Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

The Spark Freestyle: Mike Asukwo

413

By Ayandola Ayanleke

Etim Bassey Asukwo, better known as Mike Asukwo by friends and family, is the Chief Editorial Artist of BusinessDay Media.

Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

Growing up, he had always wanted to be an artist, except for a while when he thought he’d like to join the army. “Growing up, I was always  doodling. If I spent more than five minutes around a surface, I was definitely going to draw on it, consciously or unconsciously.”

“That I was an artist was obvious right from birth. I had actually wanted to be a movie producer. I used to write scripts and direct plays (mostly comedies) even before leaving secondary school. Unfortunately, there was no art teacher at St Vincent’s College, Oron, where I schooled and so I couldn’t offer Fine Art in WASCE. It was a year after leaving school that I sat for Art as a single subject in GCE and got A1.”

“I was already studying Business Administration by then. At the end of my second year, I left the Calabar Polytechnic. About 3 years later, I was able to get into Yaba College of Technology to formally study art for the first time.”

Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

Mike Asukwo uses his art to highlight situations of the common people. “I try to bring some illuminations to the dark corners where the common people live. I look for the perspective we easily miss and draw our attention to them, especially where such situations arise from the failure of those in authority to do what there are handsomely paid to do. I have used my sculptures to draw attention to the plight of workers, the unsung heroes.”

“I feel art should do more than celebrate beauty, imitate nature or present objects for contemplation. Art should do more than that. Art should demand change, art should seek justice, art should advocate, art should spark reactions to situations.”

Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

“My art tries to do that, it gnaws at our conscience and makes us feel guilty when we err and then hang around our memory to deny us peace in our slumber. And my cartoons even provide the mirth out of the mess.”

On why he does a lot of political satire, “the business of living is impinged by many factors and politics is one of them. Politics itself is filled with absurdities, laughable rhetoric, comedic characters, and frustrating inconsistencies.”

“And satire is the best way of reporting or analyzing it. So I use humor, exaggeration, and innuendo to make my point, and by so doing I can communicate a complex political idea in a form that is accessible and resonates with mass audiences without being afraid of harassment.”

Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

“And since my cartoons are, by nature, embellished with humor, it endears them to the mass audience. The bitter pill of living, so coated in humor becomes easier to swallow.”

Asukwo is inspired by everything he sees, hears, smells, reads and feels around him. “The vagaries of the human condition inspire me. As I observe the struggle, the hustle, I keep looking for that which can make them more bearable. Sometimes we get too involved in our task that we miss the joy it should give us. There is always humor in every situation, once we find it, we can bear it.”

He was gracious enough to give his opinion on the mistake he thinks political cartoonists make. “I think one mistake some political cartoonists make is thinking their audience won’t get the joke. They underrate their audience by trying to explain too much and end up leaving their audience too eager to turn the page. Just like stand-up comedy, the punchline should be something to wait for anxiously.”

Political cartoon by Mike Asukwo on The Spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

Dropping a piece of advice, he said aspiring political cartoonists need to read, read and do more reading. “Political cartoons are mostly based on facts. They involve facts and figures, names, places, and dates, so situation referenced must be as factual as possible. If you are not sure of the facts, research or else you pick another subject matter. You are about to ridicule a big man, even without malice, you need to do your homework well.”

Connect with him via

Facebook: Mike Asukwo

Instagram: @Asukwo

Twitter: @Asukwoeb

 

Download our Edition


The Spark is a youth empowerment platform in Nigeria that projects the average Nigerian youth doing something, anything positive. Our mission is to reach out to as many youths, “EMPOWER and ENGAGE!!!