The best part about being an artist online is getting the chance to meet & connect with other artists around the world. I want to start giving Shout-Outs to those artists and provide a space for them to speak about their work.
We're starting off with my friend Umaimah Damakka, a visual development artist and illustrator from Nigeria currently working in the U.S.
Tell me about your artistic background.
What inspired you to pursue art as a career?
What inspired me were cartoons and comics I read as a child. I'm pretty sure I've spent 80% of my life watching cartoons. I was obsessed with Disney Channel and Disney princesses so much that I was known for it in school (lol) And of course, seeing all these cartoons made me want to draw and get my art to that level, so with some practice, tutorials, and a lot of nagging to my parents to let me study animation in the USA, I got to where I am.
Is your artwork inspired by any cultural influences or communities?
Oh definitely! Specifically, Nigerian women and Black women inspire my art. I especially love portraying Fulani or Hausa cultures. Even in Nigeria, Northern Nigerian cultures are often ignored, so I enjoy showing their beauty through a whimsical style.
It's also fun mixing those cultures with cute romance concepts because I love happy endings, and we hardly ever get those with black stories.
Talk to me about your work experience in the animation industry so far.
My first industry work was for Sesame Studios; although it was more of a class project, I was still really excited to be a part of it. Probably impossible, but my dad was almost as excited (maybe even more than me). He grew up watching Sesame Street.
My first official industry gig is color designing for Disney TV Animation, which I'm currently still doing, and I still can't believe that's happening.
If you could manifest your dream art gig/career-- what might that look like?
I want to be an art director for a show. I would love to work on a show about African girls and some African mythological monsters-- I can't believe that has yet to be explored in media.
In my current job, I can see what being an art director entails; you become responsible for a show's whole style and color scheme. It feels like an excellent capability to have, inspiring the artists working with you and influencing the entire style language of a show or movie that people around the world would watch and probably enjoy.
What's your favorite pastime when you're not drawing?
This might be a bit embarrassing, but I love going on Tumblr and following pages that post pictures of European countrysides and flower fields and fantasize about myself living there, growing my own garden... In the real world, I mostly spend my time reading romance novels. I love stories with happy endings.
Shout out one media that has had a big impact on you.
There are so many, but okay, to go with one... I'll say Adventure time. The show's creators did such a fantastic job with each character's arc, in a way that it's not overwhelming. And they created this world that keeps viewers eager and curious to see more. I think it's going to be a while before we have another show like Adventure Time.
Lastly, where can people support your work?
You can find me on:
Thank you so much, Umaimah!
I can't wait to see a show directed by you someday. 😉
Stay tuned for more Artist Features coming each month!