I was going through some old files and came across this short interview I did with Shop In Lagos in late 2015. Shop In Lagos was a fashion and lifestyle retail brand aimed at the youth demographic in Nigeria. It was also a platform for empowering creatives.
Hello, Tomi! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
I best describe myself as a multidisciplinary designer because I have hands-on experience working on projects related to graphics, web, branding, and illustration. I build brands, surf the net, and create lots of side projects.
When did you first find yourself seriously getting into graphic illustration?
I had always loved art, I drew a lot when I was much younger, so finding out about Adobe Illustrator and the magic it could perform was like a new dawn to me. I decided to learn how to use it (especially the pen and pathfinder tools) and experimented a lot with it till I could master it.
Your illustrations of famous Nigerian buildings are quite minimalistic. What brought about the inspiration?
I don’t know, but I have this thing for buildings and objects with simple or complex shapes and colors. I was just practicing how to use Illustrator and seeing that I could experiment with one building, motivated me to research more and recreate them. View Project
What was your process like when you were creating these illustrations? Are you constantly on the lookout for buildings or landmarks?
It was quite tough and easy at the same time, though, because most of these buildings were not properly showcased on the net, and easy because Google helped a lot. So I had to open lots of tabs to see which picture showed the best view in which I could trace them out in a minimal way. I’m not constantly on the lookout for buildings. Because of this project, I got to know some of these buildings.
Which amongst these images is your favorite, and why?
My best? This is a tough one, but I like the buildings in Canaanland. The Faith Tabernacle and Covenant University’s Senate Building, Canaanland, are beautiful places to view.
Are there any themes or ideas that you’re always drawn to when illustrating?
Yes, there are. I try to showcase my work in the very simplest form or manner it can be, and I try to pay attention to details because they count.
How has your work changed in the past few years since you started?
I feel I’ve improved. My works are a testimony to that fact. From both freelance and studio experience, I’ve had the privilege of working on a variety of projects that have helped me see the practice of design in a whole new way. All I knew before was to edit pictures in Picasa and Photoshop, but a lot has changed now. I also joined lots of design communities to view other people’s
work and learn one or two things from them.
What’s been the nicest thing someone has said about your illustrations, something that made you feel like they really “got it”?
I look up to a creative who saw my work and told me “I will go far.” I think that alone is fulfilling.
When you’re feeling uninspired, is there anything you like to do to try and jumpstart the creative process?
I visit Behance (be.net), Dribbble (dribbble.com), Tumblr (tumblr.com), Instagram, and other photo-centered or creative digital platforms for new ways to do things, I can pick something from someone else’s work and redefine it into a whole new project. I know how to steal like an artist. Most of the time, I don’t do anything; the idea just bumps into my head.
What’s your proudest moment as a visual artist?
Getting paid for something I learned online.