Originally from Angers in France, Damien first visited Hackney in the ‘90s before moving to the East End in 2002. “I moved to Dalston in 2007 because I found a cheap warehouse that I’ve since converted into a studio with two friends. I like the energy of Ridley Road, the melting pot”. Working freelance as a graphic designer and art director, he is commissioned by various art and fashion companies and creates bespoke illustrations for magazines and advertising agencies. He also exhibits his illustrations in galleries and has recently started to publish the work of 5 upcoming female photographers. At Afrique Fabrics he has painted strong graphic faces onto the windows, around and through which the bright colours of the fabrics inside can be seen. “It’s my attempt to catch the passer by’s eye and alert them to this shop full of colour”, he says.
134 Kingsland High Street
Ahmed Yakubu rented a shop around the corner on Ridley Road for 6 years before opening here 8 years ago. Born in Ghana, he came to the UK in 1986 and says he feels that Dalston has lost some of its character over the past 5 years. “People used to play live music on Ridley Road and there would be dancing in the market on Saturdays and Sundays, but now you need a license just to play music there so no one does.” He’s worried that having so many pound shops and butchers shops in a small area is unsustainable.