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All Past Featured Artists

Featured Artist of the Month

Njeri

When it comes to art that conveys the look, feel, and mood of the canon Lion King movies as faithfully as possible, you can't do a lot better than this month's honoree, Njeri. With a nearly exclusive focus on characters and situations from the official material, she's honed her skills with these characters to a razor edge. Yet, remarkably, it wasn't even until a year ago that she really began to work in the show's style at all.
"So I finish a day of work for my studies and exhausted, I curl up with my laptop on my couch. And then I find this. I mean, what?! No way! I seriously could not believe what was before my eyes, I was sure it was my mind playing tricks on me. The email from Brian.

I can't actually believe anyone would vote for me or consider my art anywhere near ready for such a title - thank you so much you guys! <3

I don't know where to start, so I'll begin with how I discovered the Lion King movies. Growing up, I loved the movies. I knew the words to every song, and that stuck with me, even as I forgot the movies that had made up my childhood. Then one day, a nostalgic YouTube search of Hakuna Matata eventually lead me here. I was amazed at the work people were creating. Amazing, beautiful pieces. They inspired me, and my love for The Lion King was rekindled overnight.

I want to thank all of you, my fans, my friends and artistic inspirations! I could have never gotten here without your support! Thank you so much Gray (The Spotted Warrior), Clear Green Water, Marigold, Simbaddict, *Ari*, AUBZ, Oncoming Storm and Richie (to name a few)! Thank you everyone who has me in your artist list, thank you everyone who has put up with me over the past year, and will inevitably be putting up with me in the future.

And finally, here's some encouragement from me. Don't ever give up on your work, don't give up on art! Hone your skills, try new things, don't be discouraged by disappointments! Each and every one of you are awesome! There's nothing more rewarding than watching yourself improve over time. That's why I draw; for the love of drawing, watching as pieces come to life before my eyes...it's amazing. I also encourage you to draw as much canon as you dare. Maybe it was the characters, or the music or the brilliant artwork and animation, but the Lion King is what brought us all here!

So thank you everyone who voted for me, I can't thank you guys enough. Thank you Brian for creating and maintaining such a great site! I wish I had some awesome quote to finish with, but I don't...so thank you! Thank you so much you guys! <3"
Prior to last March, Njeri had spent the few months of her tenure here at the Archive working in a naturalistic style that borrowed from photo reference to recreate a nature-show sort of look. It was definitely a unique approach to the show's world, and not one that many other artists have adopted. It's novel, to say the least, to see names like Taka and Zira, Simba and Mufasa, applied in dialogue to natural-style lions re-enacting iconic scenes from the movie. And perhaps some of those early works by Njeri deserve some of the most scrutiny, because their artistic angle gives us something we haven't seen much of.

And yet when Njeri began to experiment with a more film-accurate style, her work immediately began to rise drastically in ambition and visual power. With a newfound focus on recreating the colors, backdrops, physical structures, and human-relatable expressions of the movies, she quickly established herself with only a few dozen fully colored and realized pictures as one of the most engaging creators of canon Lion King art we've got here on the Archive.

A look through her recent work shows an artist who has found a whole new arena in which to excel—art that sticks as closely as ever to canon situations and characters, but now emulates their canon appearances remarkably faithfully too. She has even staked out a specialty in some of the particularly dark and weighty scenes that demand careful color work, whether it be the calm but foreboding blues and grays of the introspective and mournful scenes or the angry subdued reds and browns of a nighttime fire. Njeri has shown herself to be a master at choosing the right palette for the backdrop and making the necessary adjustments in the characters to match, resulting in scenes that are every bit as affecting as their counterparts in the movies.

Njeri still hasn't given up on the photorealistic side of her art, nor the experimental styles with which she still occasionally dabbles. We can see plenty of examples of these in her gallery, ranging from Lion King characters sporting naturalistic and detailed anatomy to intensely stylized character studies. It's this "semi-realistic" material in her work that probably remains the most interesting, and we can hope she continues to pursue that artistic path with as much zeal as she's showing in her canon-inspired work.

Here's to a long and auspicious future for Njeri, wherever her creative inspirations lead her!


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