Based in Lagos, Nigeria, digital artist Godwin Akpan is a true testament of how far you self-teaching and pure determination can take you. The result? His comic ‘Iyanu’ (created with his friend Roye Okupe) got picked up by HBO Max to become an animation.
Talking with Apex Magazine about the way he approaches his design, Godwin says: “It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, when I am creating my illustrations, I have to think like a writer. Whether I am creating characters or environment, I am constantly trying to think of the story surrounding the image I am creating. A big challenge is the temptation to create something completely new—something no one has ever seen. While that is possible, it is not always the best course of action. You don’t ever want to alienate your audience, so while creating fantasy images, I always build upon what exists, so it is easily relatable. Instead of inventing a completely alien creature, why not take a common, recognisable animal and add your own little touch? For example, a unicorn: this is just a horse with a horn, but it’s still a fantastic concept.”
Working on Iyanu will be the first time for Godwin as an art director. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter he states that he doesn’t believe in being tied down to a particular career path: “A couple of years ago, I thought comic art was cool and I thought that was what I was going to be doing. But then I moved on to concept art for films and now, I’m the art director for a show. Everyone is constantly evolving, and I hope that is what will happen to me.”