Ep.89: The journey of a professional comic/manga artist with Odunze Oguguo (Whytmanga)

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Jan 12, 2018 •  Interviews

Odunze is a comic manga artist, storyboard artist, character designer and a writer, originally from Nigeria, now living and working from Texas, United States. He is the author and illustrator of Apple Black comic and Co-Founder of Saturday-AM, the HOME OF THE MOST DIVERSE SHONEN MANGA ANTHOLOGY SINCE 2013.

Get in touch with Odunze

Key Takeaways

“Always want to improve yourself and don’t quit!”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Odunze for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Odunze Oguguo, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome back to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists five days a week. My name is Iva, and my guest today is a doozy of Google, also known as white manga. In this episode, you will learn how to manage your social media presence, like your YouTube channel, and how to build your brand as an artist.

Odunze Oguguo  

I think it’s very important to get your name out there. It gives you a professional look when people plaster your work. Design is kind of like solving a problem. And visually that is something that’s representative of you.

Iva Mikles  

Domesday is a comic manga artist storyboard artists character designer and writer originally from Nigeria now living in working from Texas, United States. He graduated from University of Texas in computer science and fine art. He’s an author and illustrator of fo Blake comic and co founder of Saturday am the home of the most diverse shonen manga anthologies since 2013. He has a very popular YouTube channel where he shows his journey as a professional comic manga artist. And he documents his process of making his dream manga of fo Blake comics series on Saturday am on top of that, he publishes tutorials, articles, reviews contest, there is a specialist in coming manga update. So please, welcome are doing that. And let’s get to the interview. So welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have all these a year. Hi.

Odunze Oguguo  

All right, nice to not thank you for having me. And I appreciate being here.

Iva Mikles  

I’m super happy that they took time from your busy schedule and joined us here. And let’s just jump right into your like background. And maybe you can tell us a bit more about how you got to art. And when you decided, okay, I want to take this seriously.

Odunze Oguguo  

Um, I have been a lover of art and storytelling for a long time and video games, comics and TV, you know, all forms of entertainment, really. And I just always wanted to make sure I did something within that field. And I always felt that way. I felt that way for a long time. And it’s only recently well, not recently, but a few years back that I have like fully been engulfed in that I grew up in Nigeria. And in Nigeria, there’s still like, there’s you know, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of stuff going on. So I’m positive with some negative, obviously. And one of the negatives that go on in Nigeria is the lack of electricity. And you would have to find times and ways you have to be very creative and finding a way to entertain yourself. So as a kid, there’s a lot of going out. So I guess the pro of that you get to go out and exercise and play sports and stuff like that, when there’s no electricity to watch TV. And even sometimes when there is a TriCity isn’t constant, you could be like in the middle of a show, and it could just cut off and they don’t really care too much at least back then they didn’t, where it could just cut off to a different show at a specific time when you know you’re supposed to be watching a completely different show. And it was it was all over the place. The only constant things were like playing video games, but even then you still needed electricity to do all that kind of stuff. So basically in Nigeria for me and a lot of people my age, entertainment was a very strong commodity. And we found ways to entertain ourselves. And comic books don’t need electricity. So that was you know, that was one way I got into that. And I started drawing I like to draw, I drew like, you know the cartridges from a Super Nintendo like the covers for Street Fighter and just copy what I saw. And when we did get shows, like Western shows like a Superman or x man, Spider Man, I loved all that stuff. And that’s kind of what got me into it. I guess that was my gateway drug. And I just continue to do things draw continuously. And now I’m here one of the things is when manga and anime hit in Nigeria and people were again trying to get me into it. I was already I was already familiar with shows like Pokeyman but I wasn’t like pushed to make any content. It was until the shown in mainstream titles like a one piece bleach and an article came in. And then I’ve gotten golf in that world and start to you know, familiarize myself with other series and get influenced from that and long story Sure, that’ll push me to where I am today.

Iva Mikles  

So how old were you when you move, then how was it for you to kind of like, adjust to a new culture and you know, do the networking.

Odunze Oguguo  

The adjustment was actually not that hard. I had some I had siblings here. And again, you know, we tried to entertain ourselves any way we could. So I was already kind of familiar with two, I was as familiar with the Western culture as I could be through through media. And so I kind of already knew things. And that’s I came here when I was 16, for college, and kind of just tried to do college and do my art at the same time, I can’t, I’m here in Texas. And I was here, I graduated with a minor in computer science, and a major in fine arts. And now I’m doing my graduate school at Uta. As for for visual communications. So I’m an MFA here in Visual Communications Program, visual communications, basically, graphic design, visual communication design. And that’s what I’ve kind of been doing since then. And the networking part, especially building an audience doing all that stuff is once I saw the avenue to use the internet and take it, use it to my advantage, I started doing that, say, mid 2010, YouTube and Facebook and all the social media as they came. And so I can use that and take that to my advantage to build an audience, just in case, if that could help me break into the comic industry or break into doing some my own thing, whatever I wanted to do. Because I knew I didn’t have like a strong, huge backing behind me. So I saw other people using using that method method online. And basically did the same thing.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because like, even for people who just moved from city to city, that’s hard to do just networking. And but when you went to the University, that’s easier to like, meet people, because if you just start working, or you work from home, then you are like, Okay, I don’t know anyone.

