Prepare to be transported to a universe where pixels and passion converge, as we introduce you to Bolaji Olaloye – the visionary digital illustrator and character designer hailing from the vibrant city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Bolaji’s artistic journey is an odyssey that merges culture, technology, and boundless creativity.
With a bachelor’s degree in Computer Graphic Design from the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka, Bolaji’s prowess knows no bounds.
With nearly a decade of professional experience, his collaborations read like a who’s who of creative giants – from Mortal Kombat and Star Wars to Burna Boy and Spotify.
Join us as we unveil the story behind his artistry that has garnered acclaim across media platforms like Screen Rant, The Gamer, and even the Guardian newspaper.
Ready? Let’s go!
Our questions are in bold text.
Some of Bolaji’s Digital Illustrations. Photo Credit: Bolaji
We’re super duper excited about the opportunity to have a one-on-one with you, Bolaji! Thank you for taking the time 🙂
So to start, we’d really love to know – as an artist, what kind of art speaks to you? What kind of art can you look at for days?
Well, I would start by saying that every art is beautiful in its own way.
But when it comes to the kind of art that really resonates with me, character designs have my heart – especially heavily stylized ones that tend to push various elements of art a bit far or to the extreme but still maintain their original function.
It’s like taking something from reality and making it your own in every way possible.
You break the rules and still get away with it…makes you feel like a demigod.
Haha, we feel you on that. Being able to take something that already exists and tweak it to make it yours has to be a superpower!
As an artist, more often than not, there’s an expectation that you create art that speaks to various sociopolitical issues. How have you been able to strike a balance between doing that and creating art for your own personal expression?
I don’t think I have ever really had to struggle with that because when the need arises to create art that speaks to socio-political issues, I go all out!
However, I generally tend to avoid political/social themes in my work.
I see them as a weapon/voice I use only when the need arises.
For instance, during the 20-10-20 incident that happened in Lagos, Nigeria, I was able to lend my voice as a youth by making some thought-provoking art pieces.
And that situation was also personal to me which allowed my art to serve the dual purpose of personal expression and speaking to a socio-political cause.
Another example would be back in 2018 after I saw the “This is Nigeria” music video by Falz. It was politically heavy and touched on a lot of social issues going on in our society.
I had to make an artwork inspired by the video. It was probably the most political art I ever made. Falz saw it and even shared on his social media platform at the time.
Photo Credit: Bolaji
It’s easy to see why it’s never really a struggle for you – just like everyone else, these issues affect you. And you use your art to speak to them from a personal perspective. Powerful!
It’s time to time-travel, haha.
If you could go back in time and change something you’ve done over the years in your art career, what would that be and why?
I’d say NOTHING – please I don’t want to disrupt the multiverse hahaha!
But seriously, I believe every single experience I have had to date all sums up who I am now.
I always believe everything happens for a reason, so, yeah, nothing.
Lol! Your comic-loving side is peeking through. Love your stand, though.
You’re a digital illustrator so the AI topic is probably nothing new to you. But we’re curious to know what your thoughts are about it – how do you see it disrupting the African art scene?
Honestly, when the whole AI conversation started, I was largely indifferent and thought maybe…just maybe it could be used as a tool that enhances our workflow and makes things a bit easier.
I also thought it could present a way for those who love art but never got the chance to pursue it to play around and experiment.
But boy was I wrong! As we speak, many big companies are already planning to replace their employees with AI, so real-world people are actively losing jobs already.
Another thing that really destroyed my little hope for it is the fact that on its own, AI isn’t creating original content, but rather sourcing and piecing together works of already existing artists into one and spitting them out as new pieces.
This is completely unethical and there is no law governing/regulating that. This is a BIG issue because it is hurting the real artists. It needs to be regulated ASAP.
Photo Credit: Bolaji
No lie! Artists need to be protected in all of this. Even though AI is beneficial in many other ways, the regulatory bit is so critical. However, one thing is sure, it can never truly replace REAL artists.
So tell us, Bolaji, who are 3 artists you adore and would like to meet or collaborate with in the future?
There are a lot of artists I really love but those who have had the most influence on me are Robert Valley, Miki Montlló and Sean Galoway.
It’s evident in my art style, you can absolutely see their influence. Would be awesome to work with them too!
I also really like Pablo Picasso’s work, even though late. I love how he handles shapes and forms plus stylization as a whole. He seems like he would have been a really fun guy to work and hang out with.
Oh yeah, that’s a list! We really hope that your dream comes true – at least for the living artists 🙂
Let’s talk music. If you could categorize your art in any music genre, which would it be and why?
Hmm, this is actually a difficult one as I don’t like confining myself to any particular box.
Just like with art styles, I experiment a lot. I can randomly go from clean graphical art to very painterly and rough.
So yeah, to answer the question, I’d say a blend of RnB, pop, hip hop and some retro synthwave.
Photo Credit: Bolaji
Photo Credit: Bolaji
That mix definitely shows your range, love it!
Could you share a memorable experience that has influenced your journey as an artist?
I don’t know if this counts as an experience, but the moment I realized I could use art as a form of therapy, everything changed.
Whatever I feel, I reflect it in my art. This is an approach that has been working for me over the years.
That surely counts. Art is an underrated form of therapy.
We’ve absolutely enjoyed talking to you, Bolaji, thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world!
Before you go, what is one tactical advice you would give to an emerging creative who comes to you for career mentorship?
Learn your basics! There is no shortcut to getting good.
Whenever you feel stuck, go back to basics – just never stop learning.
Comfort is the killer of growth.
Finally, how can folks connect with you?
I am Artnerdx on all social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Threads, LinkedIn, YouTube etc.
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