It is not usual to find a young Nigerian with all the odds stacked against him to use all the spiky, hard rocks in his path to mould himself into a shiny piece of diamond. The stories of such triumphs, though widely celebrated when they come into light, are a rarity.
In and around the tacky ambience of Egbeda, a densely populated Lagos suburb, a bubbly young man with nothing but his Computer Science certificate dreamt of creating magic with his hands and brain, with so much expertise that would blow minds, and he never for once took his eyes off the goal. This, he has made happen, with a determination that puts his background to shame.
His name is Dare Okesanjo.
When Dare first thought of bringing the world to his fingertip through his creativity, he was only a rap and poetry lover who was desperate to make his own album covers. In 2010, he engaged in the recording of a number of radio jingles including for Radio Continental, while also acting as a side-kick for the Rooftop MCs.
But he wanted more and was short on resources, owning nothing but a machine that wouldn’t give him the desired result. He began to watch videos in his bid to self tutor, as he couldn’t afford to pay for artworks as an upcoming rapper back in 2013.
He would eventually secure a job in 2014 as a graphic designer at the NET newspaper and under the supervision of then music journalist Osagie Alonge, who involved him in the planning and designing of the entertainment paper’s print and online editions. From the moment he stepped foot into the building sitting at the heart of Ikeja, Dare never looked back.
After eight months of working in that capacity, he quickly rose to the position of a respected graphics designer with a redeployment to BHM (the PR arm) where he worked as a support for series of PR Campaigns for Fayrouz, Heineken, Star, Viacom, Maltina, Amstel Malt, Kroll etc.
And after two years of celebrated work, Dare had evolved from being just a graphic designer to a motion graphic designer who has mastered the art of storytelling with multimedia tools. He was then moved to the Digital team, ID Africa – in 2017.
At ID Africa, the superstar found home as an Art Director, creating and providing brilliant design solutions to brands and campaigns like OneLagos, Lagos at 50, Heineken 192, American Honey, Coca Cola, MTN, MTV Shuga, Binomo. And by the tail end of 2019, Dare had found himself creating a topclass teaser for Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B’s visit to Lagos.
When Dare is not creating masterpieces, he is bopping his head to hip hop music and watching spoken word and poetry on YouTube. He also hasn’t forgotten his day one passion, as he occasionally absorbs himself into productive music debates as well as swag-filled freestyles in the office. He was indeed the face of NETng’s Rap Report for the time it ran, sharing the mic and rubbing shoulders with some of Nigeria’s finest rappers.
Femi Falodun, ID Africa CEO who has seen Dare consistently deliver quality designs to clients’ satisfaction, says of his ingenuity, “Dare has that rare mix of skills that you don’t find in too many art directors in Nigeria: graphic design, video editing, cinematography, creative storytelling and my favorite — song writing!
“Sometimes, I wonder who’s more gifted: Dare Okesanjo or Cykic?” Femi adds.
Dare’s colleague and buddy at ID Africa, Prince Ehima describes him as “smart, creative, full of talent and always very supportive.”
He adds, “He is that friend that will always force out the best you have inside of you. Shine on bro.”
Sharon Grey, another ID Africa star who has witnessed Dare’s transformation through the years, says “Dare and I started as colleagues, but we became very good friends very fast, not because of our personalities, but because our drive and creative ethos aligns.”
She goes on to add, “I respect Dare tremendously, he is the one to look to when anyone is talking about using Creative Design to communicate brand key messages. Just like Paula Scher, he doesn’t care about the rules, creativity is instinctive for him — he just does it. Can’t wait to see him living his dreams, he deserves everything he is gonna get because unlike the conventional ‘creatives’, Dare’s work ethic is unbeatable.”
Though he is still riding his horse to glory, Dare has without a doubt added himself to the statistics of young Nigerians who are defying the odds to illuminate their otherwise grim worlds. And the sky is his starting point.
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