend of mine at Makonzi boarding school in Uganda knew how to draw horses very well. I was so amazed, so I used to trade half my posho lunch with him so he could teach me how to draw a horse after classes. That’s how much I wanted to get better at drawing different creatures and the world around me.
Have you previously worked with Daz? What do you think of it?
Yes, I have been a long-time user of Daz and have used content from the Daz 3D marketplace to create a couple of short animated Sci-Fi short films. I think the Daz 3D models are beautifully done. A hat off to all the artists who contribute to the characters, props, and environments. It’s also awesome that Daz Studio is free for use.
How did this collaboration with Daz come to be? What advice would you give others who want to collaborate with us?
The Daz 3D team reached out to me after sharing with them several videos I had done, showcasing the different DAZ 3D content I was using to help others get some insight on how to tell their stories using Daz content during this period of the pandemic. I think focusing on telling your own story and sharing it is a great way to get noticed and for opportunities to open up.
Thank you again for helping Daz curate our Black History Month bundles. Can you talk about how you chose it?
I think it is important for Africans to have representation in the animation industry, so to see that there are more and more Afrocentric characters showing up in the Daz 3D marketplace is a good step in that direction. For small teams who have ideas and wish to quickly bring their Afrocentric stories to life, it is important for there to be a variety of characters, hair, and clothing that reflects that Afrocentric background. The list that I picked reflects the diversity, both for black female and male characters and hair. We definitely need more options, but those selections are a good start for others to know what’s available in the library.
Can you tell us about your African and Ugandan roots and their importance to you?
My wife is African American, and I am Ugandan. Our kids were born in the USA, so they have a multiracial background. Our goal from the start has been to find a way to teach them about their African roots and their native languages. My wife is a teacher, so we are using her expertise and my art background to make the Nkoza and Nankya app and series an Edutainment experience: and make it fun for kids to learn about their rich and diverse cultural heritage.
What inspired you to create your studio and to do what you do?
My wife and I have been on a quest to help fellow African parents and their kids in the diaspora with a tool to help them learn more about their cultural heritage and languages. We are using Sowl Studios to produce animated content for the Nkoza and Nankya app to achieve that goal.
Would you care to talk a little more about your Nkoza and Nankya app?
The Nkoza and Nankya app features Ugandan/African language lessons, Games, Songs, Stories, and Videos designed to help parents and kids share a fun experience of learning about Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, folktales, singalongs, and languages. We are starting with Luganda and Swahili, and as we grow, we will continue to add more languages. The app is available on the iOS app store, Amazon app store, and Google Play Store.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on and why?
Nkoza and Nankya is definitely my favorite project. It has touched and helped so many parents and children both here in the diaspora and back home in Uganda. During this pandemic and lockdown period, we have received so many messages from parents sharing videos of their kids singing along to the animations in the app and practicing the language lessons. It’s so encouraging to see the impact and to know we are building a legacy for current and future generations.
What advice do you give to other entrepreneurs?
I think it’s very important to provide a product through your business that you and your team are passionate about and that solves a societal need. Pursue making a difference in people’s lives, and the financial benefits will follow. Build a culture that cares about the needs of others, and definitely take care of the needs of your team, without whom you wouldn’t have a product.
What does Black History Month mean to you? Or why is it important to you?
Black history month or African American History Month offers us an opportunity to commemorate and celebrate African Americans who have paved the way so we as Africans could have a seat at the table of American society. We can learn from their history of overcoming adversity and the struggles they went through so we could have representation.
How would you suggest our customers and published artists celebrate and honor Black History Month?
I think it is important to take a moment to actually read about the African American struggle. Endeavor to understand why African Americans say their lives matter and support the efforts that make it possible for them to tell their stories. I would also call for the addition of more Afrocentric content in the Daz 3D Marketplace: More Afrocentric hair, clothing, environments, characters, and props.
What do you think of the new concept of Black Futures Month? And how will your mission at Sowl Studios help Black youth and the future?
I think that there are a number of storytellers who are looking for content with an Afrocentric background. My hope is that seeing a list of what’s on the Daz 3D marketplace will open their eyes to what’s possible. It might even inspire those with the ability to create them to see that there is a need for that type of content. I look forward to seeing Afrofuturistic projects and short film ideas coming to fruition out of this effort.
What are your dreams for the future?
My dream is to see my fellow African American and African storytellers realize their dreams and tell their stories, with those stories becoming mainstream. I also look forward to creating more animated content to help parents and kids around the world celebrate and appreciate their rich and diverse African cultural heritage.
Solomon, thank you for taking the time to work with us and share your vision. Your story is amazing, and we hope that other creators, especially those underrepresented in this industry and the media, are inspired to share their stories.
Check out Sowl Studios and the awesome work they’ve done.