Rolling Out

Artist Ndubisi Okoye wants his work to engage the community

Ndubisi Okoye

Do you most often actively seek inspiration or does it find you? Or is it a combination of the two?

Inspiration to any creative person sparks at any given moment. My mind seeks inspiration almost without me intentionally doing so. I find inspiration in everything in some form.

What led you to art in general and to your art form in particular?

I believe my creativity was given to me by God. I also believe that all the people he has placed in my life have helped cultivate my creativity.

Have you ever been involved in traditional business? If so, how?

Yes, I work at Commonwealth//McCann in Detroit as a junior art director for our client, Chevy, and my artistry contributes to the completion of those projects. Also, the Our/Detroit Vodka Distillery Mural Ryan Wright and I produced was a business agreement with Our/Detroit.

In addition to mastering their art, what other skill sets to you recommend that artists develop if they want to be successful?

Finding mentors, seeking inspiration, critiquing work, doing mock projects, travel, keeping positive/critical creatives around you, sleeping, not being bogged down by making money, and becoming famous.

How do you stay at the leading edge of your craft?

I wouldn’t say that I’m at the leading edge of my craft. I would say I am growing and learning to hone my craft and perfecting the execution of that craft. I know as hard and fast as I work there is someone who is unnoticed that is better and faster than me, so I try to work to glorify God.

Do you think that there are any widely held misconceptions about art or artists? If so, what are they and how do you work to dispel them?

Yes, there are many honestly that I can’t address but one in particular is the misconception of creatives. I think that we, as a culture have left the days of artists. I believe that people are creatives in that, they do more than just one medium or craft. In today’s society you can’t just paint or just hand-letter typography, you have to master multiple elements of creativity to fulfill your creative needs.

How do you map out your goals? How do you measure your success?

I’ve found that I don’t map out goals, I have vague plans that change frequently. I work tirelessly, pray, seek God, and when opportunities present themselves use my talents to create something I hope touches someone. Making plans otherwise have never been conducive to the lifestyle I live.

Who do you consider to be your peers in your field? Who do you see or use as examples to emulate?

Seignhor Reid, Erik Jones, Jason Mayden, Ryan Wright, Corey Norman, Brendan Asante, Alessandro Pautasso, Gurcey Eugene, Courtney McCall, Benjamin Howard, Ivan Jaddou, Ziarekenya Smith, Brandi Keeler, Tristan Eaton, Arnell Darden, Joshua Bennett, Carven Lissant, Andrew Little, Sabrina Nelson, Sarah McClouskey, Gemma Obriant, Brandon Rochon, itsaliving, ilovedust, etc.

I use them all as inspiration and try to draw from them all continuously.

Name two of your top role models: one in the art world and one from outside of it.

Mark Staton and Brandon Rochon

Name three books, works, performances or exhibits that changed how you view life, yourself or both.

“My Black History” (poem)- Arnell Darden

“Ten Indictments Against the Church” (sermon)- Paul Washer

Frindle (book)- Andrew Clements

Why do you consider continued learning important?

It helps focus your mind on what you want to do in life if you don’t already know when you graduate high school, and gives you exposure to other like-minded or [not] like-minded people. It prepares you for life somewhat.

What affirmations do you repeat to yourself that contribute to your success?

Philippians 4:13

What role does art have in the community? What role would you like to see art play in the community?

I want art to be engaging the community — like the billboard in Africa that created water for the village that had a drought. I don’t want art just to be something nice to be looked at.

What role does technology play in your day-to-day life? How do you utilize it?

It’s a part of my life social media is how I communicate to people I can see orhave never met across the world. I have friends and connections to places I’ve never been through the Internet and technology.

What software, app or other technological innovation has made the biggest difference in your life, career or both?

The adobe creative Cloud and Instagram.

Please define your personal brand.

It’s a hybrid of design, illustration and poetry.

What is your favorite vacation destination and why?

I actually found out I don’t vacation. I think right now my favorite place is Montgomery, Alabama. It’s really quiet in Shakespeare Park, the sunsets are amazing, the people are nice, and it’s ridiculously hot.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would take away sin.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would be more vulnerable to the people I love and try to give back to my community and family more of my time and talent.

What does it take to be iconic? In your estimation, who has achieved that status?

A person would have to be immersed in subculture and continuously bring that insight to the mainstream and simultaneously be true to your convictions no matter how much fame and publicity [you have] and money you make. Also you have to give people a reason to like you and what you stand for.

Jason Mayden, Seignhor Reid, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, etc.

Click on the gallery below to view more of Okoye’s artwork.

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