Interview with Digital Illustrator Ayooluwa Elisha

Give us a brief introduction. Tell us who you are and What you do?

I am AyoOluwa Nihinlola, a Graphics artist, illustrator and digital art enthusiast. I did as much as I could to learn—sleepless nights, working part-time, hours in cybercafés watching tutorial videos—to learn the basics of computer graphics. I joined the Facebook craze around this period which gave me an early encounter with some awesome Nigerian digital artists like Alagbe Adegbola, Matthias Aragbada (Dudutoonz), James Alabi (Abinibi), Tola Alabi, Jydekris Okonkwo, other awesome artists. I spent hours studying the designs of these folks and many others, trying to figure out the software and techniques they employed to achieve their designs. All these started to pay off when people started responding to designs I posted on Facebook. Approval also came from friends and family and later from other members of the design community, who were ready to comment, commend and critique on my works. All this helped forged my design and career path.

I’m currently the Design head at Gamsole (one of African’s biggest gaming start-up), in charge of Illustration, animation, UX designs and motion graphics for the company, I also double as the creative director at E5 Studioz.


Where did you get your art education?

I studied Fine and Applied Arts, at Obafemi Awolowo University majoring in Graphic designs. I also studied at Ile-Ife and later went for a one year program in 3D animation and game design at The Open Window Institute for Arts and Digital Sciences, Pretoria, South Africa.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion for design?

I have always had passion for art, which is what lead to my choice of study at the university, but I was fortunate enough to be exposed to computer systems at a really early age (around 6-7 years) and I was really fascinated by how the computer system works and more amazed when I came along software’s like Powerpoint and Coreldraw So, with my passion for arts and the discovery of these different digital software, I knew this was what I definitively would love to do for the rest of my life.


Can you tell us about your process, what is your daily routine when working?

My creative process is simple, first is preparation/research, once I have a brief or idea, I try to make adequate research on other design platforms like Behance, Dribble, and Deviant art about these to further solidify the idea.

Next is Conceptualization, based on my research and findings I start working on different forms of unique concept to execute my ideas.

And finally, is Execution, once I move past both stages above I start execution, I try to compress all these stages as much as I can because I don’t like taking too long on an idea with doing anything about it.

I’m a very habitual person so I have kept the same working routine for a while,

–    I wake up really early to prepare and set out for the day,

–    Get to my workspace (either at home or work)

–    Listen to some good music

–    Check what’s happening on social media platforms

–    Read some tech & design blogs and check out other design platforms for inspiration for the day

–    Then I get to work

–    I usually end the day really late in the night with a quick review of what I have done for the day


Why do you love what you do?

Some of the major reasons why I love art and design are, the “idea of creation” and “the power of perception”, on the idea of creation, the feeling you get from conceptualizing an idea and bringing it into reality is a very exhilarating one which cannot really be explained. As creatives, I believe we wield a very great power on controlling the social perception on things with our Art, be it a very well-crafted appealing logo (design) for a young start-up or a comical illustrated cartoon to serve as commentary on a societal topic. 


How do you balance creativity and business?  

There is a wrong perception that creative people are not usually good at business. I believe with some careful thought and a well-planned out approach, a creative person can navigate well in the business world and for me I have some few ways to balance these two.

–    Confidence in what I do, as a business person you have to show a high amount of confidence when you communicate with a client or even anybody that is interested in your craft. I know confidence comes from experience, that’s why I usually advice up and coming designers to try to gather as much experience as they can during the early stages of their careers. Experience and confidence are really important.

–    Documentation, I try to avoid only verbal communications when I’m engaging in business, even if a verbal conversation transpires between me and a person I usually request for an email follow up with conversation or I send a summary of the conversation back for confirmation. I also have some simple working contracts laid for my clients and I also advise clients to do the same too, this is very vital when in business.     

–    Don’t show desperation, I know this can largely control situation, but I feel it’s very important for an artist not to show desperation, especially during negotiation, a client can easily take advantage of this.

–    Sensitivity, it’s really important for a creative person to be very sensitive when in business, we sometimes get over excited when been approached for a project that we easily ignore some red signs that will eventually lead to problems along the way. I believe not all projects are for you, learn to let go.

–    Tread carefully with pricing / charges; this is usually a major topic when a creative person is engaging in business especially since the industry is not really regulated. If you need to consult one or two industry friends before to get opinion on charges before giving final words on charges please do and be very realistic your charges based on your experience and expertise.

–    Delivery, it’s very important to pick a very realistic delivery timeframe and stick to it, and if the delivery timeframe won’t be met, the client should be given some heads up with reasonable explanations.


What’s your favourite work and why?

My favourite work/project will be the Graphic Book I released a year ago “Nollywood legends”. It’s my favourite because of the idea behind it, which is to immortalize Nollywood legends and project the legacies of some selected Nigerian Actors and Actresses.

What role do you think social media has in Design?

Social media has taken a major role in the creative world because it has given the creative individuals an avenue to share their voice/work to the world. It has also served as one of the best places for a creative person to market their craft and get good feedback and response from the society.

How much of Nigeria’s culture inspires or influences your work?

I take a lot of inspiration for the Nigerian culture, Yoruba culture to be specific and it as great influence on my work, my early childhood was spent in Oyo town, Oyo State, and it gave me access to some understanding of the Yoruba culture. Growing up I also had access to the very good Yoruba pieces of literature like Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀ by Daniel O. Fagunwa and the Alawiye books, these really inspired me a lot, and I have always imagined them animated or illustrated. I also got inspiration from Nigerian proverbs and folklores; I think there are some of the intelligent forms of content that can inspire positively.

How do you want people to feel when they see your designs and art?

I always hope that my designs and art inspire people and they can easily get the messages I’m trying to pass across,  it will be a thing of joy to see people learn some few things about the project I have released and yet to release. 

What has been your most inspiring travel experience?

My trip to South Africa will be top of the list, it was refreshing to see how to develop and organized an African country could be and it also a good to experience the design / creative industry in another part of the continent.

What advice would you give to aspiring creative individuals following in your footsteps? 

Gather as much experience as you can, never stop improving your craft and stay humble.

Tell us something that is overrated.

Customer is always right

Would you consider mentoring? 

Yes, I would, but in this digital age the concept of mentoring should have changed a little bit from too much empathizes on just physical mentoring and you sometimes don’t have to reach out to a person to be your mentor officially, by just following a person and there works closely on social media and online, there’s of lot that can’t be learnt.

Upcoming projects

I have some exciting projects coming up, the first one I will be dropping soon is a music adaption of the project I last year.

Sign up to receive "The Beam" in your inbox.

Interested in working together? Shoot us a message

Let's Go

Get Started

Filter Options

Browse by