Odunze Oguguo  

Yeah, exact. So the school also helps in connecting you to people and also educate, you meet less, sometimes you meet diverse minds, and you also meet like minded people, and it kind of just helps tie things and put things together.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so which were kind of the biggest decisions you had to do in order to get where you are now, like, of course, it was also the move. But you know, like, because running the company and doing the books and all of that, like after university, and you started the YouTube channel, what kind of happened in between, which are like kind of the biggest decisions.

Odunze Oguguo  

Um, I’ll say that. It wasn’t to me, it wasn’t, it didn’t even feel like a decision. It was like, at the back of my head, I’m like, I’m doing this no matter what happens, right? So I went to school, and they did all the things I needed to do in school, and I did my best to organize myself to do both simultaneously while doing the comic. And for those who don’t know, I’m the creator of a series called Apple black, which is published and serialized inside they M said they M is also something that came about in 2000, late 2013, where my partners are in North Carolina in the US, and I’m co founder offset the co founder of my footprint entertainment. And sadly I am said the pm has subsidiaries of my footprint, and said they M is basically like, like a Shounen Jump, but it’s digital and it’s here in the West. And as characters what we do that’s different from a Shounen Jump is that we have characters that are more diverse that are more representative of the world around you where you can see a lead with. For instance, in Shawn in mainstream comics, you rarely see a lead that’s maybe a black female in something like sad I am, you can see a young black female amputee as a lead of a series where she gets to be an engineer, but in the sense of like when you stick in that genre of shonen an engineer can mean a lot of things. Same way one piece has pirates, it redefines the definition of pirates or Naruto redefines the definition of what a ninja is. Here you have Smith and engineers and that definition is really redefined. And I have my series Apple black bully eater, Saigon and we all have our C’s and said the M said the Pm is something more adult class concentrated more on mature themes and more mature themes are being explored in that and the company. When that happened. I just knew that I wanted to play a role in that and making that a big deal here in the West because you don’t have that many avenues to break into comics here on the west. So a lot of these were not like decisions. For me. It was almost like yes, no, yeah, it was it went very smoothly. And I was still because for the most squat, I was still in school, I’m still in school. And I’m just taking everything I’m planning ahead. But I’m also take taking everything step by step. And we’re still working on my YouTube channel, the obviously the YouTube channel helped direct me. Because here you have you have a following you have an audience that wants to support you. And that’s good. First you’re watching my stuff and getting inspired and motivated to do whatever they want to do in life. And at the same time, it’s also an expert motivator for me to continue to do my work. And then sad am is also a big avenue, especially if it takes off in a huge way for my work. And like minded people like me, who have similar goals can use that as a, as a vehicle to get to where to be. So when it comes to like the decisions, these are like it, they are decisions, but they were like really easy, easy decisions. That wasn’t a monumental decision. I guess. For me, the biggest thing was just knowing that the content as a lover of storytelling, the content that I had was one I felt needed to be told in some way. If I lost my hands today, I will still find a way to tell the story. And once I think once you have, once you have that mindset, and you’re so so into your work, and into the process and the journey, everything kind of becomes clear.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so when you decided with your friends or like classmates, right that you want to do this, did you have someone who helped you to set up the company or advise you on like technicalities? And like, did you have a mentor or you know, all of that. So

Odunze Oguguo  

the so the I was actually approached by the founder of Frederick Jones, who had experience already in the business, being an executive in the industry, and helping bringing things like you do to America, or being an executive at Blockbuster. And so we already had that he was he’s the main founder spearheading everything. And I’m, I’m the one who came on board also came on board with my content. And I came on board with my contributions at the time. So everything figure out has kind of been smooth and easy for that process, because he has so much experience doing that. And not just me, but all my other peep colleagues are learning from that. And by the way, we are the co founders and just the people behind it’s the staff, the team behind that dam, which I love so much. We are all over the world. We’re real. Yeah, so I’m in I’m in the US, Fred’s in the US ravens in the US as well. They’re in North Carolina. But we have a girl Andrea feroce, from Hungary, who’s the creative side got me we have a creative, you have a creator. From Australia, we have creators from England, UK, we have creators from Japan, and it’s all over the place. So it’s also again, at the end of the day, we’re still taking advantage of this internet error, and doing the best we can with it.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you find people to work with like, it’s sometimes difficult to find someone who would, you know, like fit with you or like have the same vision? So how do you go about that,

