Creative Lives — How creating a poster a day helped graphic designer Osheyi Adebayo find his style

Posted 12 August 2019 Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Introduction by Anoushka Khandwala

Graduating from Southampton Solent University in 2016, Osheyi Adebayo has amassed a client list that ranges from Nike to to American band The Growlers and Nigerian afrobeat artist Lagbaja, along with press from the likes of Design Indaba, It’s Nice That and Behance. Armed with a love of the bizarre, much of his inspiration can be traced back to his upbringing – resulting in work that feels both nostalgic and futuristic. Here, he charts his path from education to the jump into freelance life, and recalls how a poster-per-day project helped him find his inimitable style.

Osheyi Adebayo

Job Title

Freelance Graphic Designer (June 2019–present)

Based

Greater London

Selected Clients

Wherehouse, The Growlers, Nike

Previous Employment

Pablo London, Junior Graphic Designer (2018–2019)

Place of Study

Southampton Solent University, Graphic Design (2013–2016)

Personal Website
Personal Social Media

Day-to-Day

How would you describe what you do?
I create experimental posters and bizarre illustrations, mainly for brands, musicians and creative agencies.

What does a typical working day look like and where does it happen?
Most of the time when I freelance it’s at home, and I usually work for five to seven hours, spread out across the day. When I have more than one task going, I’ll split my hours into three projects per day.

How collaborative is your role?
My role is usually independent, but sometimes I work collaboratively too, including on posters with designers who work in a similar way to me. We’ll feed back on each other’s work until we land on the final product.

What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
I really enjoy the process of creative thought being manifested into practice, and then deviating into something unexpected. The least enjoyable part of my job is probably writing emails.

Editorial design for ‘Lagbaja - Nobody in particular’, created while studying

Editorial design featuring artist Vaka Valo’s work, created while studying

What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
The illustrative poster designs I made for The Growlers’ tour [see below] and the weekly club posters for [Mexico-based venue] Wherehouse were my most exciting projects so far.

What skills would you say are essential to your job?
Having a well-developed personal technique, along with an understanding of the client’s vision, that correlates with your style.

Are you currently working on any personal projects?
It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a solid personal project, but I always find the time to create a poster or illustration every day!

What tools do you use most for your work?
My main gadgets are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and the iPad pro.

What inspires your work?
I get inspired by a lot of things around me, both physically and digitally – especially things that evoke a personal feeling of nostalgia. My usual source of inspiration would be a typical ‘blast from the past’. I’m mainly inspired by colour schemes and patterns from the ’90s and early 2000s, especially in kids’ shows like Rugrats and Barney. PC visuals and and Playstation games like Learning ladder, Learning Land, and Ratchet & Clank have also played a huge role in my design aesthetic.

How important do you think it is to land on one particular style as a creative?
In terms of having a distinctive style, if the goal is to get more recognition for your work, this really helps. For me, I was able to develop from getting out of my comfort zone; I learnt not be afraid of experimenting and exploring new ways of doing things. It also really helps to get inspiration from looking at other artists and designers with varied styles, through different digital and physical platforms.

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

Osheyi's work for Wherehouse

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How I Got Here

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be an architect, but I failed to realise how much maths and geography was required.

How do you think your upbringing influenced your choice of career?
My upbringing has had the biggest impact on my career, since a lot of what I remember – every visual and sonic nostalgic sensation – have become integral aspects of my design and art. This includes growing up listening to old Nigerian folk music and being interested in random sounds – whether it was the TV starting up or computer noises. These have all moulded my way of thinking; even if that sounds super cliché.

The memory of being a child has always given me the urge to recreate that feeling in my work, where every small, mundane corner felt like an adventure – giving it a raw, nostalgic and organic feel.

Do you feel you need a formal education for what you do?
I studied at degree level and, in my personal experience, it has been useful. It’s guided me in clarifying my career direction, and helped in making decisions that I wasn’t able to make with certainty until I was at the very end of my formal education.

After graduating (or first starting out), what were your initial steps?
I racked up a CV and portfolio, which I blindly thought was decent, then I tried to apply for as many design jobs as possible, and nothing happened. So then I decided to create posters every day as a personal project, until I actually found my own style. It took a couple of years to really find my feet.

Would you say you ever experienced a lucky break?
Thankfully, yes. Through my work being noticed in different countries, thanks to curation sites and publications, I was able to build up more clients and progress my career into something tangible.

“I decided to create posters every day as a personal project, until I actually found my own style.”

Osheyi’s workspace

What’s been your biggest challenge along the way?
My biggest challenges came when I found myself working on client projects where a skill was required that I didn’t possess, so I had to learn it during the length of the project.

What would you say are the biggest challenges associated with being freelance?
I would say one of the bigger challenges, especially if you’re working from home, is organising your time within a schedule. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking you can just do everything at your own pace, working in a bubble.

What have been your biggest learnings with making money as a creative?
One thing I’ve learnt is to understand your own value, and never do things for free, after I made that mistake too many times. I also find budgeting absolutely key in terms of maintaining balance with finances.

Personal work

Personal work

Personal work

Personal work

Personal work

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How important have you found social media and self-promotion in your work?
In my experience, promoting my work through social media has been very important. It’s been the main source for attracting clients and finding work opportunities. That’s the main reason why I try to post something at least every other day.

What would you like to do next?
My main goal is to expand my creative platforms and progress all my creative hobbies. I would also love to work on some awesome large-scale commissions!

Could you do this job forever?
Most definitely, I can’t see myself not doing anything that I don’t love.

Words of Wisdom

What advice would you give to an emerging creative wanting to get into the same line of work?
My advice would be to develop a personal style; know that everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and just get yourself out there!

Posted 12 August 2019 Interview by Marianne Hanoun
Introduction by Anoushka Khandwala
Introduction: Anoushka Khandwala
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Graphic Design

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