Meet the artist: Diana Ejaita

Art and culture hold great potential to move us. A painting can bring us joy, a song can lift us up, a film can connect us to new characters and stories. An encounter with a work of art is a deeply human experience, both personal and universal.

At Little Sun, we believe in the power of the arts to remind us that creating a thriving future for all of us is possible. That’s why we’re investing in new culture programs, engaging creative voices to craft new narratives about renewable energy. Our aim is simple: We want to shift the focus of the climate change conversation from fear into feeling, hope, and action. 

This is also the goal of our most recent campaign, Reach for the Sun — to present solar power for what it really is — an unstoppable force for good, and inspire and ignite the imagination of everyone involved to achieve a zero-carbon world by 2040. And what better way to do this than partnering with one of the most talented artists we know, Diana Ejaita? 

Diana Ejaita’s striking illustrations garnered worldwide attention after being featured in publications, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Economist. We caught up with Diana in her studio in Berlin, to discuss her work on Little Sun’s new campaign, Reach for the Sun: Ten Steps to Creating a Solar Powered World, the power of light for artists, and how she sees the artist’s role in driving social change.

LS: How did you begin to envision the Reach for the Sun artwork and narrative?

It was pretty interesting to organize the project and to explore how the story would evolve. Charlotte and I worked closely throughout the production process, beginning with coming together around the essence of the project and discussing possible avenues of inspiration and exploration. We all have a very close relationship with the sun even if we are not realizing it on a day-to-day basis, that was something important to bring to life. We had this idea about the sun traveling throughout the narration to show the different ways in which it can change our system.  We also explored different ways to depict the sun as a symbol, whilst mapping out how to visualize each step.  Bringing movement to my work with gifs was a first, so I’m really pleased it worked!

Diana’s work has appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Economist. Photo by Little Sun.

LS: How do you balance digital and more organic ways of creating work?

I am quite a digitalized person at the moment. I used to be much more organic, getting my hands dirty with a lot of silk screen printing. At the end of the day, I always try to have a healthy balance between the analog and the digital world. 

LS: What kind of input is inspiring to you as an artist?

I enjoy my creative process and my loneliness — I’m very protective of it. I have these extreme moments of working a lot in my studio in Berlin — this is the place where I collect ideas, where I focus and concentrate. 

Of course, I need time outdoors as well. I enjoy nature and go to the woods a lot. I’m luckily living next to the canal in Berlin at the moment, so this helps my brain to breathe, in and out. 

Lately, I’m also going often to Nigeria, and soon to Burkina Faso, then Angola and Nigeria. When I go out, I really go out and get lost. That’s the moment when I get inspired.

LS: Do you feel a difference in what kind of work you’re producing depending on where you’re living?

I don’t think it makes a difference. At the moment, I’m mostly working on commissions and assignments, which are very cool projects and initiatives. But when I work on my personal projects, the location doesn’t change my intentions or what I want to express. I think everything is pretty much connected and the way I move in the world is very uniform. 

LS: Of course at Little Sun, we celebrate the idea of connectedness, that we are “Connected by the Sun,” and we can all help bring solar power to the world. Do you think about your artwork connecting people? Is it exciting to think about your work being seen so far and wide?

Yes, definitely. I’ve never been attracted by the elitist side of the art world. It has always felt unfair and didn’t make sense to me. So even this choice that I made at the beginning of my career about using printing techniques like silkscreen and reproducing things was my way of saying: You can create art that is affordable and available to people.

At the moment, I’m working with well-known magazines, and it’s incredible; I’m very lucky to have this. It feels like we are all interconnected, and even if I don’t like the digital approach that much, it allows us to be part of something bigger, kind of a big body moving together.

Diana is a Berlin-based illustrator and textile designer. Video by Little Sun.

LS: Was it always important to you that your art feels part of a bigger thing? How do you see the role of the artist in movements for change?

Art is a powerful tool to make people question things. Art comes from a space of freedom and offers limitless possibilities. It also helps the person to get out of their own track and walk in a different rhythm to see how it feels. You have the choice then to see differently, and work with that rhythm or change it. What I like about art is that it offers multiple ways of seeing or doing things.

LS: What is the role of light for the artist?

I need light if I want to draw. We all need it because, without it, you can’t really do much, right? The problem is that there are many places in the world where having light is a luxury. 

The situation in Lagos, for example, or other Nigerian cities is not the same for everyone. You would go to rich areas and you would take for granted that light is simply there. The apartment we rent now is located in another area, however, and in just one day we can have five blackouts and then people have to turn on the generator. And you realize there are so many unnecessary steps to get light and be able to go on with your life. That’s incredible! It makes you wonder why in such a country where there is so much sun all the time, there’s nothing like solar power?

And then the anger comes because you also wonder, “Why are those people in the government in Nigeria not investing money into that? Of course, it’s about interest and profit. But I hope someone will finally tell them, “Hey, you can make profit out of this as well!”

LS: What does it mean to you to Reach for the Sun?

The sun is our life force; it enables us to thrive. We all need light. We all need the sun. Without it, there is nothing. So, my hope is that creatives across the world will join us to tell the story of its powerful force for good. 

Excited to join in Reach for the Sun? Head over to our digital toolkit, choose the social media platform you use most often, and download the artwork. And voila! You’re now fully equipped to share your passion for solar with your family and friends.