How I received right here: Dapo Adeola
British-Nigerian illustrator and designer Dapo Adeola became a household name after his book Look Up! the first picture book debut of 2019 was illustrated with a sequel with Bryon, as well as several other books. He has also built a loyal social fan base and won the Waterstones Children's Book Award in 2020.
This summer he publishes the first children's book that he has both illustrated and written. Hey You is meant to be a "lyrical, inspirational exploration of Black's growing up." Adeola has also brought together the talents of some of the most exciting black illustrators to tell the story through their images.
Here Adeola talks about the long road he has taken to get into the industry, how he challenges stereotypes about race and gender in his characters, and the reality of learning in the workplace.
Above: Rocket with Jamal, illustration from Look Up! Above: Rocket from Look Up! All pictures: Dapo Adeola
About his first experiences with illustration I got into art and design just by reading and appreciating the illustrations in the books I read, and cartoons and video games too. My earliest memory of actually drawing was when my best friends and I were just drawing our favorite cartoons and levels from our favorite video games when I was seven. From then on, it was just a natural progression to comics, comic book art, anime, and all the usual stuff that makes people do it.
Don't go the conventional way I studied graphic design and advertising at a college at Croydon College. They taught the University of Sussex degree there, but we didn't have all the extras that you get when you actually study at the university. (The course) was completely different from anything illustration related. So I was the kid in the class who made all of my panties so I could illustrate. I failed because I spent a lot of time doing the opposite of the course.
Since then, I've understood higher education a little better, and that shouldn't have happened. If they had seen me illustrating in the first and second years, they should have given me some hint or direction that I was on the wrong track. But you know, that wasn't in their interest, they were more concerned about getting bums on their seats.