His names are Udegbunam Tochukwu Bernard Johnbosco, better known to many in the Nigerian design scene simply as UTBJ and if you think his acronyms are cryptic then you should meet his art.
We first come across UTBJ’s work online as one of the vastly talented but highly unsung Nigerian artists we try to promote on a daily basis on our Instagram page.
We bump into each other again in a chance encounter on the site of a Graffiti project for a popular Lagos brand, where his contribution to the visual masterpiece is nothing short of breath-taking, we realize introductions are in order and we want him for an interview.
Born and raised in a “small town” in Nigeria, UTBJ graduated with a BA Arts degree in Fine and Applied Arts from the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and as we learn from our interview, it took him a while to perfect his own distinctive and idiosyncratic style – combination of intricate lines, strokes and patterns which he employs to create truly hypnotic illustrations.
It takes us a couple of weeks to organize an interview and after speaking and experiencing his work, we are certain that this diminutive, unassuming chap is one too watch.
A bit about you
Born and raised in a small town in Nigeria. My names are Udegbunam Tochukwu Bernard Johnbosco, better known as TBJ.
I’ve got a BA degree (Fine & Applied Arts Department) from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Growing up as a little kid I’ve always love to scribble. I suppose I couldn’t stop…J
Your preferred medium?
I wouldn’t say I’ve a ‘preferred’ medium. Oil on canvas really caught my attention as an Art student back in school but I’ve enjoyed every medium I’ve come across so far and the end results been impressive.
A whole lot of contemporary Artists inspire me and…well it is quite difficult to pick a favorite because every single one of them is freaking awesome! The style of art, the creativity within, the pace of creating a new piece after another is really amazing and inspiring.
I so much admire the likes of Megan Hess, Budi Satria kwan, Lora Zombie, Sarah Golish, Mohammed Agbadi, Loish, Sergey Ishmaev, Serge Birault, Mans Greback, Jason Seiler amongst many…the list is really a long one trust me J
Your most cherished piece of work?
Hmmm…I think it was a pencil on paper drawing. Cubic shapes that formed a pyramid…yeah, because back then myself and my siblings loved playing this paper game…can’t recall the name right now but it was so much fun whenever we play it…and if I happen to be the one to make the drawing…haa! J
My number one source of inspiration is everything contemporary-African.
Ever stepped out of your comfort zone?
I always love paying attention to what other creative’s doing since we all strive to learn something new every day.
Yeah I am a proud foodie who enjoys cooking! …at least something edible though so you shouldn’t get your hopes high J hehhe :p
The hardest step in creating a masterpiece?
Show us 3 of your artworks and tell us a little about each:
Afro Inspired. Focusing on Downton Abbeys’ quote “we all have chapters we would rather keep unpublished”
Here I am celebrating the amazing beauty of an African woman…like what’s not to love huh?
The phrase ‘Heart Beat’ is very common in our society.
The illustration may not actually define the true meaning of the words, but will definitely give you a funny idea of what it means from my own perspective.
You can check out more of UTBJ’s work via his Instagram – u_tbj
Email- [email protected]