Odunze Oguguo  

um, the way we’ve been working so far, sometimes people reach out to us because we’re not just looking for other creators we’re looking for. I mean, I guess they’re still creators, in a sense. But we’re looking for people to help with the team, graphic designers, web designers, and writers and things like that, or people that just do art, or just graphic art, web design, all that kind of stuff. And we have people who reach out to us, and we kind of vet you and see if it’ll be a good fit for us, or if we’re a good fit for you. And we make sure that that connection, we hit, there’s a good chemistry there, good communication, and you would work well with the rest of the team. And then when it comes to like getting in content, we have something we call summer of manga, where every summer, we try to find creators in the world out there in the world where we have some hashtag summer model where they submit their content to us almost like a pitch, like a pilot, and then review it, and then decide what we want to do from there on whether we want to have a one shot, which would be like maybe 50 to 31 page, short story, complete story that could run into digital magazine of am or pm depending on what kind of content it is where we feel it fits. And that’s kind of how we get new content at the moment. And when it comes to like job positions and things like that, or volunteer voluntary positions or internship kind of stuff. We we kind of just get messages from people who kind of see our vision and what we want to do and our mission and how we want to bring diversity to Manga comics because it’s very little and not just diversity but more interesting stories with a Western field but still have that Japanese aesthetic and pay respects to that as well. But we’re all over the place. We’re not in like a box at all.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so what are your thoughts about branding, you know, like, either the artist branding or the whole, you know, art company branding,

Odunze Oguguo  

I think is very important because you want certain things to be very recognizable at first clients. And I think we’ve done a really good job with because I would, for instance, I love the Sadie M logo on the foot. And that’s kind of like icon and everything I think was worked out great designed by Michael, Michael Ella, another person who is behind the behind the scenes, I think is very important to get your name, it helps get your name out there. It it has, it gives you a professional look, when people glance through your work. It’s, it’s it’s designed, right design is kind of like solving a problem. And visually, that is something that’s representative of you, and you want to protect it, you want to incorporate it into your work in very creative ways. And it’s important to give you that professional field, because nowadays, it’s very especially so one of the cons with the internet is that everything has kind of become a whole lot more competitive. So sometimes branding gives you that extra edge, you know, especially if it’s done properly and designed well. And very thought out, like your branding, I think is great.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, thank you. I’m really happy to hear. And

Odunze Oguguo  

so I try to do things where it’s almost like you’re almost like a digital signature, that that has different different forms. And I tried to do mine with my wife, my white manga stuff, all my videos, start with the logo, all my all my social media has white mug in it somewhere. And it’s you kind of want to also remain consistent, because you then you’d be also become easier to find. And it’s easier for you to recruit people.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because if some artists are just starting out, they’re just wondering, like, is it important to brand myself or how important is to have a certain style? So what was your experience? Maybe on YouTube, when you mentioned, okay, you had the logo there? Did you have like, I don’t know, like certain time of posting videos or the consistency there, maybe you can share some tips for someone just wants to start a YouTube channel as artists channel.

