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Malik Afegbua | Nigeria | Be Adaptable

Fashion Designer | Artist | Filmmaker | Content Creator | Philanthropist

Known for: use of artificial intelligence technology in the field of arts

I am Malik Afegbua, a Nigerian fashion designer, artist, and filmmaker. I am known for my innovative approach to the arts by incorporating the use of artificial intelligence technology. In January 2023, I gained worldwide attention when I posted images on social media titled The Elder Series. The artwork showcased seniors on a fashion runway, dressed in stylish and colorful clothing using artificial intelligence. My portrayal of elderly people in a more positive light through AI generated images earned both praise and criticism. While some praised the unique artwork, others criticized the negative impact that artificial intelligence could have on human creativity. Nevertheless, my artwork challenged stereotypes about how older people are perceived in modern society. In 2011, I received a Canon camera as a gift from a friend, and this became a turning point in my life. I switched to arts and photography from being a business-school graduate pivot, and I became a self-taught filmmaker. I founded Slickcity Media, where I produced advertisements, commercials, documentary films, and virtual exhibitions. I use the AI platform Midjourney to generate images in response to text prompts and Adobe Photoshop to edit and crop related artwork. The Elder Series propelled me to the forefront of the art world, and I have received invitations to exhibit my artwork in France, Brazil, and the United States of America.

The inspiration for The Elder Series came from my mother's experience with a stroke. Working in conjunction with AI software, I imagined older-looking models in beautiful clothing. The World Health Organization recognized my unique artwork, calling me a major, positive contributor in the global effort by the WHO/UN's Decade of Healthy Ageing in combatting ageism. The Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter also praised my work, calling it "so dope" in an Instagram post.

What were some of the most significant challenges you faced initially, and how did you overcome them?

As an innovator and creative, I faced several significant challenges initially in my career. One of the biggest obstacles I faced was the lack of resources and support in Nigeria's arts and creative industry. There were limited opportunities for funding, equipment, and exposure, making it challenging to grow and establish my brand.

Another significant challenge was the lack of formal education or training in my field. I had to learn most of my skills through trial and error, which was time-consuming and costly. However, I was determined to succeed and turned to online resources and mentorship from established artists and filmmakers to hone my skills.

Additionally, when I started using artificial intelligence technology in the field of arts, I faced criticism and skepticism from traditionalists who believed that AI would kill human creativity skills. However, I persisted in my vision and continued to push boundaries by using AI to create innovative and thought-provoking artwork.

To overcome these challenges, I learned to be resourceful and creative in finding alternative ways to access funding and equipment. I also networked extensively and built relationships with other artists, industry professionals, and potential clients to gain exposure and grow my brand. Lastly, I learned to take criticism constructively and use it to improve my work, while also staying true to my vision and artistic expression.

What advice would you offer to young people who are just starting their careers or pursuing their passions, both locally and internationally?

I can offer some advice for young people who are just starting their careers or pursuing their passions. Here are some tips:

Follow your passion: Pursue what you love, and success will follow. Don't let anyone tell you that your dreams are impossible or unrealistic. Believe in yourself and your abilities.

Embrace failure: Failure is a part of the journey to success. Learn from your mistakes, take feedback constructively, and use it to improve yourself and your work.

Be persistent: Success doesn't come overnight. It requires hard work, dedication, and persistence. Keep pushing yourself even when the going gets tough.

Network: Build your network and connect with like-minded people. Attend events, participate in online communities, and reach out to people in your field of interest. These connections can help you learn, grow, and advance your career.

Keep learning: Learning is a continuous process, and it's important to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and advancements in your field. Attend workshops, take online courses, and read books to keep yourself informed and knowledgeable.

Be adaptable: Be open to new ideas and opportunities, and be willing to adapt to changes. The world is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay flexible and adaptable to succeed.

Finally, be patient: Success takes time, so be patient and persistent in your pursuit of your passions. Keep working hard, and eventually, you'll get where you want to be.

Social Media Handles:

@slickcityceo on all social media @celsafrica on Instagram ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍


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