Nyanza is a 22 year old visual artist and animator from London. Best known for her ‘Monchi’ series which was first seen in 2014. Drawing influence from the vibrant pop art aesthetic, Nyanza places modern day women as her “contemporary muses”. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Afropunk and Mic to name a few. Find out what makes this talented illustrator worth a King’s Ransom.
What is your passion and how did you discover it?
My passion is visual art. Growing up I’ve always had a pretty vivid imagination and I’ve always wanted to tangibly translate my imagination somehow. I really discovered my artistic talent when I was about five or six at school. My classmates would be like, “you can really draw…you should really go into art as a career” and my family were 100% behind my talent.
In secondary school the art teachers were so restrictive when it came to what we could draw, so it killed my imagination. It made me kind of scared to create my own characters and instead I re-drew existing images until I became inspired and comfortable with drawing my own stuff again.
I also had vintage American comic books growing up, the one that stood out to me most was the ‘Betty and Veronica’ series by Archie Comics. We had the 1950s edition, and I was always drawn to the style. When I was about 16, I taught myself how to use Adobe Photoshop for pop art images, whilst using famous pop artists and comics as a reference. As I got better and better, my imagination started up again and so I began to create my own characters. And here I am!
Where did you grow up and how has it shaped your life so far?
London is my home. I was born and raised here and I’d say it’s really shaped my life. Both my parents are half Nigerian and were raised between the UK and Nigeria. I’d like to think that I’m shaped by both Nigerian (Yoruba) culture and London’s culture. My parents have shared stories of life in the UK and in Nigeria with my siblings and I. Both cultures shape a lot of the things I do – the way I eat, how I dress, my art etc. I think its really cool how London’s culture is getting the shine it deserves nowadays. I’ve always thought it was influential, but the mainstream media are really catching on with the style, slang and even the way we talk and act.
What does King’s Ransom mean to you?
I’d say King’s Ransom is an attitude. It’s an ambitious, confident one with a strong aura. There’s so many people that wanna achieve their dreams and aspirations but they need some type of motivation to do so. The fact that this brand sends such a strong message, especially to young people, separates it from so many other brands for the youth.
Who’s the next Londoner to look out for?
I’m definitely the one to watch! I really feel as though my art is incredibly unique and there’s millions of people that still haven’t seen it. Also, there’s still so much to come.
I also think Dorcas’ work is amazing! I discovered her work last year and we coincidentally met at AFROPUNK. She does illustrations of a range of black women and like me, she uses them as contemporary muses. Her work ethic is something else as well, I wish I could work like that!
Which animated series do you wish you created and why?
Daria! That is one of my favourite cartoons ever. It’s so ahead of it’s time whilst being a sign of the times, you know? There’s so many different characters that I love on that show, and it was aired when MTV was at it’s peak – from the late 90s to early 2000s.
Which artist would you have illustrate you?
Eloi for sure. His art is mostly based on pop culture icons, like singers, as well as his own imagination. He tends to exaggerate the features of the subject that stand out so they look like really cute caricatures. I’ve been told that I have ‘drawable’ facial features, so it would be cool if he drew me.
You wake up one morning and your face is plastered all over the papers, what do you become infamous for?
If I had a time machine, it would probably be me trying to break into Michael Jackson’s Neverland home in 1990. He’s such a legend.
What’s the next jewel in your treasure chest?
I worked on a really fun project last summer that should be released by the end of the year. It’s actually one of the biggest projects to date and I’m so proud of it. I’m also working on a collaboration with another artist, who’s work I’ve been following for such a long time. I’m really excited for everyone to see it! I’m always grateful of any good opportunities that come my way, and I’m sure there’ll be many more to come.