Odunze Oguguo  

Yeah. In which which, which has also been great. I think YouTube has helped not just art, but a lot of things. Help people do almost whatever they want to do. And starting out with YouTube is almost like its own beast completely. Where it you. Again, it’s not like as an all arts thing as everybody thinks. So once you you need to know how to be a YouTuber, first, or separately. And then you find creative ways to incorporate whatever it is you do. So one of the big things is, you know, coming up with a schedule of when you post videos in a time when you post videos and figuring out what that time is, is you looking at your analytics and figuring out where you’re you get the most traffic where the people view your work the most times when people are awake, where your audience is most most part awake to watch your videos when you’re posted. And making sure you get the most amount of traffic when your video get like comes out initially, at least in the first two hours. You want the most so sometimes, like Saturday, Saturday, noon ish is a good time. But again, this varies from creator to creator, if you have if you if you’re a creator in a country where all your your whole audience are only awake at a time where everyone in America is asleep, then you kind of want to figure out what works for you. And you’ll be able to view all of that you’ll be able to view all of that in your analytics, however you find the analytics. And another thing would be the content itself content is king. So even if no matter how if if your branding is great, everything is great, but the videos aren’t quality, you don’t you’re not using the quality camera quality audio equipment, then you’re also like you’re shooting yourself in the leg and putting yourself at a disadvantage. You want the content to be Premier. And you also want to develop two types of content or two or more where one is where you’re catering to the audience you already have. And then you want to have maybe a different type of content that is for getting new people. So in the art world sometimes a quick and easy way of doing this is fan art. So you’re using fan art to draw people in and maybe then then then expose them to other series you run in that channel and you kind of want to have you will kind of want to have a series find something that works for you. And keep doing that. And then also Make sure you’re tying in, again, the branding, and you’re tying in all your social media, the look and feel should be uniform still to at least to a certain degree. And you maybe are using playlists to help separate these videos on your channel, you want a channel trailer, or a video that kind of helps define or give an idea of what the channel is about overall doesn’t necessarily have to be a channel trailer all the time. But and then you want your channel to be designed properly, you want to be consistent in your uploading, you don’t want to upload for a while and then go stale for like, two months and try to come back You do lose and especially in the early stages of creating content, because you can lose a lot of your audience that way, because they’re not in that stage. It’s not like they’re super fans yet, unless you just want to make videos for your friends and family, which that’s that’s not the point. And so my thing would be obviously, it’ll be YouTube is so big. That is because I didn’t touch the anything about watch time where you want people to watch the full videos. And this is just YouTube, you still want to figure out how it works for Instagram, and Facebook and Twitter and all that because they’re all different. Exactly. They’re all different. So you know, for YouTube’s watch time we want, you want to make sure that people are watching your video, YouTube wants people to be on their website, so the longer your video can have them stick to your video, maybe they watch the full thing. And if the video is a longer video, maybe over 10 minutes, that also helps. Again, maybe with ads, but that’s again, it’s a long spiel YouTube wants people to constantly be interacting with you be interactive with the likes and dislikes. So you always have a call to action at the end of your video telling people to do those things like like the video, subscribe, and all that good stuff. And then you want more people you want people to be clicking on other videos at least like four to five after watching one video. So one video has to be so engaging that it has it, it pushes them to click on other videos. One way you see people doing this is having a series with episodes. Or if you have a very themed series, where maybe you talk about you talk in depth about a popular series. And then your next video is about a different popular series. If people like the previous one, and they’re fans of the next series, they want to know your thoughts on the other series as a similar example would be movie reviews. And so you get people clicking and clicking and clicking. And you also want to be a personality to a certain degree, depending on what kind of channel it is. Because sometimes you want them to connect with you almost more than anything else. So YouTube is like it, you can talk about YouTube for hours and how to find success with that. And it’s not like I found like the most success but like I think I’ve done pretty okay. And I’ve done pretty okay, so another advice would be to do the research, do research, research on how to tag your videos, how to title your videos, how to do the thumbnails, and there are other channels that focus specifically on how to be a YouTuber and how to take advantage of YouTube. And take advantage of your analytics and take advantage of tools and extensions. Like, for example, a two buddy that kind of helps you helps you navigate through your analytics and gives you even more analytics and suggestions of what types to use and how to title and put descriptions in your videos. Find those channels and watch them and learn from them. And as long as you’re constantly trying to learn how to be a better content creator, regardless of the website, whatever website it is, you will get better over time.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and it’s also good as you said, like keep the branding across all the platforms you use. So even if you focus on YouTube, then you have the same branding on Facebook, Instagram and wherever. And when you were talking about the different stories and because like yeah, some big companies might be like, Okay, I don’t want to go to edge of this kind of story and there is too much variety. Does it happen sometimes to you that you have negative comments on your content? And if so, how do you deal with that?

Odunze Oguguo  

With variety maybe? No, I

Iva Mikles  

mean, like if you ever have like negative content comments on your content?

