This month, for the magazine cover, Sef Adeola illustrated queer couples. He told me he wasn’t always liberal about homosexuality.
I’ll like to talk about you. How did you get here, being an artist? There’s this quote – can’t remember who it’s attributed to – that we all start out as artists and, along the way, some lose their way. So maybe the proper question is, how did you stay the course?
To be honest it’s just blind faith really. Of course I didn’t start out as an Illustrator and Type designer, I got into digital art through Graphic Design. There is no clear answer to this question nor is there a prescription to stay the course. Most of being an Artist, I’ve realized is more suffering than joy but the moments of joy, though brief, always outlast the suffering. It’s that joy as an Artist you want to return to, you want to nurture. At least this is what I try to do, but I’ve also realized to embrace the suffering (depression, creative block, low/no pay, loneliness etc). How I stay the course is that I’ve focused more on the joys than suffering.
I think every creative gets asked the inspiration question. What inspires you, where do you get the ideas from, bla bla bla. But I am interested in how you tackled queerness for this month’s cover. What was your starting point?
I guess I took a more introspective look while designing this cover. I come from a Christian background which perhaps could explain my bigotry in my early years but as I read more, as I realized that I didn’t know anything, becoming more liberal as an individual, I asked myself, what really have queer people done to me? Even if I’ve been wronged by a queer person, when did I become the judge? I believe now, that people should be free to love whoever they want but in anyways though this is a complicated area as there is a very big grey area, I’m fine with everyone finding their own happiness, their own love. This is how I approached the illustration, drawing two men kissing affectionately and doing the same with the women. I wanted to also draw two children but I decided at the last minute against it.
Why did you decide against it? Because children are not allowed to kiss each other? Or because it reminds you of the popular argument that support for queerness will eventually lead to support for paedophilia?
Children funny enough can kiss each other, I’ve seen it a few times but I think I decided against it because of your second guess; it’s a reality I wasn’t bold enough yet nor did I feel I had the range to tackle.
You put out a series last year, on Nigeria’s past leaders. You are a believer in the Nigerian project?
Yes I am, but everyday, Nigeria tests my faith. It is reasonable to be patriotic in the long run, no matter where one resides.
And what is, in your opinion, the place of art in sustaining and even burnishing this ‘national’ project?
In terms of vanity, pride. Pride from being recognized continentally or globally, pride from winning an International Award, pride for being published in global media outlets. I know it sounds mundane, but these metrics matter a lot to Nigerians. We love to hear, he/she is a Nigerian and lay claim to that success. In terms of Virtue, I think public image and restoration and appreciation of local values and culture are paramount for the national project. Also, as a source of foreign exchange. Art is a wide field, and it’s potential for impact can’t be quantified. ✚
Elusoji is part of the editorial team at the Question Marker.