This is a collection of African mask drawings inspired by African tribal art. African masks are magical and one of the most powerful symbol of ancient African ancestors. Are you looking for African masks and African line art for inspiration? These artworks are part of an art series created to represent a contemporary approach to traditional African mask art.

Last Updated: March 16, 2019
Category: Arts and Entertainment

Something Magical

There is something magical about any tribal mask you encounter as a viewer. Masks are mostly always a symbolic representation of something mystical for many cultures.

The African tribal masks you will see on this page were created to be magical and rich for the culture of Africa.

Creation of The African Mask Drawings
Kenal Louis

Hi, My name is Kenal Louis. I am a traditional artist and digital illustrator. 

Tools I used to create this drawings:

Paper - Bristol Board 9x12in vellum paper
Ink Pen - Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

The following African mask drawings were influenced by traditional tribal mask from different African cultures. None of the drawings are copies of these different cultures masks.

The drawings of the African masks are influenced by some of their shapes as well as various elements that create the powerful ancestral art from Africa. When I created the first four masks I didn't realize how well people would react to them.

It seems that something is magical and captivating with the African mask. There is this sense of mystery almost as if these abstract faces are real. My guess is the fact that it is not a common shape or faces that people sees every day.

There is this deep respect for the African tribal art. I am Haitian and an even in Haiti we have certain art that resembles African culture. Whether these artworks are carved in wood or treated with welded metal they still capture the essence of African roots.

Unfamiliarity of the mask I believe it is one of the key aspect that makes them so well received. Art and its term have evolved tremendously over the years. One simply cannot define art with one word anymore or being one style. Art itself has transitioned and it is more diverse than ever.

The First Four African Masks

The first four mask drawings were the beginning stage of the experiment I was conducting creatively. I view every artwork that I create as an experiment. I believe every artwork I create is a successful work simply because I completed them.

The First African Mask Drawing

The Second African Mask Drawing

Some artist find it hard to complete art because they get frustrated with the process and  the process should not be that difficult it should flow naturally. So, whenever I start a project or a drawing or painting my goal is to complete it. I get to a point where I think the artwork is done and I call it done. I don't over analyze or over think about what I could change or what I should change.

Because there is already an abundance of thoughts and creative ideas flowing in my mind that I just want to get out of my head. If I was to get caught up in perfecting one art piece I would never create the amount of drawings or artwork that I do. I would most likely be stuck on one artwork. In a way it's like having writers block as an artist if you are unable to complete one piece of art before moving on to the next.

Me at the age of 4

Me at the age of 4

Haitian Art and Culture

As a child growing up in Haiti and I was always fascinated by the street art Haitians created. Haitian style of art originates from African heritage and African art. In the past I haven't created much art based on my own culture and Haitian heritage.

However this year I encountered a creative entrepreneur and mentor called Prof. G. He has this awesome YouTube channel where he shares very powerful and insightful thoughts about how to excel, grow, and succeed as a creative.

After watching his videos on his channel where he talks about being a creative multi, I was inspired. Since then I started creating these African tribal mask drawings. The drawings although they are deeply influenced by the route of African culture, my own heritage is Haitian. Haiti is a very small country in the Caribbean which shares a land with the Dominican Republic.

In 1804 Haiti became the first black African country that was colonized by the French to liberate itself from slavery. Growing up, once in a while I would draw in the same manner and style I saw that other Haitian artists make art.

Since moving to the United States I got influenced by the school system in the state as well as the art styles that I came across. Throughout my journey, I've learned and developed my own creative direction. I finally found my signature style for the artworks that I create.

The Second Set of African Mask Drawings

Creating this next set of the African masks, I wanted to push the boundaries a little bit with the shapes. I wanted to challenge myself to create each mask as a distinct illustration of their own.

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

In the second set of the African mask drawings I created these four. As I created these mask I continued to add more elements and experiment different ways with the line movement in each one. Further on, as I progressed in the series I saw the mask slightly become a bit more organic and realistic in their shape.

If you know anything about doodling you'll know that a lot of what's considered doodling is done on a subconscious level. Also there is a difference between doodling and drawing.

