Running a magazine with a deadline means you are always on the lookout for people that can deliver when they say they would. We first met Sunny Efemena when we were preparing for Omenana X.
We had a very tight deadline and, with just days to our publication date, some of the contracted artists failed to turn in their work so Sunny offered to take over their work. We were sceptical, but when he delivered quality material with time to spare, we were sold.
Sunny has gone on to illustrate other editions of Omenana and has become our go to guy when scheduled artists disappoint.
We got him to answer some questions for our artist spotlight segment.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
My name is Sunny Efemena, I hail from Isoko-north LGA, in Delta State, Nigeria. I did my primary/secondary school education in Warri. I attended Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo State, graduating with a HND in painting in 2003.
What comics or characters inspired you to be an artist and illustrator when you were growing up and why?
One of the many comics that inspired me was Justice League Europe, with art by Bart Sears and Pablo Marcos. But years before that, when I was younger, I came across a drawing of Red Tornado on a piece of paper. Back then, I didn’t know who the character was, but I kept it and since then I have been trying to create characters and stuff. Comic art is unlimited and gives room for self-expression and it is mad fun!
What is the most challenging aspect of being a graphic artist in Nigeria?
One of the challenges is that people hardly appreciate what we do. Maybe because the comic book industry here is still growing, people hardly notice what the artist does – unlike abroad where there is an established tradition. Also, the graphic artist is seen as an artist when we are ranked side by side with the traditional artist. Thankfully, that trend is changing fast.
You’re involved in a lot of other projects outside your regular job. Can you tell us which ones you’re currently most excited about?
Well, to tell the truth, I am most excited about this magazine [Omenana], because I am given a blank slate to fill in. I am free to express myself with little alteration from the client.
What strategies do you use to carve out time for sketching?
Nothing special, it’s just that drawing is now more of a habit than work. It takes 60 percent of my time, especially when am not working on projects from my employers.
What TV shows would you sneak out to watch right now?
Hmmm… that would be Band of Brothers (a war series on World War II).
What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
Well, Omenana tops the list, followed by creating characters and concepts for the comic MADAM WAHALA 2008 for Literamed Publications.
What was the most discouraging time in your career and how did you overcome it?
The most discouraging time of my career was when Comic Hut, an arm of Literamed Publications was shut down and I had to go teach. God! teaching was hell, because I couldn’t really fit in. It was crazy.
Looking back, is there anything in your career that you would do differently? Any major decisions you regret?
Yeah, there are some things I wish I learnt early, like how to market my stuff. I also wish I had learnt 3D design, even though I will eventually do so.
What is it you would most want to be remembered for when you’re gone?
If it’s life in general…I would want to be remembered as the guy who inspired others to be who they need to be.
View Sunny’s profile here.