By MICHAEL BAMIDELE
Odion Tobi is a visual artist who tells stories with afro-centric and surrealistic designs. Some of his digital artworks were recently showcased at the Coin Geek conference in New York.
In this interview with the Guardian Life, he talks about digital arts and taking his work into the NFT space.
How did you first become interested in art, and how did you get started with it yourself?
Ever since I was a kid, my love for arts has been crazy. Backstory (chuckles), I was inspired by a clothing company sketch “Hypno”. I was quite young when I came across a nice drawing on the shirt, and I was like “I wanna do that, I wanna place my work on a shirt”, but that didn’t work out back then because I was really young. I didn’t let the passion die, I was a “Supa Strikas” fan, I bought many issues and drew fan art from the comics. I was curious about how stuff like that was made.
Fast forward, after secondary school, I was introduced to Photoshop coincidentally, and when I got my first job at a creative agency, I started with 3D, and I have been creating ever since.
How would you describe your designs?
My designs are 3D afro-centric and surrealistic. I like to use different styles depending on what inspires me or my mood, so I consider myself overall to be quite eclectic.
Art by Odion Tobi
What do you find most fascinating about art?
Emotions. True art is a story, with deeper meaning, each stroke or pixel that makes up an art image is an event in the artist’s life, it’s a phenomenal feeling when creating art, and every art is a gift from man to the world, because many artists have died, but their works remain.
What inspires your designs?
My designs are inspired by my mood, emotions, and events occurring around me. When I’m gloomy I tend to make dark arts, and when happy I could be a pallet of bright colors.
Talking Drummer by Odion Tobi
Tell us about your creative process?
My creative process is heavily based on 3D. I use software such as Cinema 4D, blender, Zbrush, Adobe suites, marvelous designer for 3D fashion design and many other plug-ins that can enable work faster.
How would you describe the art appreciation culture in Nigeria?
I think arts in Nigeria is quite valued, but there seems to be a little segregation between Digital artists and Traditional artists. I believe the art scene in Nigeria isn’t valuing digital artists in terms of art purchase more than the Traditional artist. Most digital artists in Nigeria make better sales internationally.
Which of your artworks are you most proud of and why?
I have no artworks I am proud of yet, I am happy to create them but I don’t get hung up on my works, I have a lot of images in my head, and I constantly learn to improve in my creation skills so I can create good arts, The more I learn and evolve, the better my arts.
Osun mare by Odion Tobi
You have a community of creatives called the Ideators, tell us about this community.
The Ideators is a community for creatives in Africa, our goal is to create a free, easy learning and mentorship platform for countless creatives. A platform where any one, newbie or professionals can connect directly with top artists one on one and seek for advice. We are slowly building the platform and yeah, it will be live soon, for now we are keeping it on social group chats like Telegram, Whatsapp and Discord.
You recently took some of your design to the NFT/Crypto space. How has that worked for you?
Well, to be honest, the exposure I have received in the crypto space within a short time has been pleasant and I am collaborating with cool artist to create better projects on NFT, and to be honest, it’s been really cool being a crypto artist, that’s all I can say.
Vector and MI Abaga’s ‘Crown of Clay’ art by Odion Tobi
Do you think NFT is the future for artists in Nigeria and Africa at large?
NFT is definitely the future. The world is becoming more digital, although my fear is, with more adoption of cryptocurrency around the world, the buzz may fizzle and it will be like every other art platform, except innovation keeps happening from time to time.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep doing it till you get it right. If you don’t do it with ease, then practice more till you can and while at it, don’t give in to distractions from other people’s progress, keep an eye on the road, for a driver that keeps looking back while driving sooner or later may drive off the bridge.
Is there an artist you would like to work with?
Yes, there are lots of artists I would love to collaborate with, but can’t mention names for now.
Would you be willing to share any plans for upcoming projects?
Follow my socials for updates on my projects, that’s all I can say.