Odunze Oguguo  

Oh, that is it’s inevitable especially here on the internet. You know, not you can’t please everybody. So you try to unless it’s critic, constructive criticism, then you can take it take it into heart, but if someone is just being mean or being for no reason, I’d say just ignore them. Sometimes I still read it because in between the lines they might say something that is true, but But in general, I try to ignore them. Because usually, you tend to pay more attention to the negative stuff, especially if you get good stuff all the time. Because you don’t expect anybody to not like it. And when someone not like, doesn’t like it, like why, why, you know, um, but I’d say don’t pay too much attention to it, it’s going to happen regardless, you can’t please everybody, for whatever reason, something happened somewhere, and that person doesn’t like your content, or they just flat out a troll, because they are subscribed to everything and the like, everyday, they there, they follow you and all this, all this other, all the other websites just mess with you. So it’s it, I just say don’t pay too much attention to the negative stuff, in fact, pay more attention to the positive stuff, and only pay attention to the criticism that you get that’s constructive. And I think that’s the best way to move forward, especially in the world of the internet, where those people like to remain anonymous, and you can’t talk you can’t meet them in person and you know, have a civil conversation with them. There’s no point in arguing online sometimes. So I’d say stay away from that rabbit hole, because that’s what it is. Yeah, it’s just never ending of this. I have. I have, for instance, I released in 2014, I released my book, Volume One, one of Apple black. And just last month, I released the second volume one, two, which are both available on Amazon, if you just search Apple black Volume One, everybody’s going to find it. Or the links. And again, as you I pay attention to the descriptions of all my videos and with things like to Buddy, I can literally changed all the descriptions on my videos with like, at once at the same time. But so the links are in the description to all the links, my social media layout, links are everywhere. So you want to kind of be consistent with that going back to our discussion on branding and being staying connected. But with these, I think these I think I did a good job with these. I think they’re pretty also pretty lengthy. There’s a lot of work that goes into them. And the first one especially had some quality issues, especially with the first print run. So sometimes you get you get some constructive criticism with that. And then you go back and you fix things here and there. You fix what you can, and but always look forward and don’t let don’t let perfection. Don’t let perfection, stop you from doing anything. Because at the end of the day, nobody’s perfect. Right? So but at the end of the day for these for these books, they’re the reviews I’ve gotten for them have been overwhelmingly positive for the most part. Congratulations. Thank you. They’ve been overwhelming, overwhelmingly positive, especially for the second book. But it’s still new, maybe the haters haven’t found it yet. Maybe the haters haven’t found it yet. But I think I was a pretty good job. And I think I’m also getting better from our standpoint and story standpoint, storytelling techniques and all that. And I tried to share and document my work, the good and bad for my audience, so they can learn from me and learn from the content itself. But you know, you will still get someone who doesn’t like it, you know, and for, and you may not, you may not always agree with them, or even you might not agree with maybe 10% of what they’re saying or more. But you pay attention to whether it’s being constructive and pay attention to the person, whether they’re even a credible source at all, for you to take advice from or and pay attention to whether it’s just flat out pointless mean trolling, and stay calm. And also protect yourself from looking crazy on the internet with with replies. You know, you don’t want to do that you want to stay professional, and just take it as it comes. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. If it’s constructive, then maybe you can have a conversation. And sometimes you can learn from the criticism you get. But from negative negative comments, there’s there’s so many types of negative comments, I just say pay attention to what type kinds they are and react accordingly.

Iva Mikles  

So it doesn’t also spiral to some crazy conversations and people are attacking each other and then

Odunze Oguguo  

people writing full blogs about why why you’re the worst person in the world or you know people making videos but but at the end of the day for me, especially if you do put out good content. If you do put out good content, the reviews and the responses you get will be overwhelmingly positive no matter what. I don’t I don’t worry about that too much.

Iva Mikles  

So How do you do now that the networking and marketing within the online space? Do you do it mostly through YouTube? Or other social media? Or people just reach out to you? Or maybe at the beginning? Did you like reach out to people through email? Or what was your networking strategy online?

Odunze Oguguo  

Um, I didn’t mind the way I did things, there’s so many ways to do things. And for instance, like I upload a video, I make sure everybody on my other social networks, know about know that there’s a new video out because not everybody’s subscribed Not, not everybody who follows you on Instagram, is actually subscribed to your YouTube channel, and vice versa. That’s just an example. So I always try to notify as many people as I can, with my whole network. What I, one of the great ways to expand your channel is to collaborate, collaborate with like minded people collaborate with people who expect you respect, collaborate with people who are more popular than you, and maybe not more popular than you at the same time. So it’s kind of like, you kind of want to be everywhere, not everywhere, but everywhere you feel, you can have a mutual audience, people, you respect their channels, and they respect you as well. And you guys have good enough chemistry to work. And sometimes you share. Sometimes you have people who already know both of you. But then most times is as a lot of like people who don’t know the other person and vice versa. And so you guys can share, share an audience. So what I did was I used to I collaborated with a lot of people. And obviously, it’s more is the sometimes I don’t even bother, because it’s very difficult to say Get, get to work with artists that maybe you really, really do like and respect, but they’re so popular, they you know, they’re not, they’re not, they’re probably not going to respond to you. Or maybe you you send them an email, and it’s really your response. And maybe they’re gonna sit there assistant or stuff like that. But you know, just keep trying, don’t be afraid to fail. And don’t be afraid to get to know, just keep doing your thing. And when the collaborations come, they come they don’t, they don’t. But collaborations on YouTube, regardless of what you do on YouTube, is a great way to grow your audience. And so I did a lot of that I did a lot of again, with the branding and making sure everything was connected. But key thing was the content. And I made sure that people knew what my talent level was bored. They knew what my goal was. Because when they knew when they know what your goal is, they sometimes depending on how you present yourself and present your work, they want you to succeed, because they might be living living vicariously through you. So when you succeed, they succeed. So I think content is still over everything, because YouTube is weird, man, you sometimes one video could just take off and your whole channel has changed. So as long as you are, as long as you are preparing yourself to take advantage of the opportunities when they come and laying down all the groundwork, you will be good. And sometimes it could be that collaboration. Sometimes it’s not the collaboration. But collaborations in general, are always a good way to boost your numbers for in the area of subscribers. So I did a lot of that I did a lot of making sure I created content, I did a lot of content, like I said you make several types of content, but one of them or a bunch of them, some of them should be content that you that brings new eyes to you. So I made sure to do my iterations, my versions of videos that I knew were already popular and trending, and maybe finding new ways to make them original. Because when people come to your channel, you want to make sure that okay, this is your channel, they’re coming to your channel, you’re giving them content they can’t get anywhere else, even though they’re doing you might be doing say for example, a trend or a channel or a challenge. Yeah, those. Yeah, you’re doing something unique with it to where you can be, they can only get it here. So you want that kind of content with the brings people in, you want original content that could be viral. And then you want content that is catered to the audience you already have, and making sure you’re taking care of them.

