Squid Alley with Shika Odamtten – Many Styles to Create, Explore and Manipulate

November 18, 20185 min read

Scrolling through Julia Naa Shika Odamtten’s Instagram page is a bottomless pool of pure joy you can’t ever get enough of. Rich textures, emotive and colourful gradients, edgy characters, avant-garde fashion and an overwhelming sense of cool draw you into her majestically insane world – a world where your only sin, is to not be true to yourself. 

Shika, which translates from Ga as gold is as rare a jewel as any you’ll ever come across. By constantly experimenting, this fashion designer and illustrator continues to grow and surprise her fans by weaving bold, intricate memories that inspire authenticity and have you coming back for more.

Squid Mag was lucky to have her on the Squid Alley: an interview series that aims to spotlight as many African digital artists as possible. 

Let’s get into it.

1. What are your go to tools?

My go to tools are my laptop, Wacom tablet and pen but sometimes my little sketch pad and pen.

2. What inspires you?

Colours! And vibes in an already existing image or setting. How these colours make me feel is what I translate into my art. Happy, bright colours are my favorite. Also my mood plays a big role in my art. I draw best when I’m going through intense emotions.

3. What major challenges do you face?

Mind block on a regular. Feeling like I’m not good enough and like I’m not moving forward. A struggle with having a consistent style – that mostly due to the fact that I get bored very quickly. Hence I cannot commit to one constant style. There are so many styles to create, explore and manipulate.

4. What is your favourite (and most fun) piece of work?

To be honest, I don’t think I have a favourite piece, but I’ll go with Fatima. I spent a lot of time to detail it and the colour play makes me happy and proud. Makes me feel like I’m making progress, which is very important to me. I was sure to texturize it as texture plays a huge role in my art…mostly.

5. Who do you absolutely listen to when you work?

I'm Your General by Shika

Daft Punk, Kanye West, Jayden Smith, Kali Uchis, Tame Impala and Bryan the Mensah are musicians I listen to on a regular. I really can’t name them all as it’s a mood thing for me. I listen to who I’m in the mood for.

6. What do you do for fun?

Illustration of a girl holding a wand by Shika Odamtte
Iyah by Shika

Illustrating aside, I scheme (more than anything lol), stretch or watch tv shows.

7. You have 24hrs in the Squid Time Tunnel to change something about your past. What would it be and why?

Juzo by Shika Odamtten
Juzo by Shika

Hmmm…something is too little but I guess I’ll just pick the most important one which is to actually do more case studies and constant practice.

8. What’s your hope for African comics, games and animation in the next 3 years?

I’m hoping the general African creative industry would be making groundbreaking discoveries and work as we would be constantly sought after by the already successful mainstream industries all over the world.

9. The Triomphant Bonus: Who are your top 3 African creatives across comics, games, animation, music, technology etc?

I’ll break the rules and give you my top four. My top four African creatives would be Papa Oppong, Burna Boy, Natasha Nayo and Kobe Taylor.

  • Photoshoot by Papa Oppong
  • akolabone - Form by Kobe Taylor
  • Kobe Taylor digital self portrait
  • Summer Festival Moka by Natasha Nayo
  • Colorful illustration of a girl jumping rope while wearing a dashiki
  • Vexed by Shika Odamtten

See more of Shika’s work on Instagram.

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