From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Aniekan Udofia moved back to DC to pursue a career as an artist after living in Nigeria for most of his life.
As a young man, he worked mostly in colored pencil and pen illustration. He remembers studying the technique of an artist in his Nigerian village of Uwo and trying to master his style. He would also look at the political caricatures in newspapers and studying how the image mimicked the editorial content. Not surprisingly, Udofia tries to incorporate an element of social commentary in his art.
At the beginning of his career, Udofia worked mostly as an illustrator for magazines. His other early works were mostly hip-hop portraits that translated lyrics into images. He got his big break in 2005, when he and over 20 other artists were commissioned to work on an advertorial mural for the TLC show, “Miami Ink.”
The payment from the commission made him realize he could finally turn art into a viable career.
He continued to work on a large-scale projects and made a name for himself in the local arts scene working on public art murals, like the George Washington mural at 15th and U Streets NW and the Duke Ellington at 2121 Ward Court NW.
Udofia finds these public works fulfilling because of the opportunity for feedback from the neighborhood about his work. Passers-by can see the painting process, ask questions and interact with the artist and the work. For him, the high visibility for these murals is “refreshing.”
Udofia says that securing offers for these murals has been more that just luck.
After he moved to the area, he “was immediately attracted to the art community.” He started building a circle of friends when he was out at events or even just playing basketball in the park. “Since then, same people and same circle have been helpful in getting jobs. …Over the years building the relationship has been great for me.”
Earlier this year, Udofia exhibited his works in a solo show, “The Village B-boy” at Lamont Bishop Gallery. His latest project is “The Sickness,” a series that deals with different issues important to the artist. Currently, in “The Sickness 4: Reloaded,” Udofia is trying to “study the mind and how it works” when confronted with “violence, motivation, inspiration,” etc., and so on. Udofia also hopes to combine works from past works and series in a comprehensive exhibit.