Odunze Oguguo  

Another thing is YouTube is pretty weird right now, especially with the ads and all that stuff going on that you know, maybe a Patreon would help and Patreon still has this community. And so there is an audience there that are maybe willing to support you don’t know about you. And so reaching out to stuff like that starting a Kickstarter sometimes could be what sparks the engines and more people find out about you don’t know where it’s going to come from. And so you kind of want to keep your ears so I made sure I kept my ears to the ground. Oh Facebook paid my help. I had a Facebook page, Instagram I help and Instagram has helped a great deal. You do an Instagram and it’s the same thing where on Instagram. You can’t it’s very difficult to just get everybody on your feet or on your YouTube channel to just go follow you on Instagram. One day, man, I some people don’t still today don’t have Instagram pages. So Instagram is the same deal where you want to keep your ears to the ground, collaborate with people interact with people. So it’s not just collaborations, but like interact with them and make it feel like a community that you guys care about the success of one another. Because the success of someone it’s not your failure, you know, I mean, so you like be supportive to others as well. And collaborate, be interactive, be interactive with the audience, you do have, and go from there. Those are all the things I did. And I also made sure to make keep my content consistent, and at least quality wise, always going up in that down.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I really like how you said as well, like, yeah, just shared the sexes, because also there is just not one cake, we can only just have a piece of that. But it’s like, you can create different stuff. And then you can just maybe create something together in the future or just if you don’t get one job, then maybe you’ll get another one or you create one.

Odunze Oguguo  

Yeah, exactly. So as long as as long as you keep going, and you don’t stop, you don’t quit because I’ve been doing this for a while. It doesn’t just happen overnight. Sometimes it does happen overnight. But it those are very rare cases. It doesn’t just happen overnight. I’ve seen channels go from I know a friend who started a YouTube channel and it’s not art. They started a YouTube channel in November. And all of a sudden he has almost two mil just last November to this November almost 2 million subscribers so it could it could it could happen anyway. It’s it’s crazy.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely because he’s like yeah, one of your videos go viral and then you’re like okay, yeah,

Odunze Oguguo  

I want one video goes viral if people like what they saw and all your content has been that way and you’ve been preparing for this opportunity when they watched the other video. Oh wait, this channel is awesome. And then they watch everything and they watch everything and then they enter your rabbit hole which is what you want.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and when we also talked about the ads on YouTube and also like making basically income for your activities and all the art so how does your income structure look like? Like maybe what is the main source of income? Is it the YouTube is it the books or kind of how do you combine your incomes

Odunze Oguguo  

I think right now especially because I’m still doing grad school my i I’ve set myself self set myself up to where I have several income streams. So that’s kind of what you want to do especially in the beginning sometimes you have to do a part time job to make this work so that when this does take off you be able to break that off if you want or keep it up keep it on as a hobby. So what I what I do I my revenue comes from the books I sell and which have done pretty well Volume Two is actually for new newly released manga in the fantasy category it was number one it’s not it’s not number one anymore but it was number one so I get I get revenue from that and that’s that the book the good things about good thing about a book like this it’s not going anywhere so therefore it’s literally there

Iva Mikles  

sitting on Amazon

Odunze Oguguo  

is there forever no matter what I do it’s there so I get I get some revenue from that I get revenue from YouTube YouTube has kind of been a little weird because as situation I had like two videos that did nothing wrong but it did get they did get hit with the like their flag algorithm if

