It only took one man, Aniekan Udofia (@aniekanreloaded), to paint this larger-than-life mural of music legend and activist Marvin Gaye, but an entire community came together to make it a lasting image in Washington, DCâ€™s cityscape. The wall Aniekan originally painted his commissioned mural on was torn down, so the people of the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest DC raised money to start fresh.
â€œI actually like the second one because there was no control in terms of the creativity, the timeline or the style,â€ says Aniekan, a DC illustrator who paints murals all over his city â€” no easy feat for a man terrified of heights. â€œThe funny thing is, once Iâ€™m up there for a few minutes, Iâ€™ll get the swing of it â€” as long as Iâ€™m not looking down.â€
Aniekan spent 16 years living in his parentsâ€™ native country of Nigeria before moving to the US to study fine art, but didnâ€™t hold a can of spray paint until years after he graduated. â€œItâ€™s like someone giving you a can of Cheez Wiz to create art,â€ he jokes. He still holds a special place in his heart for the trusty pencil, using the image as a sort of signature: â€œThe pencil represents persistence. You can use the pencil to the last drop of lead.â€