Whenever I am creating these the line drawings my frame of thought and mindset is the same way. For a long time I referred to them as subconscious line art. This was before I even realize what I am even meant by this idea.

The Goal Behind The African Masks Artworks

My goal is to create 100 of these masks. Maybe once I reach that many drawings I will host an exhibition to showcase the mask in a gallery environment. All of the masks so far are drawn on a 9 x 12" Bristol board paper. The medium which are used to create the drawings is a Faber-Castell fine tip in brush pen. Since I started drawing and upon me first discovering these pens I created a lot of art in pencil.

Today, if I plan to draw anything with a traditional medium preferably it is going to be with an ink pen on paper. I grew up practicing a lot with lead pencils. Over the years I got away from drawing with pencil because I thought trying with ink pens and creating digital art was a quicker way to bring all of these ideas that I have in mind out. There was also this pet-peeve of erasing that came to bother me for a while.

Once in a while I will still use pencils to sketch in my drawing journals quick thumbnail drawings. I will also use the pencil to softly outline certain elements and the art composition that I create.

What Do The African Masks Represent?

Who found inspiration from African tribal art?

Pablo Picaso:

Did you know that Pablo Picasso was inspired by African tribal art? His signature style abstract art which evolved to cubism sparks from an encounter he had after seeing a collection of African mask. In the later part of his life as he was drawing near 60 to 70 years old he started creating ceramic art inspired by African culture.

Picasso created his own versions of African mask and ceramic form which are collected throughout the world today. If you look at the curvature of the nose or lips and eyes in some of his artwork you can sort of distinguish these inspirations. There must have been something magical about his encounter with the African mask that he saw the spark this creative direction in him.

Jean-Michel Basquiat:

Jean-Michel Basquiat was another artist I found out was inspired by African culture and found a fascination with African mask as well. Similar to me he was of Haitian descent. His father was Haitian and his mother was Dominican. He is one the most famed for the art movement of neo-expressionism. Another sub-genre in art was created in the 80s by him.

Contemporary forms of art had already multiple genres developed, but obviously there was still room for the birth of another style which he became wildly known for. Basquiat did not create a lot of art inspired by his Haitian background, but he does have two signature pieces where his interest in Haitian tradition is seen.

The Last Four African Masks

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

African Mask Drawing

Mask In The Art:

Before I started the series of African mask drawings I created these two illustrations with masks in them. I incorporated some African masks in the composition of these two digital paintings.  

The art pieces are more symbolic with these elements in it. As a notice I am always thinking of ways to innovate the artworks that I produce. The mask present their guardians and heritage, which is the root of their being.

The Purpose of The African Masks Art Series

Every artwork has a purpose. Art without a purpose is not art. Artist who created and artwork put the emotion into it. I am starting to understand more and more how important the process of creating is. When you take time to reflect on what you are creating it even pushes you to develop yourself in the process.

Art changes the world. You can look at it from the aspect of advertisement, propaganda, and branding. All three of these things mostly always include art. Companies pay a lot of money for their advertising and marketing. Without great visual aesthetics these two things would fail. So yes art change the world.

Pablo Picasso who I referred to earlier is considered to have impacted the art world the most during and after his lifetime. His work did not only influence and inspire other artist, but his style also is attributed to have influence the Art Deco period. Picasso also influenced industries from fashion to architecture this signature style of cubism innovated art direction. Truly, this should be a goal of every ambitious artist.

African Mask
African Mask
African Mask

African Tribal Masks: Their Representation

In some African countries the mask represents their ancestors who founded their village. Others believe the masks represent African gods. My belief is that the masks represent angels. Not all angels are said to look like us, like humans. Some look like animals and others look like what we would call monsters. Regardless I find it fascinating how deep the history and power masks represent.

African gods are not as popularized as the Greek and Roman gods. However they do exist. For certain African countries and cultures they believe they had gods of the elements like fire, water and so on.

The African Mask Artworks Available For Sale

All of the African mask drawings are available for sale. If interested in purchasing any of the mask, send me an email inquiry by visiting the contact page to reach out. You can also connect with me on my Instagram page, which I am very active on.

Kenal Louis - The Artist
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