Art director NIYIOKEOWO breaks down the process of creating the artwork for Fireboy DML’s ‘Apollo’
Rising Nigerian Superstar Fireboy recently released his sophomore project Apollo. The genres and sonic themes explored in this project are different from many African pop songs, especially from Nigeria. In the boom of afrobeats and afrobeats inspired sounds, Fireboy went a different route. Toying with r&b and soul-infused tunes, Apollo is a unique and exciting entrant into the African music scene.
However, not only does Fireboy pay attention to his music, the art direction for his sophomore takes on a detailed approach; showing consistency in style, theme and underlying message. We spoke to NIYIOKEOWO, the artist responsible for the art direction for Apollo on its creation process.
NIYIOKEOWO is a multidisciplinary Art director and photographer based in Lagos, Nigeria. His focus lies in Art direction, branding, and photography. With over 8 years of experience, he has worked with numerous established brands and startups to create experiences, identities, and visuals. He also creates colourful illustrations under the moniker @hellomrcolor. His art pieces have been featured in Future London Academy’s ‘Design The Future’ Global Collaboration and Dear Designer. NIYIOKEOWOW is also responsible for our dope playlist covers.
What made you decide to work with Fireboy
I had a shoot him in the past and the relationship was very respectful and mutual. It just made a lot of sense when the brief landed on my table. It’s always easier to create with people who respect you and what you do.
What was the overarching idea for Apollo?
To basically show his growth and variety. The (album) name was inspired by ‘Apollo’ the Greek god of healing, medicine, archery, music, poetry and the sun.
What was the process of creating the artwork for Apollo
We had a listening session before all the features were added. I like to listen to the music and take notes. After the session, I shared my notes with him, basically on how I had interpreted the music and album from a visual angle. He made some corrections here and there, and I had the right information to start the conceptualization process.
We see a symmetry between the colours on the album art and the single artwork as well, what informed the choice of the colours and style used?
It’s very easy working with Fireboy because he knows what he likes and doesn’t like. I shared a bunch of artworks and album covers with him that I felt reflected the music. We were able to break it down to certain colours; from blue, yellow to magenta. He wanted it to be colourful and vibrant, but still within reason. It’s my job to turn a lot of his ideas into realistic visual expressions that fit the whole idea for the album. Looking at the album as a complete ecosystem of covers, singles, colours and typography, as opposed to just looking at it as just a front cover and back cover.
OPTIONS FOR FRONT AND BACK COVERS FOR APOLLO
What does Apollo represent for you?
A complete album from start to finish, because we played around with a lot of ideas.
Do you think artwork/cover affects how music is received in your opinion?
I think so. Especially the single covers. We were very adamant on making sure each cover + single felt like a different experience. From the colourful gradient skyline imposed over New York City in ‘New York City Girl’, having a picture of him and a New York skyline underneath to kind of depict him having a conversation with someone who is absent…. to ‘Eli’ which is basically a play on Medusa and Delilah. The girl in the song is bad for him, but he is still in awe of her and can’t stay away… to ‘Tattoo’ which uses a still from the video shoot that reflects the mood of the song.
In what other ways can art and music live together besides artwork?
A lot of ways. There’s still the merch side, toys side and AR/VR side. There are a lot of unexplored possibilities. Then again the industry is still growing visually… They will get there when they are ready.