Society has found a way to coin a word -Artivism – for art curated to make a difference in society. With art being intrinsically diverse, creatives with a passion to influence positive societal change, can make a mark with the help of their unique Identity any gift. Ijeoma Ossi is one of such artists speaking up on issues that require change on a national and global level.
With a background in law, human rights, and a unique blend of art, her work stands as a source of inspiration to many, one that is worth celebrating.
In this interview, Ijeoma shares what she has been up to since we last caught up with her, and other interesting things about her work and life in general.
Hi Ijeoma, it’s been about 6 years since our last interview. Wow, time flies fast. Can you give us a brief breakdown of your journey as a creative in the past 6 years?
Oh wow, it feels like yesterday! I’ve made several pivots in both my art and law careers. I’ve illustrated 3 picture books and a graphic novella, produced infographics for 3 NGOs across the continent, and several illustration/design projects in between. I’ve also worked as a lecturer in international relations and law at a private university. Right now, I’m fully freelancing as an illustrator and graphic designer. I’m still in touch with my mentor from when I was an FCG mentee; we’ve become really good friends and she’s doing wonders in her own career.
Wow! So much has indeed happened. What’s your biggest take away from the past 6 years?
Honestly the path has been anything but linear. As a creator, you have to be open to a wide range of possibilities, especially the hard or boring parts. Another thing is the importance of not being ‘nice’ in business. Price your work properly and be firm; people will take advantage of you otherwise. Learn about contract terms and intellectual property, especially in the era of AI. Marry the right person (SUPER important). My husband gives me unquantifiable support in all I do, and he believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. He’s the best gift I could wish for!
Your works are unique and awesome of course. But what drew us to your Illustrations again is your comic about police brutality in Nigeria. Can you share with the community the background story of this comic?
The End SARS period was a very difficult time for young people in Nigeria. We were fighting a just cause and were united for the 1st time in decades, but the system hit back hard. Drawing that comic was a way for me to counter my own feelings of helplessness and spread the word to my audience. I’ve always seen comics as a great format for presenting complex issues, and in June this year, I presented on this at Cambridge’s CRASSH: Comics and the Global South.
A lot of your works have strong cultural tones, how do you think they have influenced or can influence societal norms or anomalies?
Art imitates life and vice versa. Part of my motivation is building self-esteem and addressing the inferiority complex that comes with being surrounded by Western influences. To do that, I create and post artwork from personal visual development projects on African mythology and folklore, drawing attention to who we are, who we were, and who we can still be. With a larger platform and more artists, we could influence a younger generation to stand taller among their peers.
Considering your background in law and human rights, where do you think politics and art intersect?
The two are inevitably bound as seen in the works of caricaturists, musicians like Fela, graffiti, protest flash mobs, and other artistic expressions. Dictators often go after artists because one scathing cartoon can demystify them, destroying the fear they’ve cultivated in the populace. I’ve worked in NGOs where I’ve had to tone down or edit out certain aspects of my illustrations because we could get in trouble with the authorities. Art also serves educational purposes; a lot of civil organizations are putting up infographics to educate people on the electoral process, and how to recall errant representatives. I think those are amazing initiatives and I’m thinking of doing something similar.
Where do you see your journey as a creative evolving to in the next six years?
I’ve recently moved to a new country so my perspective and goals have been realigned a bit. But I am still aiming to work in publishing, animation and comics/graphic novels. In the meantime, I am merging my background and skills into producing valuable content for illustrators, designers and other creatives, so stay tuned!
I truly appreciate the work FCG is doing to push creative girls to their highest potential, and I hope your platform continues to thrive!
Awwnn thank you Ijeoma!
You can check out more of Ijeoma Ossi’s work through the links below