Iva Mikles  

you like not approved Yeah,

Odunze Oguguo  

I did I did I did appeal and get it approved but for the time that it wasn’t approved at the time for the time that it wasn’t the doghouse you know obviously lost some revenue there but it’s happened I guess maybe three times really and to to have gotten back but I still have a lot of videos that haven’t been touched at all and I just think so I made sure YouTube is one way to do it. Another thing with YouTube is maybe not from the ads also with sponsorships and some people want you to share work. So for instance, I have I got like a display tablet right to and people that just want me to basically just use it but I got it free and sometimes you can actually get some money from that their websites like say Skillshare that we want to work with you and so you can get money from working with brands and companies. So that’s one revenue so I’m so it’s and then working in the school. With a scholarship here, I also get some revenue from that. And then running the magazine running the magazine right now it’s still in its very early stages. So there’s, that’s not my primary source at all. But you need several, especially in the beginning stage, to make everything work to get to the level you want to get to. And then you can kind of cut things off, cut, scrape things off on the side. One way I see people who find a lot of success, especially when they have access to a lot of people they want to see them succeed is taken advantage of things like Patreon. And taking advantage of things like a Kickstarter, if there’s something specific you want to do. But Patreon mostly because Patreon is ongoing. Right. And as long as as long as you cater to your patrons, you should be good, especially depending on how many you do have. So Patreon itself gets its own beast, this is on website. So you need to do the research on how to run a successful Patreon campaign. And let that be a new source of revenue for you. And then you see people that do things with merch. So it’s like a big beast, there’s like this big machine, that you have to run everything until you know something takes off. So well, then then you can kind of cut things on, you know, cut things off.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so when you were talking about the sponsors, did you contact it some of them? Or did they find you? Is there some kind of way where someone can just find okay, I would like to see like a list of different sponsors, or you plainly go for like brands you actually like and you’re using?

Odunze Oguguo  

It depends on it depends on you. It depends on how big you are, it depends on what your goals are, depends on what you want to do. There are some people that are big enough to where yes, you can pick and choose what brands you want to work with. There are websites like FameBit, and there’s so many websites where they connect influencers. That’s what they’ve coined us now. There’s two brands. And to make that connection, maybe the website takes a cut or whatever. But there are sites that do that as well. So you can meet brands and meet brands that you know would fit what you do because you still want to I don’t want to I don’t want to do an ad for a couch

Iva Mikles  

that doesn’t fit with their content.

Odunze Oguguo  

It doesn’t fit with my content, right? So you want to meet with you want to meet and connect with people that fit with what you do. So maybe drawing apps drawing tools. For me, right? Yeah, I tend over either on your channel. If your channel is about couches, then yes, you should probably do couches, you know, I’m saying. And sometimes the brands reach out to you when they see that your channel is doing well. And sometimes you reach out to brands where they find you. You can find them on websites and show them what they offer. If they don’t know about you show them what you offer them, show them what you can offer. Sometimes you don’t use those sites, you can reach out to the brands directly. And there are people who have agents who are actively doing this because doing that, because that’s their job. So it depends on how if I was so big, you know, I’d probably have a bajillion brands in my emails trying to connect you know, if, if it made sense to work with me based on the kind of audience that I have. So it’s a combination of everything. Sometimes you reach out to them sometimes they reach out to us sometimes you both find each other on the website. Sometimes they know about you and you don’t know about them and vice versa. It’s it’s it’s a big jungle, but in the it all varies and depends on what kind of creator you are and how successful you are as a creative depends on the Creator. First, yeah. in mind.

Iva Mikles  

So if you think about like, your whole art journey, is there something you wish you knew before you started?

