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Acclaimed Ethiopian-Norwegian visual artist Olana Janfa first picked up a paintbrush in 2018. In just a few short years, entirely self taught, Olana has established an instantly recognisable presence locally and internationally with his unique style of self-expression and playful perspective on everything from politics to privilege and pop culture.

2024 marks Olana’s musical debut, diving  deep into his passion for Jamaican music to craft a lyrical sound that represents a fitting sonic translation of his distinctive visual aesthetic. His joyous single ‘Skillful Man’ shines a light on the working class and the everyday deeds that keep the world turning; offering an upbeat nod to the unheralded ‘skillful people’ who earn their living in factories, kitchens and taxis.

Produced by Swick (M.I.A, Diplo, Tkay Maidza), the track journeys through Olana’s richly nuanced worldview with a distinctive offbeat reggae sound that captures his fearless creative approach. Olana shares, “Music has always been a big part of the art that I make – reggae, hip hop and afrobeat lyrics have often been a starting place for my works. Sometimes just one line is enough to inspire a new painting.” 

As a visual artist, Olana deftly positions sharp cultural commentary and satire alongside his signature bold imagery, emerging as a unique new voice on the Australian art scene. His work has appeared across large-scale murals, book illustration, fashion collaborations and creative projects with names including Nike, Nicholas Daley, NGV, SBS and more. Along the way, he’s garnered widespread local and international media recognition with outlets including Vogue UK, Vogue Living, It’s Nice That, Hypebeast, ABC TV, SBS Radio, Broadsheet, The Design Files, The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Design Review and Fashion Journal, among others.

Olana shares, “Art connected me strongly with my culture and allowed me to communicate many ideas and experiences in ways that my broken English couldn’t. 

Art is how I express my identity; the things I find funny; the things that are important to me. I think my broken English makes it even more beautiful.”

Photo by Sarah Panell