Illustration grad’s project
unmasks life as a ‘quiet kid’

After struggling with moving away from home and family, BA (Hons) Illustration graduate Promise Oladimeji conceived a striking and empowering project to help others understand her experience.

14 Jun 2024

Following her move away from the family connections and familiarity of East London to study in Farnham, BA (Hons) Illustration student Promise Oladimeji says that at times she felt out of place, and unable to show her true self. So she decided to turn those feelings into a stunning and empowering final major project.

Her project, titled Alienation, explores her feelings of social isolation and their emotional and physical manifestations. She showcases them in series of illustrated masks, which – when put together – show how suffocating and uncomfortable it is to try to keep up multiple facades at once.

“For better or for worse, I’m always brimming with emotions, so using this as my theme worked in my favour – there was a lot of content to investigate,” she says.

“The main part of my project is a showcase of masks: different ones that I may find myself ‘putting on’ in various situations. I created each one with a unique design so that it would be clear that they have distinct functions."

Alongside the masks, Promise has produced a booklet explaining her work in more depth, and a lyric video inspired by the work of Young-Hae Chang, which features an upbeat tune she composed herself, and childlike illustrations, juxtaposed with more sombre lyrics. Every element has been carefully and deliberately crafted - from the colour choices to the silhouettes and the patterns on the masks.

A poster of nine masks designed by Illustration student Promise Oladimeji
The poster Promise designed, showing the many masks that encapsulate her feelings of exclusion.

Promise hopes that putting her feelings into the public sphere will mean that audiences can better understand her as a person:

“I’d like people to understand what goes on in my mind (and possibly the minds of other ‘quiet kids’), when I’m sat in the corner with earphones jammed in, seemingly reluctant to jump into a conversation when, in reality, I just feel unable to,” she says.

“This is how I feel and act in almost every social scene that I find myself in, unless I’m around my family. It has been weird externalising to publicise an experience that has been so personal, but I think these features are what make my project so dear to me. My passion for this topic is what drove me to tirelessly create so much for it, and in such depth, and I’m very proud of my outcomes.”

A picture of Illustration student Promise Oladimeji, who is smiling
Promise Oladimeji

Promise hopes her showcase at this year’s Grad Shows will help propel her towards her ultimate career ambition of publishing a successful webcomic. In the meantime, she would like it to open some doors for her with potential freelance work, or illustrating children’s books.

Recently, she’s taken part in UCA’s Winter and Summer markets, which have proved a real highlight of her time here.

“The Markets were the first time I really put myself out there to publicly sell my art, and both were  fulfilling experiences. I really enjoyed discussing my pieces and general style with people, and it was an honour to see them show an interest in my art, as well as buy it,” she says. "They have even made me consider applying for external markets and conventions to continue to share and sell my art!

"For me, the UCA experience has been one of development. Recently, as I was clearing my heinously jam-packed camera roll of uni pictures I didn’t need anymore, I came across some of the art I’d made at the beginning of my course in 2021. After I was done grimacing at my lack of technical skills, I could only marvel at how far my art has come since then, and how my personal style has really developed. It’s been a long, but necessary, journey.”

You can see Promise’s project, and hundreds of others, on show in our 2024 Online Showcase and at UCA Farnham from June 13 to June 25. And if her work inspires you, why not check out our Illustration course?