Subi started illustrating while studying post-grad Architecture and got great feedback from some classmates, which encouraged him to give freelancing a try through online services like Upwork and Fiverr. Children’s Books seemed like a good choice because, as he says, ‘there’ll always be kids and parents who want books for them’ – so he placed all his eggs in this basket.
Follow his illustration journey below from his graduation at ADA to his immediate mark on the illustration scene:
I have always been an artist but really lazy about it. I had probably spent 7 years without drawing anything for fun- I blame this on architecture for draining me creatively through its rigid barriers. I reached a point where I needed to work on something where I was providing value and I felt that I could have a better experience through illustrating Children’s books.
After slowly getting jobs on Upwork and Fiverr I managed to gain more confidence and this made me work even harder on learning all sorts of styles and techniques. I then got an iPad and began the daunting task of learning how to draw-on-glass. In 2019 I decided to learn more about illustration and digital art from a college so I applied to a few colleges and received an opportunity to study graphic design at the Academy of Digital Arts.
This was great, considering that I freelance as an illustrator for self-publishing authors.
I was excited to learn how to make better design decisions for these books that I design and illustrate. In 2020 I had a fantastic time at the academy. It was a real blessing to be educated by people who are really cool and very talented. Sometimes people underestimate the value of a teacher/lecturer being cool. Academy of Digital Arts really gave us engaging assignments and valuable insight into the world of graphic design. After classes, I had to get back to my freelancing work which I managed with ease through being inspired by my lecturers who also do kickboxing and design video games, and run multiple businesses. During the 2020 year, I produced half a dozen picture books, using some skills I had learned from ADA and some skills I picked up from the books in the library.
Most of the freelance work I do features characters of African ancestry which has helped me gain an international following and allowed me to get more work with first-time authors within the African diaspora. Many of my clients want to self-publish a children’s book about their own children. Notably, I helped a client produce a picture book ‘Our 1st Protest’ for their daughter, based on their first experience at a protest- the George Floyd Protests. This project had to be produced rather quickly and the nature of the illustrations needed to be appropriate for children without sugar-coating the seriousness of the experience.
This book continues to reach a wider audience and I receive very positive feedback on the work we did. Similarly to a book I illustrated in 2019 ‘CHUNKY’ by Amina Leila, is a celebration of a young girl who lives an unobstructed life while being overweight. She dances, swims, does gymnastics, and lives in a happy house filled with lovely family members.
It feels good to add a little bit of value to people’s lives and I hope to continue doing this type of work for as long as possible.