Chime Anyawu better known as ChimeCDA is a visual illustrator and photographer currently studying at the University of Houston, Texas. In the past few years, Chime has created a name for himself and become on the preferred graphic designer for many Nigerian personalities. Chime also serves as Culture Custodian’s graphic designer. As such, I felt it was important to hear the story of one of one of the most impressive graphic designers who has taken important steps to establish himself in the creative market.
You regard yourself as a creative director. What are the varying components that combine to allow you give yourself such a title.
Well, I started off as a graphic designer but as time went on, I discovered new opportunities in other creative markets and expanded my reach into photography, video directing and other aspects, so I believe the title ‘Creative Director’ is more suitable and does not limit people’s expectations of my creative abilities.
Firstly, how long have you been at visual illustrations. Furthermore, visual illustrations aren’t very easy to do, I mean, I tried them out at a time and struggled. I assume your start wasn’t easy either. In the learning days, what led you to continue trying?
Haha, like anything really, starting is never easy. I started 6 years ago when I got my first laptop. I remember creating some illustrations with Picasa as that was all I could get on the home computer; but as soon as I got my personal laptop, I decided to get photo-shop. It started out as a bit of a hobby, but as time passed, I acquired a number of clients. Sammie (TOCH Photography) really motivated me and helped me get better; at that time, he was the only other teenager that I recognized or knew about, who dabbled in graphic design.
Who and what motivated actually you to become a visual artist? Also, who do you regard as role models?
The idea of creation motivated me to become a visual artist; I always wondered about things that I hadn’t tried. I’m rather quick at picking things up, so I put maximum effort into mastering crafts. I’ve always looked up to Duks Art, he is probably my favorite designer currently in the industry.
You’re still a student. What are you studying? How have you managed to ensure your job doesn’t affect your education?
I’m currently studying finance. I enjoy math; and it’s a lot of math and analysis which is what I like to do. I’ve got very good time management skills; my photography and design work are scheduled with great consideration around the time I put into school.
How supportive are your parents of your dreams?
They are extremely supportive. I believe most parents are supportive of their child’s dream as long as they get an education. I don’t encourage anybody to doubt themselves, but life happens and it’s always good to have something to fall back on.
You’re a photographer as well as a visual illustrator. These two jobs are considerably expensive. When you were starting out, who funded you and who funds you now? Also, what are your heaviest costs?
I wanted a camera while still in high school, as it was a bit of the trend at the time. The summer before SS3, while on vacation, my dad said to me, “If you get all distinctions in WAEC and get into a good school, I will get you a camera”, and he did keep his promise. Prior to getting my camera, I hadn’t discovered my true love for photography. The funding aspect is a bit weird; I’m still new to the photography industry, therefore my design work pays for most of my expenses. My heaviest costs are my Canon 6D camera and my laptop.
You’ve shot a wide range of activities from sports events to photo shoots for Playboy models to concerts. Which of these do you enjoy shooting and dread shooting most, and why?
I love shooting models and concerts. Models, because I shoot fashion and editorials and with those two genres there is no creative limitation. I also love shooting concerts because, I must admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for free live music. The opportunity to see your favorite artists live or even interact with them backstage and build connections is also one of the upsides.
I dread shooting events because I like to focus on action and I don’t enjoy my attention being split. As an event photographer you are very limited, you may obstruct people’s view and get yelled at for doing your job; it’s just a very tedious genre of photography.
What do you find most challenging about being a visual illustrator?
The competition. The designers you look up too are your competition, same goes for those you mentor. It also gets really annoying because the majority of upcoming designers work for free; people who don’t understand the essentials of a good illustration and quality branding hire them because they want a free design, or a cheaper alternative. Also I’ve had situations where a number of designers have used a concept of mine; a client shows them a sample of my work and because the client can’t hire me, they hire the upcoming designer to almost replicate it and tailor it to them.
Sometime ago you were accused of stealing a picture of Burna Boy and claiming it was yours while people said you had only changed the colors. Can you please clarify the whole situation?
An individual reposted, a picture of mine to Instagram and was given credit for it by Burna Boy. I edited and altered the picture to reflect a new concept. It wasn’t stolen, simply creatively altered.
How do you intend on growing the ChimeCDA brand?
I graduate next year, and hope to continue with my photography and graphic design. I plan to get a masters either here in Texas or in the UK. I would prefer it be the UK; it would give me the opportunity to work and collaborate in a different environment.
Right now you’re doing your thing alone, do you have any plans to expand your team and what exactly would you be looking for in someone you add-on?
Right now it’s just me and my “Partner.” I emphasize on partner because he isn’t a fully fledged partner, investment wise and all. He is like my manager, brother, friend and most times on my photo shoots, the stylist. If I do partner with someone, I would need them to be as consistent, creative and as controversial as I am. I would also need someone to help with the financial aspect of things as my “partner” does, because I tend to spend my earnings on unnecessary things.