“Every Nigerian child or person has a creative side” – Emem Didymus #NaijaCreatives
We live in a visual world where what matters is what we can see. What we see gives an impression on our mind and we are capable of inferring several things. Those who bring invisible ideas to light are called creatives. They are the misfits Steve Jobs was referring to, one of such people is Emem Didymus. Emem is a proud Nigerian creative and fondly called the Billionaire designer. YC had a chat with him recently and he had this to say about his journey so far.
Please introduce yourself?
My name is Emem Didymus, a purposed graphic designer geared towards providing creative solutions most especially in the sphere of brand communication designs. I am a designer with a goal of making a positive impact using design as my medium.
I specialize in brand identity development and logo designs working with the brand Teba Creative Agency (a creative outfit with a focus on brand identity and brand communication designs), where we help brands and businesses own a professional appearance by creating quality brand visual identities.
How was growing up like? Your primary and secondary school days?
Growing up was quite fun, though with some few challenges here and there. I spent my formative years, living in the heart of Yaba, where I had my primary and secondary education at All Saints Anglican Primary School, Yaba and St. Finbarr’s College Akoka, Bariga with a deep desire to become someone great.
I was so carefree like every other young child during this period. Also, being a strong fanatic of football and video games really got me involved in some street football competitions mostly around my neighborhood. At some point, I thought I would end up being a professional footballer.
What was your aspirations growing up?
Growing up like I earlier said, was becoming someone great. Though channeling my prospect further I became attached to the science world, so becoming an engineer was a well-defined aspiration as at that time.
A whole lot changed, moving ahead in life, I encountered some other directions that gave me joy and desire into becoming the person I am today, which is, being a brand identity designer. Changing from engineering to designing was a very intentional decision and that was what changed for me.
What got you interested in design?
Every child or person has a creative side, while I was much younger I had an affinity for art related matters and I was also a lover of cartoons and animated movies, even while in secondary school I made good cash doing some biology and fine art drawings for my schoolmates and kids around my environs.
So with such background, when I encountered design and discovered the ability to make creative works that are appreciated and even paid for, while also having some flexible time made me more interested in design and it grew further into making a decision to take up a design career.
How have you survived as a graphic designer?
Survival as a graphic designer has been a continuous journey like every other profession. There is a continuous push to stay updated, relevant, learning other related skills and also being valuable as a graphic designer, not also minding the fact that you have to make much money to settle your needs because we (creatives) also have bills to pay.
Also, being a good and experienced creative, some employers or potential clients tend to still take your role for granted and then devalue your service. I have always been an advocate of nurturing a designer’s value, and especially in their earnings, because, we are in a digital age where people see you first before you are being heard. In such cases, visual products in terms of graphics, illustrations, photography, videos, websites and so on are some effective driving force to a brand/business presence. The better you invest in a very good professional, the better you get the right value for your money.
It takes years of practice, self study, sleepless nights, tiring and teary eyes, broken relationships, and so on to keenly give all the attention, dedication and time into being a good designer that will create good works for the right purpose in any sphere of the industry.
Have there been times when you felt like quitting graphic design, if yes why and what got you back on track?
Yes definitely, there have been. First was when I was still confused about my career path, deciding whether to focus on my marine engineering career or move ahead with designing, the second time was when I was a tutor to a child whose parents where both lawyers and trust me, there came a day his mum talked down on the value of being a designer since his child was interested in the field, with all the talks of “Artist are hungry people without a good future”.
Other times were when I fail to meet up with some financial expectations and also gaining some highly perceived level of recognition/value of the essence of design from clients and the society, but in all of this I have strived on my passion for the craft, focus on my dreams, dedicated myself to the course of my career as I have pre-informed myself that there will always be downtimes and finally, trusting on my journey so far, to see this to the end.
When was your first big break into the industry?
Well, I am still looking forward to bigger breaks but I would say my first big break was months after my internship in 2014, I was a member of a team that built one of the pioneer platforms to create personalised and unusual gift ideas in Nigeria. I have also worked on projects with local and international brands in the likes of Kellogg’s, Indomie, Techpoint.ng, Xclusive 2 Divinity(X2D), Launch & Grow Biz With Tarin White, IrokoTV, CityFm, Diamond Bank and GreetingsWorld, to mention but a few.
How can one become a graphic designer?
Well, formally, after you have identified your interest in the field, you follow through the route of art/design in your early education and also pursue related courses up till university level, studying courses like graphic design, fine arts, visual arts, visual communication design, advertising, mass communication and so on. This way you have a formal background knowledge of this path, then your journey into continuous learning and self-development goes on, where you keep getting better and staying relevant.
It requires focusing on design/art related platforms online, downloading a lot of video tutorials, studying the fundamental principles and elements of design, practice and make errors without being ashamed or getting hard on myself for those errors and also understanding that being a graphic designer or brand identity expert does not happen in a fraction of years but rather it’s a continuous journey of learning every day. It’s quite amusing, seeing ads these days to come learn and become a professional designer in 2 weeks.
How do you handle customers who have no clue as to the value of work you do?
It’s straightforward, I try to always educate them to the best of my ability by showing them a resulting effect of the value of my work and their perceived sample. If that doesn’t work, I let go.
What plans do you have for the future?
My main future plan along other stuff is making a positive impact through design in the area of mentorship, problem-solving, design education. Also educating most clients I work with on the benefits of having and acquiring a proper brand identity system and guidelines to ensure visual consistency since it’s a challenge I face now while also taking some front roles in other creative fields.
What are your final words for young Nigerians out there who might want to be like you?
My final words for every young Nigerian out there is that it takes time to become golden and when you become gold, you will appreciate the reason you have to go through fire. Be steady on your journey, keep your faith stronger, avoid being pressured by your peers or the society, be dedicated to your passion, be diligent at what you do, recognise and appreciate your values. Life will never be easier, we only get stronger.
“The truth be say, many are called, many are chosen, only a few take a distance” – Sarkodie