Odunze Oguguo  

I think stuff like that is inevitable, be huge. I would just be in a bob, there’s so many things I wish I knew. But as a as an artist, as a creator. I guess the mistakes I was making was the quality of my content. I wish that was better in the beginning. But you know, you still have to start from somewhere. So it’s not even something I regret is just Yeah, I will say the big thing for me starting off as a comic book creator was to because so first off, there are so many things that I wish I did better or so many regret things but I think one of the top ones was, as a creator, especially in the beginning was the way I viewed comics and the way I viewed manga and content and how they the importance of diversity with the characters and the support the importance of inclusion in the original content. So I see a lot of new creators when they start off With your comics they make for instance, if you’re inspired by one piece or an art horribly, then all their characters are Japanese. And, and then the story takes place in and but they’re not from Japan, they’re not from Japan, they don’t know anything about Japan, they’ve never been to Japan, and then your whole thing just comes off very unoriginal or not so authentic or not as authentic as it could be. And if you’re starting out, and your artwork is not where it needs to be, your story is not where it needs to be. And it’s and then on top of that, you still have that stereotype, stigma, whatever of trying to be Japanese when you’re not, right. And some people misconstrue that with St. People saying, you couldn’t be a manga artist, if you if you if you weren’t Japanese, or if you didn’t go to Japan and things like that. But I think they’re two different things. I think that’s wrong, I don’t think you need to go to Japan or be Japanese to be successful in that comic world, what I think is completely different of trying to from trying to be authentic, there was nothing wrong with not being from Japan and creating, trying to create Japanese work. But it only it truly only truly works. If you’ve done your research. And you’ve done enough research to where you can’t, you can pull it off, and you know the rules before you can break it. So it’s not about even being accurate to history or the culture there. But knowing the culture first to then guide you to know what you want to do after or what you want to do add to it to x in your execution to make it original and make it work. And I think people try to skip this step, and just do whatever they want. Right? Without the research. Yes. Without without without research without knowing not knowing the rules. And just trying to where you can break the rules. If you don’t know, you know, and you can’t hide behind that and say, Oh, this is I can do whatever, because you can do whatever you want. But don’t expect don’t expect it to be successful. Don’t ask why it isn’t successful when you haven’t done the research. And I did do the research in the beginning. But one thing I didn’t do was just understand things about diversity and why was important. So in the beginning of my work, I didn’t have characters or color as much. I did have them. But because I was not thinking in that mindset, I didn’t you know, I didn’t have them as much at the I just saw it as normal. Because growing up, that’s all I saw. I didn’t see that many characters that look like me. I didn’t I didn’t think about it too much. Right. So it’s not just in comics, but in media in general. So just just the was big other discussion. Yeah. In media in general. So is is me not seeing that early enough. I wish I did. Because then I think there’ll be certain things that will be different in the way I think, and the way as a creator in general. And the way I produce my work. I just wish I did more research in that to understand it the way I do now. And I think my work will be even better.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. Yeah, I think Yeah. Now, you can do it in your new book. Yeah, I did even more. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. As you mentioned, like you do, like, what do you learn you implement in the next project you do, and the next one can be even better than the previous one?

Odunze Oguguo  

Yeah, the goal at the end of the day is to always keep trying to improve on all fronts as a human being even. But as an artist, our storytelling and your channel the videos with each video, you want the new the latest video to be better than the next. Sometimes it’s inevitable. And that’s not the case. But at least that should always be the goal. And over time, you should try to see, try to find and make improvements and see progression in the work in the work that you’re doing. So I think the scary thing for me is where maybe my work just hits a ceiling. You know, and I don’t want that to happen. Because I know that’s not going to happen, because as a creator, there’s still a lot of things that I want to improve on. I know I can’t improve on there’s still a lot of things that I don’t know. And there’s still a lot things that I want to learn. So I think my bucket is not full at all.

Iva Mikles  

So what about the future then? If you think about what would you like to be remembered for in like 100 years or 150 years? Or maybe what is your goal in like 10 years? And what do you see you’re doing?

Odunze Oguguo  

If I cared enough about being I guess it would be cool to leave a leave a legacy of something and be remembered for something I guess, but I guess if there was anything, it would be my work and my impact and the impact that the work has had or just me as a person has have had on people to make their lives better in any way. Really. So but from a professional standpoint, I guess it would just be too, for people to see me, someone like me, who came from a place where stuff like this is extremely rare to end up where I am creating it and having it be successful. And maybe, maybe a video game and that black video game or because the video game or an anime comes up that is successful to so that it can reach more people than they can see. See my journey starting off? And maybe that inspires them to do to get up and do what they want to do as well.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I totally love that. Because people are sometimes worried like, oh, but maybe, you know, others started already too, like, early and I’m too old to do this or, or whatever like that. So yeah, definitely, that’s perfect. And maybe before we say goodbye, we you can share the last piece of advice or like key takeaway, and then we will slowly finish.

Odunze Oguguo  

Um, I think my advice would be to continue watching each other’s channel. Because there are a lot of people who are going to have good advice for you. And the advice is not going to be the same. So I’ll just keep mine short, even though I can talk about advice forever. But I guess one to always want to improve yourself. And never give up, don’t quit. Because I’ve seen a lot of channels who are kind of like me, in fact, they were ahead of me. And they just people are different, though. Like I don’t want to I’m not criticizing them for quitting or leaving the safer. For instance, the YouTube, the YouTube space.

Iva Mikles  

Basically, you know,

Odunze Oguguo  

I don’t know what’s going on in your life. But you know, what’s going on in your life? And if you’re just quitting, because you’re just quitting, then you know, you’ve wasted time starting to begin with, right. So my biggest advice would be to, as cliche as it sounds, never give up.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. Yeah, I love this. And it’s a perfect way to like, finish the conversation. It was a great advice. And thank you so much for being here.

Odunze Oguguo  

Thank you for having me.

Iva Mikles  

Thanks for sharing your artistic story. It’s amazing. And yeah, super happy. Thank you. And thanks, everyone for joining and see you in the next episode. Hope you guys enjoy this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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