Aniekan Udofia: Graphic Greatness

Aniekan Udofia’s artwork brims with brilliance. His illustrations, murals, and even business cards are vivid and painstakingly detailed. Since his childhood he’s always envisioned art as a lifestyle. He’d frequently draw sketches and dream about becoming an artist. Now as an established muralist and illustrator, Udofia is realizing his passion and rendering his vision into masterpieces.

Udofia was born in Washington, D.C. but raised in Nigeria by his parents. Like most kids, Udofia was enthralled with comic books and superheroes. Udofia’s parents didn’t fully embrace his creative side. However, they recognized his artistic talent, but didn’t believe that art was a practical career path. His mother even burned some of his comic books, much to his dismay. Udofia didn’t let this deter him, and he started hiding comic books under his mattress and in other odd places around his home such as the kitchen cabinet.

nart3

When Udofia was older, he came back to Washington D.C. to pursue his artistic ambitions. While he continued improving his artwork, he worked as a security guard and later at a CVS Pharmacy. In his spare time, he continued drawing and building his portfolio. He also commuted to New York City to showcase his portfolio to magazines until eventually his work was featured in a half page illustration in XXL Magazine. Udofia took advantage of this opportunity and transformed his passion into a career. He eventually transitioned to murals as he expanded his repertoire.

In an interview with RVA Magazine, an art-oriented publication based in Richmond, VA, Udofia discussed his transition to murals. “It was tough at first, but [I] gradually went from larger canvases to using wood panels, and then from the wood panels it was an easy transition to walls, as far as size. That was my process for doing that. Once I got into that, the larger the pieces, the more fun you can have with ideas.” With a grand scale canvas at his disposal, Udofia’s works ascended to new heights. The immensity of murals granted him the opportunity to flesh out his ideas and demonstrate the full extent of his abilities.

Udofia’s works are, appropriately, reminiscent of panels from a graphic novel or comic book. He also draws inspiration from hip-hop, particularly the raw rebelliousness and expression. In addition, he considers classic hip-hop as a movement that embodies some of the ideals of comic books. “When hip-hop came out it, the golden era of hip-hop […] it was something for us, it felt like the youth’s voice,” Udofia explained in an interview with Hot Topic Presents, a program highlighting promising artists and musicians. “Especially with like N.W.A., Ice-T […] everything was so diverse at the time. It was sort of like they were superheroes in themselves. You could put Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, and Rakim in one spot and they have these different styles and different powers.”

nart2Udofia was also inspired by the artwork on hip-hop album covers. He even went to music stores with a sketchbook to draw the album’s artwork and hone his skills. Udofia’s passion for art, comic books, and hip-hop are reflected in many of his pieces. His series titled, “It Was Written,” which alludes to rapper Nasir Jones’ second album, features pieces based on specific hip-hop lyrics or songs. One such piece, “Protect Ya Neck,” is inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan. It depicts a woman holding a giant pencil in her hand and wearing a necklace of sharpened pencils. The woman gazes at the viewer and makes a “shhh” gesture with her other hand as if she’s telling someone to be quiet. This particular image is very realistic and Udofia effectively captures the details of her face. Her eyes are lively and mesmerizing and the red-orange background accentuates her vivacity. Judging from her appearance, she seems like a devoted schoolteacher reminding students to stay on task. The macro-pencil and necklace of pencils exemplifies the potency of artistic expression (i.e. the pen, or in this case, the pencil is mightier than the sword). “Protect Ya Neck” is a perfect piece for aspiring artists and would be an excellent addition to any art classroom or studio. Many of his other murals focus on inspirational and influential figures, including people outside of the realm of hip-hop. Udofia utilizes his murals to convey the essence of these individuals while incorporating his own artistic interpretation.

His mural of Marvin Gaye in Washington, D.C. vibrantly pays homage to the late soul singer. Even though it’s an illustration, the bright, swirling colors in the background make it seem animated. In the forefront, Marvin Gaye is leaning back with a microphone in his hand and pursing his lips to sing. An array of green, turquoise, blue, pink, and yellow colors vivify the mural and illustrate the versatility of Gaye’s voice. Renderings of a keyboard, a stream of stereo speakers, and a vinyl record complement the piece as a fusion of art and music. In essence, this mural is like a massive album or comic book cover dedicated to Marvin Gaye.nart6

Aniekan Udofia’s creativity and talent are undeniable. His artwork is incredible and reflective of his amalgamated vision. If you love murals, comic books, graphic novels, and/or hip-hop then you’ll immediately gravitate to his works. Feel free to check out his Instagram profile at https://instagram.com/aniekanreloaded/. Udofia imbues vivacity into his creations which makes them unique and memorable. As a hip-hop and comic book fan myself, I can’t wait to see more of his works. He has the potential to inspire a new generation of artists by dedicating himself to his craft and never losing sight of his true passion.

-Elijah Yarbrough