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My Creative Hero: Yinka Illori


The Gate creative Hannah Bituin on 'Happy Street', sensing his culture in his work and advocating for better representation

My Creative Hero: Yinka Illori

Hannah Bituin and Becky Reynolds have just joined The Gate as Creative Team. They are ex-Ogilvy, Iris, and Virtue, they have worked on the Dove Self Esteem Project, tackled food waste with Hellmann’s and promoted sustainable fashion with Comfort. They worked for a variety of brands such as Unilever, Starbucks, Samsung, Diageo and many more.

As a team, they love creating work that are firsts like Dove’s first-ever political work celebrating the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as Dove Deodorant’s first illustration campaign. In-between briefs they are pushing industry boundaries like the Big Taboo that ensures there is a real and fair representation of plus-size women in the industry as well as shining a light on the 200% increase of Asian Hate with a proactive social campaign. In her spare time, Hannah makes fashion inspiration TikToks and is an active member within the East and South-East Asian community, while Becky is a YouTube influencer, creating content from fashion and beauty.

LBB> Who would you say is your creative hero? 

Hannah> I would say Yinka Illori.

LBB> How long has he been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting him or coming across his work?

Hannah> I came across Yinka’s artwork ’Happy Street’ in 2019 when walking past a very dreary underpass near Vauxhall. His art made me stop in my tracks, it was a beautiful and vivid contrast against the dark and cold part of London. 

LBB> If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know him and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know him, how did you go about finding to learn more about him and his work?

Hannah> As soon as I saw the Happy Street work, I followed Yinka on Instagram, he’s been kind enough to follow me back! It’s been great seeing his work throughout the years like the Lego Laundrette of Dreams, Brit Awards and many more dotted all over London.

LBB> Why is he such an inspiration to you? 

Hannah> Yinka’s work spoke to me, it’s not only optimistic, bright and colourful but it features his Nigerian and British heritage. You can sense his culture by just looking at his work and that’s very special. I grew up in the UK but came from the Philippines and seeing the duality within his work where he merges the two cultures has inspired me to embrace my own. 

LBB> How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work? 

Hannah> Growing up as a minority trying to fit in at school, I regretfully rejected my South-Asian heritage. So now, as a creative in London I do a lot of proactive work for the East and South-East Asian community. Advocating for Stop Asian Hate and ensuring we have better ESEA representation within Advertising and beyond. Yinka’s work is a true testament that you can create work for clients and brands but still speak to different communities especially those from minority backgrounds. 

LBB> What piece or pieces of his work do you keep coming back to and why?

Hannah> Happy Street – it was a beautiful introduction to his work, but it also shows that art lives everywhere. As advertisers and creatives, we can be restricted with media deliverables, but great ideas can live outside of TVC and print. The more we try to push our executions, the further our ideas can travel to and reach more people.

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The Gate London, Fri, 05 May 2023 14:38:20 GMT