Lose Yourself in Willyverse

Literally racking my brain over here, searching its nooks and crannies for a box to fit this man’s work in and I cannot seem to find one that comes in the appropriate size. Soon enough, though, the key question hits me, and I let out a slight chuckle. It comes from his moniker; ‘Willyverse’, a portmanteau of his first name, ‘William’ and the word ‘Universe’, ergo Willyverse is: William’s Universe.


The question: Is it really possible to fit an entire universe into a box?


An open ended inquiry, one might say, and if we’re nitpicking we could argue about this for hours, but it serves its purpose. I mean, this interview shows that at some point even he wasn’t exactly sure what Willyverse in itself was.


I discovered Willyverse during one of my first trips to the VSCO grid while searching for Nigerian users to follow. It was refreshing to see a Nigerian with an eye that created simple, yet fascinating compositions with mere observations of their surroundings.

willy Capture







Soon enough, it became apparent that these compositions weren’t only informed by an eye for great photos, our man is also influenced by other forms of visual art. He combines these with his photography to create some colorful, interesting pieces.


willy clip 8Capture


willy8 Capture

willy 34 Capture

Later on, I realized that i was merely scratching the surface of William’s universe. I mean, what i’ve shown you so far are only his observations! What about his REAL work?


Constantly surrounded by art, even from an early age, William Ukoh’s vast portfolio exhibits the traits of one with a heightened perception and appreciation of various forms of visual expression. Photography happens to be his primary mode of communication, and within photography, fashion is where his keen eyes look to have settled. He has experimented with various styles and techniques of photography and sees himself as a storyteller, regardless of the medium. The modes in which he tells these stories can either be abstract or as straightforward as possible.


“Over the years, I have taught myself, practiced, studied, stalked the greats, studied some more, and learned how to take somewhat decent photographs. I’m still learning.”


From his ‘Semester’ series:




From his ‘Study on Privacy and Identity’:




tumblr_nk2vht8pPr1qhvgnso1_1280 tumblr_nk2viq3ygo1qhvgnso1_1280

He has worked with a number of labels, and is most notably a  frequent collaborator with retro swimwear designer; Andrea Iyamah.




As you might notice, there are some parallels between the set of photos above and some of the colorful art on his VSCO grid.





“The goal has been/is/will always be to improve”


True to these words there always seems to be a sign, even in the slightest, of refinement, of enhancement to his work with each passing photograph or short film (yes! he also makes films and some of them are accompanying pieces to his photoshoots. Even though I barely understand any of them). It really is amazing to watch an artist come into his own.


William Ukoh is a visual artist currently based in Toronto, Canada. Witness Willyverse in its constant state of expansion on instagramVSCO gridtumblr, and Vimeo.



Sources: YAGAZIE + Duduview