Gus Nwanya-Aliyu, aka The Boy Geniuz, is a multi-disciplined artist with over 12 years experience in the creative field.
Nwanya-Aliyu studied Graphic Media Design at London College of Communication and has completed a wide range of projects since graduating in 2002. He currently has 31,900 followers on Instagram.
Artefact spoke to the artist about his photography showing London’s underground stations in the rare moments when they are empty.
Where did the name ‘The Boy Geniuz’ come from?
When I was a junior designer, I worked in the computer games industry, doing packaging and magazine advertisement material. I got the opportunity to pitch and concept the look and feel of a new game cover. My concept and idea was chosen and the game became a controversial success. The image I created went on to win a few awards. It became the second most recognised image in the gaming industry that year, only behind Grand Theft Auto. I got plenty of accolades and exposure for it and was asked to concept more from then on. Shortly after, my creative manager came over to my desk with a badge and pinned it on me. It read “The Boy Genius”, and I was know as that from then on.
What feeling do you get from capturing empty stations or locations in your images?
I normally have music playing through my headphones whilst I’m shooting. I tend to go through an array of emotions before and during a shot. The excitement comes after the shot is taken and I look back on it and it’s exactly what I wanted. Then it’s all about the anticipation of the edit and what emotion I want to evoke back through the final edit.
Where’s your favourite place in London to shoot?
I like to walk around the finance district on a Sunday. It can be eerily quiet and empty, except for a few wanderers. If you’re lucky the sun is out, which can lead to some amazing captures of light and shadow.
How do you manage to get shots of the stations when they’re empty?
Finding a station empty is definitely not easy. Sometimes the stations I visit are constantly busy, but if you are patient enough you get a little window of opportunity where it appears empty and you can grab a quick shot before someone enters the frame. You almost have to be on your guard all the time. I’ve been known to get to a station as it opens, or just before it closes. But believe it or not, the majority of my shots happen throughout normal working hours.
When taking pictures, how does London compare to other cities?
I haven’t had the luxury of shooting in other cities just yet. I hope that will change soon. But if someone drops me a plane ticket, I won’t say no. That said, I do believe London is the most diverse city in Europe, where you are likely to find the biggest cultural mix of people. It has a deep architectural history, and one of the most creative mixes of old streets and buildings side by side with some amazing architectural feats.Photography by The Boy Geniuz