Onyinye Ubah

I wouldn’t know if there’s any correlation between architecture and fashion. Not so sure or maybe because I love drawing. That is one thing I know I really do so well. So, since I also love fashion, I decided to combine the two. You can imagine the switch from studying Architecture to doing fashion illustration. It was a move the got everyone raising their eyebrows at me and wondering what exactly I was up to. A lot of people never took me seriously. My parents didn’t really think it was something to seriously pursue. I remember my father always asking me if I wanted to go into fashion illustration and be earning peanuts here and there. You see, no matter how the discouragements were shot at me, the passion for fashion illustration couldn’t just die off like that. I wanted to prove to everyone that against all odds, it could be done.

Don’t think I have been super strong from the word go, there were days it seemed those discouragements actually got to me because I’m human. But there is something about passion, it doesn’t die easily. With the love for fashion still bubbling in me, I was able to get up and continue my journey.  In a bid to keep it alive, I started channeling money into it right from my days as an undergraduate. I started taking jobs here and there to raise funds for the tools I needed. It didn’t stop there. I went on to curving money my dad sent to me in school to buy art supplies for my illustration was part of my fund raising techniques.

My craze for fashion illustration didn’t start today. Growing up, I didn’t have the avenue to actually pursue it. Not until my last year in the university that I realised I just needed to start. The starting point was not mega. My friends were really my support system. They went all out for me and when I got active on social media, the support became immense. I started with the ideas I had and since then, I have been learning and growing.

One certain time, I ran out of art supplies. I remember that day so clearly. The frustration was thick because I was no longer getting jobs. Initially when I went into fashion illustration, I thought jobs would be rolling in droves. When that didn’t happen alongside the fact I had run out of art supplies, it seemed my dreams were crashing right in front of me. The crash never seemed to happen because my friends came to my rescue. We came up with the idea dish digital portrait art and switch to using ipad in making my illustration. As simple as it sounded, it worked out perfectly. After a short while, it crashed. This time around, I didn’t crash with it. I picked up the next gadget which was my phone and continued with it and have been using it since then.

Fashion illustration is still new in the Nigerian fashion industry to an extent. At times, there are some fashion designers that haven’t bought into the concept of working with illustrations. They still believe in working with designs they have been using overtime. In a time when African fabrics are now penetrating into the global market, the need for a fashion illustrator can never be overemphasized. The African fashion market is widening and one needs to upgrade as to compete with the rest of the world.  We can never stop talking about the need to promote African designs out there. For me, that is primarily where I concentrate. If we Africans don’t promote our culture, who will?

Most people limit fashion illustration to mere drawing and colouring. That is far from the truth. There is a lot of material selection, designing around some certain body shapes, drawing on paper and making corrections, picking out colours and then transferring the idea into digital arts. It’s a bunch of hard work. It might be fair to say no knowledge is lost since there are some elements in architecture that might be applied in fashion designing.

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15 Responses

  1. I’m so proud of you Emem.
    Coming from a firsthand witness to all the struggles you went through
    Love you..my dear

  2. I’m so happy for you b, you have come so far and it’s all because of your passion for fashion illustration. This is amazing.🥳🥳

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