Richard and Tyrone are two young Jamaicans who inspire me. Sail on!

These are complicated and indeed challenging times for young people. All kinds of clichés are trotted out about the youth being “our future.” But as former President Barack Obama – who used to talk a great deal about the future in his campaigning – pointed out, simply put:

The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.

Setting platitudes about “success” aside (success is all too often measured by Instagram “likes” and popularity contests) I confess I am really moved by the work of two young Jamaican men: entrepreneur Tyrone Wilson and artist Richard Nattoo. Not only by their work, which is astounding; I mean rather that I admire them for where they have reached, where they are, and where they are potentially going. And for who they are.

I have had the good fortune to interview both Tyrone and Richard, in recent years. I first met Tyrone when he was starting to build his business (eMedia Interactive) at the University of Technology’s Technology Innovation Centre, back in 2014 – over eight years ago. He insisted then that he was not a “tech entrepreneur”; in fact, his creativity knows no bounds. He has that mindset. So much water has passed under the bridge since then, and I have been following his journey. When we first met, Tyrone was a serious 22-year-old; now, I see him smiling more often nowadays, despite (or perhaps because of) enduring turbulent times during the COVID-19 period. He is now President and CEO of iCreate Institute, which aims to be the island’s largest digital training and marketing entity.

So, iCreate more than doubled its profit in the second quarter of this year ending in June. Tyrone has been seizing opportunities as they come along, acquiring and merging, in the rather confusing post-COVID era. He is creating a group of companies. On August 25, he announced the acquisition of an outdoor media company, Visual Vibe, and has brought an Irishman on board, Declan Tully.

Good to see these smiles: Declan Tully, CEO of Visual Vibe (left), with Tyrone Wilson, at iCreate’s extraordinary general meeting on August 25.

I decided to track artist Richard Nattoo down after being a great admirer of his work for a while. I fell in love with his fluid, luminous watercolours of animals and birds: elusive foxes, elegant peacocks, and best of all, solemn whales. In each painting, he captured the character of the animal with a delicate touch. Then, I realised that there was much more flowing from his creative mind. He began to explore psychology (delving into Carl Jung), people, mood, darkness. I wanted to talk to him some more, so I interviewed him some six months or so ago for Global Voices, and found out where this wellspring of light, dark, and vibrant colour came from. How did Richard start? By spinning vivid designs (decals) for the buses he traveled on from Spanish Town to high school in Kingston. That was just the start. Please read my interview with Richard here.

Since we last spoke, Richard hasn’t stopped. He has been doing some beautiful, perfect, precise architectural photography. You can find more of his art on his website here.

Richard now has a topknot.

Now, Richard is celebrating the fact that, after giving up his “9 to 5” just last year and dedicating himself to his craft, he has been selected for a Noldor Residency and Fellowship Programme at the Institute Museum of Ghana.

Both young men have several qualities in common – two quite rare characteristics in the current world of “hype” and self-promotion: humility, and a generosity of spirit. When I say humility, I don’t mean false modesty; and by generosity, I do not of course mean that they are giving their money away! However, there is an openness, an ability to embrace change, new ideas, and new people and partners along the way. It is a conscious effort, I know. It’s an opening of the mind.

Added to that is a dash of boldness – a kind of fearless “Yes We Can” mentality that President Obama would be proud of. Richard concluded his interview with me thus: “I have some more crazy ideas.” I know that Tyrone does too. They are setting about implementing them.

And so, I would like to say to Tyrone and Richard (nautically speaking): Set your course. Sail on! But don’t be afraid to change your tack if the wind blows a different way. That is Life! Embrace it.

You will reach the far shore.

A sailboat in St. George’s harbor, Grenada. (My photo)

6 thoughts on “Richard and Tyrone are two young Jamaicans who inspire me. Sail on!

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