Onyinye D. A. is a young somewhat vibrant artist in the world of webcomics and animation. Onyinye went to school for 3D VFX which she realized was a mistake by her sophomore year but completed it anyways for various undisclosed reasons. She got a little more serious about drawing in 2013 when she began working on a comic for the school newspaper and when she also won a competition which featured her work in a D.C. gallery. She enjoys reading comics and watching cartoons which inspired her to create stories of her own. See more of her work at http://www.onyinyeda.com.
Black Girls Create: What do you create?
I try my best to create laughter by making comics but I’m not sure if that’s going well! (Just kidding, I think it’s fine). Comics are something I’m relatively new to and something I’ve been enjoying doing on the side. I really enjoy people’s reactions the most. It’s the best part of making comics.
I also make art. I’ve been drawing for a few years, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was in college. At first, I was making pretty pictures of pretty girls, but now I’m trying to focus on showing some sort of a story in my work, kind of like Norman Rockwell (idea wise). I still like making my pretty pictures though.
BGC: Why do you create?
I create because I like it. I’ve gone months without making a single piece of art and I didn’t really miss it. But when I grabbed my pencil and sat in front of my canvas and just drew something, it almost felt better than eating a warm piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream on the side. Creating art helps me relax. It can become frustrating when what I want to draw doesn’t come out how I see it in my mind, but generally it’s really relaxing.
I think social media changed my perception on art for the worse and I’m having a hard time changing it back. Before social media, I made art for me, but now I feel like everything must look good to share with the world. It’s why my social media pages (Tumblr and Instagram) are currently blank. I’m learning to change my mindset and create for myself and still share with the world.
BGC: Who is your audience?
I focus on young adult content. I’d like to talk about sex, love, and dating more intricately in my stories, but I also need more experience in those fields in order to really talk about it. At the same time, there’s also an audience for lack of experience in those things.
BGC: Who or what inspired you to do what you do? Who or what continues to inspire you?
My sister inspired me to start drawing (rest her soul). She was the real artistic one in the house. I sucked at it to be honest — I’m just glad it’s a skill, not a talent. She fell off of art and moved to writing, but I continued and became known as the artist in the family. She believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
My inspiration for my illustrations comes from anywhere really: other artists and illustrators, songs, prompts, random ideas in the brain, etc.
The inspiration for my comics, on the other hand, comes from my feelings or experiences. I feel like I have things to share and that it’s something people my age can relate to, so I try to say them through comics.
BGC: Why is it important as a Black person to create?
There aren’t enough Black characters in television. Personally, I want to add more Blackness to the media. I want to work in animation and as a person in the industry, I would like to add more diversity to the content we watch. In cartoons they often add that one Black kid to make it “diverse.” And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing that. But for now, as a comic creator and artist, I am focusing on making pretty art and interesting stories people can relate to. I just insert my Blackness and my Black experience into it too.
BGC: How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?
It’s hard to balance art with everything else, especially since I’m studying and writing. I’m just fortunate that my current job gets me out of the office so early in the day. Even still, it’s hard to make time to create without staying up late.
To help, I got a planner and try to plan out my days. At first, I was trying to get so much done in such a small amount of time, but I’ve learned from that mistake. I decided to make 2-3 goals per day and after those goals are complete, I can add another one if time allows it. For example, after work, if I was working on my comic, my goal would be to sketch it out instead of drawing the entire thing. This way I’m not stressing and I can get a good night’s sleep.
BGC: Any advice for young creators or ones just starting?
1. Just start. If you have a project in mind go ahead and do it. You’re probably afraid of failing and that’s okay. As LeSean Thomas repeatedly tweets, “DO IT SCARED.” I have many projects I would like to start (including getting back to my YouTube channel) and I’m very scared of failing. But it’s okay, just do it, and be happy with what you have. Because having something is better than having nothing
Also, DO NOT CARE the about likes, retweets, and shares. Just create whatever the hell you want.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Just focus on yourself. There will ALWAYS be someone with a different (or better) draftsmanship and style than you and it’s okay. You can admire them and use them as a goal for yourself.
3. Don’t defeat yourself. You are better than you think you are. Drawing takes time and practice. You need to work on it every day and focus on the main things in order to really improve. It’s very easy to get discouraged when it comes to drawing. It is a skill that requires patience and true love.
BGC: What are you current and future projects?
I’m currently working on an online comic called Welcome to the Workforce, which is a parody of my overall experience working. Hopefully the comic gains enough of a following that I can turn it into a book, because there are many things I would love to address.
I am also working on a children’s book that I plan on self-publishing this December or late January. And I have another comic coming out next year that focuses on being Black and dating. You can follow me on Instagram or Tumblr to get the news on when all of these and more will come out.