• An artist’s illustration of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry has gone viral on social media following their announcement they are stepping back from their royal duties in 2020.
  • The illustration portrays the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as Beyoncé and Jay-Z from their 2018 video for “Apesh*t.”
  • Obi Arisukwu, who created the illustration, said he was inspired to make it after Beyoncé and Jay-Z had accepted a Brit Award last year and gave a nod to Markle in their speech.
  • Arisukwu said he wants to create illustrations and comics that depict members of the Black community who inspire him.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced earlier this month they would be stepping back from their royal duties, Obi Arisukwu was inspired to create.

The Los Angeles based 33-year-old illustrator, who is a self-described “big geek” and loves cartoons, told Insider he likes to keep up with current news and trends and use them to develop art that he shares with his more than 300,000 Instagram followers.

In particular, Arisukwu said he particularly is inspired by the happenings within the Black community.

“A lot of different people who are Black inspire me,” Arisukwu said. “I like to create artwork, and not only just create artwork about them, but also put them in situations that I think are fun, cool, or funny, or have some kind of meaning to it.”

So, he did. On January 17, Arisukwu posted an illustration of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that was inspired by Beyoncé and Jay-Z's 2018 music video for their song "Apesh*t." The music video for the song, which is found on their collaborative album "Everything Is Love," shows the duo known as The Carters in The Lourve, standing on either side of the Mona Lisa, staring into the camera as it zooms out.

In the Meghan and Harry illustration, the royal couple wears the same purple dress and green suit as the American music superstars as they stare into the camera, though in Arisukwu's piece, the Mona Lisa is replaced by Harry's mom, the late Princess Diana.

Arisukwu said he was inspired to create the piece after noticing the negative coverage Markle received among the British press, one of the possible reasons Harry and Meghan decided to split from their royal duties and move to Canada.

"It just happened to be where it felt because she was black, she was receiving a lot more negative press than anyone else," he told Insider. "I felt compelled when she and Prince Harry decided to leave the UK and come to North America. I felt compelled to say 'OK, I stand in solidarity with them and with their decision and respect what they're doing to get out of that toxic environment.'"

So, Arisukwu created the piece that has garnered media attention, circulated on social media, shared by celebrities, and racked up just shy of 77,000 likes on his Instagram page. Arisukwu, who moved to LA from Houston, Texas about a year ago said that Beyoncé "runs" Houston and that he's always been a fan of Jay Z.

The Carters' support of Meghan and Harry, specifically in a video the couple recorded to accept a Brit Award for Best International Group in February 2019, gave Arisukwu the creative direction to create the piece, he told Insider.

"It felt it was a great mashup to put Prince Harry and Meghan in the same environment, the same outfit that Jay-Z and Beyoncé were in and to just show that comparison and the level of respect that they have for each other," he said.

As for the inclusion of Princess Diana, Arisukwu said it was an homage to the relationship between Harry and his late mother.

"Prince Harry loved his mother and is taking notice of what the media is doing to his wife the same that they had done with his mom," he said.

Despite a demand he said for him to release the illustration as a print, he only has plans to print 25 of them, though eventually, he said, he'd print them on sweatshirts and t-shirts.

"I've never been somebody who wanted to create art such as this one and try to sell it to promote it to make income," Arisukwu said. "I just like creating art to create art ."

Arisukwu said his comics and illustrations, which often feature people of color, are a reaction to his observed lack of representation in illustration.

"I really wanted to change the narrative," he said. "I wanted to show you can create more things more content that features people of color, that feature black protagonists. That's why a lot of my artwork is catered toward that. When I create that, I don't want it to be where everything's a black narrative, where all we talk about is political stuff - black vs white. I think that's been done; everyone does it. I just want to show that as people of color we have the same issues that everyone else has."

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