Kugali Spotlight: Shofela Coker


K: What gave you the courage to pursue a career in art? 

SC: My brother was my earliest influence, and strongest source of belief that I could pursue a career in the specific branch of art that I chose to pursue. Of course, my father was an art professor and muralist, so I always believed that it was possible to support myself or a family in the arts. Both my parents always encouraged and supported me every step of the way.

K: Describe the reaction of your family and close friends when you told them you wish to pursue a career in art

SC: My entire family is art oriented. That conversation with the family never happened. I’ve always been interested in the creative arts so people close to me always assumed I’d do that despite the impracticality of that career in Lagos. I thought I’d make a good archaeologist when I was younger though 😀

K: Now that you’re professional there’s a certain level of quality your fans have come to expect. Has this changed your creative process? 

SC: I do believe in curating the professional face of my work and maintaining the quality of work I publish, but I’m an even stronger proponent of carving out a separate space to ‘play’ whether digitally or in a small community of other artists. I don’t do it often enough, but a platform, say publishing sketches on Instagram for instance, is essential for me to keep my ideas and skills elastic. In the end, I believe this play space feeds my professional work.

K: Describe your favourite job or project and why?

SC: Outcasts of Jupiter. It was a collaborative process with my brother I had looked forward to for such a long while. From inception to Kickstarter and eventually production, was thrilling. There were some lows, but the highs and seeds we planted for the future are exciting.

K: Describe your worst job or project and why? 

SC: I worked for an ad agency in Lagos. I naively didn’t sign a contract and didn’t get paid for 3 months of work.

K: Describe your creative process from the point of inspiration to completing a piece. 

SC: I sketch an idea first to explore my unbiased opinion of the subject then collect reference, then sketch again. I try to pull from unusual sources unrelated to the idea in the hopes that the visual language is richer. This then takes on the form of an illustration, comic or sculpture created in Photoshop or Zbrush. Story is important to me so these steps are always guided by a desire to impart some weight of meaning to my visual ideas. I strive to create a dialogue with the audience no matter what media my work is filtered through.  At times though, I treat the whole process as play time and just see what happens improvisationally.

K: What do you think separates good art from great art? 

SC: A strong recognisable voice translated and supported by knowledge and awareness of one’s self, art history, and culture.

K: When you think of beautiful art what’s the first name that comes to mind? 

SC: Rodin

K: If you could go 5 years into the past talk to your younger self what would you say? 

SC: Quiet the brain noise by taking the time to live life more. Work will always be there waiting for you.

K: Who are your top 5 favourite artists? 

SC: Alex Toth/Mignola, Rodin, Juanjo Guarnido, David Mazzucchelli & Gustav Klimt

K: Describe your art in a sentence? 

SC: Always attempting the elusive ‘sprezzatura’

K: What can we expect from you in the future? 

SC: An animated documentary film project releasing this year called Liyana and more Outcasts of Jupiter.