Originating nearly 500 years ago, illustrations are a form of art interpretation or visual explanation of a concept, text or process. It differs from the regular art pieces that we are accustomed to in the sense that it is the most appropriate, or the easiest type of art to be published along side media such as posters, magazines, books and teaching materials.
Although illustrations first surfaced in the medieval ages, in the 1600s Japan saw the origination of Ukiyo-e, who became famous for his traditional folk tale renditions. While African Illustration has been around for a few years, the market is a territory that is extremely open for exploration.
Africa is blessed with talented individuals who are channelling their creativity to the art of illustration. This editorial casts the spotlight on three of these illustrators – Obinna Omeruo, Stephanie Unaeze and Peniel Enchill.
Obinna describes himself as “A simple colour loving entrepreneur”. Although his illustrations are far from “simple”, his work exudes a certain sense of class and grace that sets him aside from others.
As the grandson of an artist, Obinna credits the intricacy of his work to growing up in a stylish household, as he began drawing at a very young age. The University of Lagos MSC graduate explains, “ I took it up professionally in 2010 because I never ever wanted to use the line, “ I used to draw”.
The Lagos indigene’s work includes extremely detailed pieces inspired by the Vlisco hollandaise fabric company, as well as Lisa Folawiyo’s designs. The most interesting feature about his work, which evidently stands out, is the detailing in the fabrics of his illustrations.
Obinna’s work is timeless, with every planned stroke of dark and light pencil marks as well as colours, the illustrator brings fashion to life on paper.
Stephanie’s illustrations stand out in its individuality as each piece has a unique edifying element to them. Coming across her work, I had imagined walking into an animated Afrocentric dream.
The Nigerian, self-taught artist fell in love with art while studying computer sciences in the University of Science and Technology in Ghana. According to Stephanie, her inspiration is derived from her cultural influences. “I draw a lot from my experiences when it comes to creating my pieces, I feel like real emotion makes for honest and relatable art.”
As most illustrators focus on more realistic portraits, I was particularly drawn the whimsical vibe, which is a rare feature in Nigerian art illustrations. Stephanie’s work sets a new pace for modern day artistry as she unveils her 2017 plans, to turn her illustrations into what she calls “living art”, which is essential functional art for your homes.