#360Hero: Meet Ikoghode Sumaina, The Self-Taught Artist With Wild Imagination & Daring Will For Adventure

share on:

Stretched from the tip of a three-legged stool in a semi-tidy room, towards an empty canvas, the civil engineering graduate is set to create yet another masterpiece.


25-year-old Ikoghode Sumaina Isaac, is an artist and owner of art outfit, SMKY arts which according to him was coined from his nickname, Sumaisky.

The University of Benin graduate who’s from the South-South state of Edo tells BANKY about his creative art career and some of the challenges he face.


Read the excerpt from the interview below:


How Did This All Start Out For You?

It all started when a neighbour who goes by the name Solomon Asowata, handed me a drawing book and pencil and asked me to recreate a drawing he had done himself.

I did, he was impressed by my output and I was happy that he was, so I kept going back to him to copy his drawings. Soon he gave me his whole drawing book.

It was 1996 and I was in Primary three, that was when I started my art adventure and I haven’t stopped since then.


You Refer To Yourself As A “Self Taught” Artist, Why?

Besides primary and junior secondary school fine art classes, I had no other formal education in art.

In truth my technique for most of my art today was developed absent a tutor’s guidance. Repetition coupled with wild imagination and a daring will for adventure leads me to the successive stages of my art skill acquisition.

I have tried a lot of genre in art. Carving, sculpting, pencil art, painting, digital art, comics even cake design and so on.

All born from curiosity and my love for creating things. In recent times, I have come to paint more and do comic strips as well as digital designs, still teaching myself with whatever means I can to be the hero I was born to be.


amaka's folks.. (1)



amaka's folks.. (2)


You Studied Civil Engineering At The University, Any Plan To Go Through With It?

Even though I had dreamt of studying architecture but found myself a civil engineer due to the unstable nature of gaining admission into the Nigerian university, I believe that like art, there are many different creative paths to achieving the final piece.

Being an engineer itself is but a means to becoming an art god, (in my opinion of course).

Art is engineering and engineering is art, because both involve using designed tools to bring together different materials to form one spectacular creation. I intend to practice engineering and be exceptional as I am an engineering artist, as well as an artistic engineer.




Bar babe by SMKY arts
Bar-babe by SMKY arts
2015-06-22 12.51.05
Face Painting by SMKY Arts


When You Introduce Yourself As An Artist, How Do People React?


Ha ha, it is funny because when I introduce myself as an artist, people react exactly the way you just did.

They ask me what then I intend to do with my Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) degree. But I sense that they ask it in fascination and with some sense of pride in me.

This makes me feel good as well as feel challenged. I have a task to show them that we can be whatever we imagine if only we dare to believe. We can all be heroes.



ugie by smkyarts (1)
Work In Progress: UGIE by SMKY arts



ugie by smkyarts (2)
Completed, UGIE by SMKY arts


Your Family, Do They Approve Of This Career Choice?

My family has been noting but supportive.

My mum, Mrs M.B Ikoghode is a caterer, she empowered me by letting me revolutionise her cake designs.

My elder sister, Mrs Adiza Idemudia once paid me to do a face paint party for her son.

My dad, Mr. M.A Ikoghode also gave me a contract once to do wall paint designs for his house. My dad no longer calls me by my name but SMKY.

My family knows that I am an engineer, but they also recognise that I have been blessed with a great gift. That is why they do all they can to support and guide me, because in the words of Ben Parker; “with great power comes great responsibility”.

cake by smkyarts (1)
Cake by SMKY arts



cake by smkyarts (2)
Cake by SMKY arts


Is It Lucrative?

SMKY arts was able to support me financially while in the university by sales of paintings, making customised t-shirts, doing wall paint designs as well as designing birthday cakes.

So far I have done all this in the form of what one might term “hustle” but I must say hustle has been good.

I am currently working on registering my hustle with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). So, in no time, I won’t just be another vigilante but a formally recognised hero, no spandex though!


omo no ba by smkyarts (1)
Uncompleted, Oba of Benin Kingdom by SMKY arts


omo no ba by smkyarts (2)
Oba of Benin Kingdom by SMKY arts


Your Most Expensive Piece, What’s The Market Value?


So far, the most expensive piece SMKY arts have sold was a 3x4fits portrait painting of a pastor and his wife in acrylic.

Even though the piece was ideally created to worth 200 thousand naira, the client offered 100 thousand naira, and as a student in my 4th year of study in the University of Benin, SMKY arts and I gladly accepted the offer.

I am however currently working on a collection titled “the dynasty”. It is to be made up of 10 paintings all depicting the culture and traditions of the Benin Kingdom.

t shirts by smkyarts (3)
Tees by SMKY arts





You Have Authored A Comic Book, “TRIWARRIOR”. Tell Us About It.

 In the year 2007 I got a temporary job with the “Vehicle Inspection Office, Ministry of transportation, Edo state” as an office assistant and at the same time I was a free-lance equatorial cartoonist for the Nigerian Observer Newspaper. I had little to do as an office assistant so I used most of my time drawing cartoons for the Newspaper.

As such, I started a comic story, just as practice and to while away time. I had this residual memory of a warrior drawn by Solomon Asowata, my founder. So using my siblings’ names and personalities I created three warriors and just made up the story as every day passed. The story went on, soon became interesting so I decided to make it into a 1st issue (#1).

equitorial cartoons for nigerian observer (7) (1)
Equatorial Cartoons For Nigerian Observer, An Edo-Based Newspaper

In 2008 I got admission into the University of Benin to study Civil Engineering and soon forgot about my comic book. For years it laid on the shelf covered in dust only to be brought back to light again in 2014 after my graduation. In January 2015, SMKY arts was proud to release “Triwarrior” issue 1 into the World Wide Web to be downloaded free so the world could share in my imagination. Link: http://payhip.com/b/3UZq

Triwarrior is but the beginning. I was still a very crude artist when I drew the issue 1 of triwarrior, but now with advancement in my education as well as art skills, expect issue 2 to be the bomb.

However, a new genre of SMKY arts is being born; it is called S.N.T (Stories Never Told) with its first comic also titled “Dynasty” which will be made public pretty soon.

360nobs will be the 1st on the release.

equitorial cartoons for nigerian observer (5)
Equatorial Cartoons For Nigerian Observer, An Edo-Based Newspaper.


What Are Some Of Your Challenges?

My greatest challenge at a time was the struggle with studies while in school and finding time for my art.

Art I love so much was almost a distraction to me. I almost lost it when I tried so much to concentrate on school work rather than my hobby. But somehow I found a way to balance the scale. It still poses a challenge especially when the question of how I intend to practice engineering and my art is asked. I however believe that the world is moving pretty fast and if I am brave and courageous enough to run just as fast, then I, SMKY arts will be unstoppable.


*** Follow this creative genuis on Instagram, SMKYARTS



Digital nerd


Leave a Response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.