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An Accidental Artist's First Post

Life is Art. Never perfect; breathtaking still

By Samuel OjoPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Source: Samuel Ojo

New to Vocal, and I thought to share a little of my journey so far here. Call it a Factsheet if you will.

I’m Sam, a cartoonist and illustrator. You'll find me mostly documenting issues with social and political themes. I'm a Nigerian living in the United Kingdom where I recently completed my Masters in Visual Communication at Birmingham City University.

Source: Samuel Ojo

SERENDIPITY is a good word to sum up my love affair with Art. I always could make decent rough sketches and would sneak into my dad’s newspaper library as a kid just to read editorial cartoon strips, but I never grew up thinking it would be my career. I never wanted to be an artist.

I have a B.A. in Graphic Design that was the result of a computer error. I applied to Uni for Theatre Arts, but my admission letter read Fine & Applied Arts instead; my score wasn’t the issue since I had one that qualified me even for Law at the time. I think that pissed me off the most.

Source: Samuel Ojo

Heady teenager that I was, I was ready to wait another year to write another qualifying exam for the course I wanted. Then my parents suggested still registering for Fine & Applied Arts while waiting for the course I actually wanted. "Don't waste the year," they said. And here I am. In hindsight, I’d say it’s the best mistake that ever happened to me. I genuinely find joy in talking about Art these days and I can’t imagine a different life.

"It’s crazy how these two career-altering events have been mostly serendipity, but they’ve taught me to be more open to changes and doing things afraid"

Most people know me as a cartoonist today, but I started my career with Graphic and Motion Design roles—at the time, that earned you more money and respect. I worked in Magazine publishing, TV stations, Media research, Marketing Communication, etc. before going freelance. That was a tough decision, considering it was pre-COVID days and the WFH culture was not popular in Nigeria. As a young person, not holding the traditional 9-5 made you a target—with neighbours, family, and worse, the Police. I was harassed and had money extorted from me several times. If this sounds strange to you, please Google "End SARS protests."

A few months after going freelance, I started working with a client from the US who contracted me to create a poster design. During our conversations, he opened up about his frustrations with a Donald Trump illustration project and asked if I could help out. I told him it wasn’t my strong suit, but he insisted. He assured me he would understand if the results weren’t nice as long as I gave it my best shot. Getting that piece done was NOT FUN! I didn’t even have a digital tablet at the time; add to that epileptic power supply and internet connection. But this man loved the outcome. He encouraged me to consider offering it as a service and I thought, why not? I still look at that cartoon today, Trump cowering under a giant boot, and cringe because I don’t think I killed it. But I’ve lost count of how many US-based clients came into my DMs asking if I could do something similar.

Source: Samuel Ojo

It’s crazy how these two career-altering events have been mostly serendipity, but they’ve taught me to be more open to changes and doing things afraid. Sure, it's not been an easy ride and I've lost too many opportunities than I can count just for being a Nigerian (story for another day) but I'm glad for the journey.

Source: Samuel Ojo

Moreso, this past year moving to a new country and interacting with the art community has brought me out of my shell. It’s also showed me I’m capable of so much more than I imagined.

Proud to say Art is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that you know me, please say hi in the comments. I’m so much looking forward to interacting with art lovers on here. Does anyone have a similar story?

Fine ArtJourneyInspirationIllustrationContemporary Art

About the Creator

Samuel Ojo

Sam here! A sucker for anything art, especifically social justice & political art.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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  • Mary Adeola Scott2 months ago

    I can definitely relate to some of these. Nice piece!

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