Nigerian Illustrator Behind Acclaimed documentary-animation ‘Liyana’

 Liyana – is an  animated and documentary drama   built around the imagination of five young orphans in Swaziland it is an amazing piece of work that pushes the boundaries of art in Africa.   Thandie Newton was
Executive Producer  and it was directed by Directed by Aaron Kopp & Amanda Kopp, the Animation Artwork was done by a Nigerian Illustrator known as Shofela Coker ( you can follow him on Instagram with this username @shofcoker and lastly Original Score by Philip Miller.


Five Swazi orphaned children turn past trauma into creative fuel for an original collective fairy tale, in which they send a young girl on a dangerous quest.

When asked who  is cooker? On a interview session coker said that;

“I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the U.S. to study at the Memphis College of Art in 2005.”  he has worked for Sony  as a character designery, Activision; he was also the art director of the documentary/animation film  Liyana.”he currently works  as an art lead at the mobile game studio, Jam City in San Diego. At heart,

talking about his drive, cooker added his love for animation always drives him to cinematic storytelling, especially in new media. He  said Whenever he has free time, he tinkers with his sketchbooks, and  tries to develop them into finished works, whether its comics or animation.

when asked how he DISCOVERED animation. cooker said; 

In primary school, I scrawled on a career card that I wanted to become an “animist” when I grew up. Luckily, I learned to spell properly, and along the way, I also developed a passion for building things and thought I might be an architect. With my brother, I married those two loves of creating worlds — fostering a passion for comics, animation, and video games.

We’d copy art from comics and our favorite shows like Voltron and Knights of the Magical Light, and create our own designs for games and grand adventure stories based on Yoruba mythology. My parents are both artists so they were quite supportive and encouraged me to do whatever I loved as long as I put effort into it.

He said what typically inspires him are  “illustrators and painters such as Mike Mignola, Juanjo Guarnido, Andrew Hem, Joao Ruas, and Miyazaki. are inspiration.” “Designs and sculptures from the Benin empire have always inspired me, too.”

when asked how he got to be part of this project cooker said ;

“Liyana had already been in development for a few years and the directors, Aaron and Amanda Kopp were searching for a production studio to develop the animated sections of the film. Amanda found my work online and read a few interviews I had done that lead her to believe our creative principles and aesthetic sensibilities were aligned.”

“They reached out, flew over to San Diego where I lived, and spent the weekend discussing the project, and showed me a rough cut of the film. I was so excited that I created a rough sculpt of Liyana before they flew back to Denver. A few months later I quit my job at Sony and the rest is history.”

he is currently  developing an older short comic into a full graphic novel. ‘Outcasts of Jupiter’ 


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