A Tale of Two Comic Artists
As far as comic artists come and go, the thirst to create is one thing they all share in common. It is the mental alarm that rouses them at night when lucid dreams have been set loose and reality is at bay. It is a fever – one that can only be cured temporarily.
Ubiomo Chinedu Ogheneroh is one such artist whose work is steadily gaining him much acclaim and recognition in Nigerian comic art circles. He is a talented 2-D illustrator, graphics designer, writer and poet. His most recent project titled ‘Facial Series’ is based on the dying art of body beautification – the uli body and facial dye of the Igbo.
Not to be confused with modern day cosmetics, the uli traditional drawings, once the norm, is presently used mostly by cultural troupes or actresses depicting traditional Igbo women.
Born on May 19, 1993, Ogheneroh who hails from Otor-Iyede in Delta State, is a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. While studying here, he fell in love with uli. This ancient but waning art of tattooing by the Igbo women inspired him to commence work on his ‘Facial Series’ project, which gave birth to what he calls “Kpuri art” – the integration of patterns, lines, geometric shapes and African symbology. Kpuri art is based on beautifully patterned women’s faces because Ogheneroh believes the face is the first point of call when assessing beauty. His choice of blue eyes for his African comic models has often come under heavy scrutiny, to which he responds:
Blue is strongly associated with tranquillity and calmness and I used the cool colour in the illustrations because of what it portrays. It symbolises trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence and faith, which are some of the characteristics of the African woman.
It is probable that Ogheneroh’s work may yet inspire the use of uli drawings by Nigerian women for day-to-day fashion needs. This ‘Facial Series’ has certainly been a success, and we can expect more Kpuri art from him in future.
Ayooluwa Elisha Nihinlola isn’t far removed from Ubiomo Ogheneroh when it comes to appreciating Nigerian relics and heritage. Where the latter has set his creative juices to work on popularising a dying art, Nihinlola’s recent work has been directed towards embellishing the legends of selected Nigerian entertainment icons.
Like his counterpart, Nihinlola’s art is captivating, excitable and at the same time entertaining. His foray into computer graphics began as a budding art enthusiast during his first year in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Obafemi Awolowo University. Hours spent watching video tutorials and viewing the work of other Nigerian graphics artists started to pay off when he began to gain likes and glowing comments online. This spurred him on and as early as 2009, he became the in-house graphics person at the Baptist student fellowship he attended while at the university. He went on to work as an illustrator for a blog called Yimucentral and later, as a creative executive at Rise Networks in 2013.
Nihinlola also spent some time as video editor for the Nigerian Television Authority in Ekiti before moving on to his current position as head of graphics design at Gamsole – a gaming company whose games have been downloaded in over 190 countries from around the world. Also to his credit, Nihinlola was part of a team of designers who developed GidiRun (a 3-D mobile game) for MTN Nigeria’s Game+ platform.
His latest effort is a 48-page illustration of Nollywood legends that is at the moment making waves on the digisphere. According to him, the comic photobook, which also includes short bios of the movie icons, is designed to immortalize and project the legacies of these legendary actors and actresses.
With talented artists such as Ubiomo Ogheneroh and Ayooluwa Nihinlola emerging especially during this economic recession, we can only hope that their creativity continues to flow unbridled.