Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards the arts?
I was born in Canada to Nigerian parents. I think a lot of my childhood experiences would be shared by other individuals who grew up under immigrant parents. There’s a lot of pressure to head into science and math, but I’ve always had the passion for creating arts and crafts. Even as young as ten years old, my friends and I would sell our crafts on the street outside our houses. My older siblings were very artistic as well, so I had them to look up to. TV shows like Sailor Moon also greatly inspired my interest in fashion, art, comics and animation.

 

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Your first memory or interpretation of visual art
I remember painting trees a lot in kindergarten. I also remember one of my teachers making us flower crowns on a class picnic, which I thought were beautiful.

 

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Were your family and friends always supportive of your work?
Absolutely, and I’m very grateful for it. Whether it was complimenting the work, framing it and hanging it on the living room walls or buying art supplies for my birthdays, I’ve always received a lot of encouragement from my family and friends.

 

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How many man hours do your pieces average and which piece took the longest to date?
A couple years ago, I would have said “five hours”. But in the last year or so I’ve been a lot more patient. Sometimes I’ll spend a few hours on a drawing and return to it a week or two later. I would now say ten hours. But as I experiment with new mediums and challenge myself with larger canvasses (I usually work on 8×10 which is relatively small), it’s starting to take me a lot more time. Most of my 16×20 pieces remain unfinished even after a year.

 

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How long are your working intervals before you need a break?
When I’m really inspired and focused on my art, I can go most of the day without eating.

 

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How do you determine what will be your next piece or any practices, rituals or a process that inspires the direction of future work?
There are usually two ways I begin a piece. Either I see a photo that really inspires me and I want to reference it for my own piece, or I feel like drawing and I search for an image. I’m usually happier when it’s something I’ve just stumbled upon or an idea pops into my head, than when I have to search for it.

 

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What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or friends when pursuing a passion?
Keep trying. Most likely, your family and friends are protective of you and don’t want to see you fail so they’ll always suggest the safe option. But be brave and prove that it’s something you can do. Once they start seeing your small successes, they’ll support you for the bigger challenges.

 

If you could could spend the weekend with any artist (past or present) who would it be and why?
Frida Kahlo. She seemed to be a lively, passionate person that energized everyone around her. I also love her paintings and think it would have been exciting to witness the making of one.

 

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If you could only rework one of your pieces for the rest of your life or chose a subject you have yet to attempt but rework for the rest of your life, what piece or subject would it be?
Ah! I guess I would choose a self-portrait. I’ve tried it twice in the last couple years and I don’t think I’m very good at drawing myself. So I would try that again and again, especially since I’m aging and my face/personality are changing so it would be a new person every time.

 

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Most humorous or strangest reaction/story regarding your work
One of my failed self portraits actually looks like my friend (but with my nose). We don’t even look alike, so that should tell you how accurate the portrait was…lol!

 

Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…
I stay cozy in my bed with my sketchbook, surrounded by some of my framed artwork on my walls. I like to work in natural lighting until I have no choice but to turn on the lights. I don’t usually listen to music, but if I do, I name the portrait after one of the songs (ex. “Valerie” is named after the Amy Winehouse song). If the drawing is larger, like 16×20, then I work at my dining table which is more of a studio (surrounded by my unfinished projects, paints, brushes and other supplies) than it is a place to eat.

 

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Current music playlist
A lot of Rilo Kiley. I need some music suggestions because I haven’t updated my iTunes in a year.

 

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What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned?
My mom’s favorite quote, which she likes to share with me: “Nobody has to lose for you to win”. I’d rather be collaborative than competitive.

 

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Future projects

I want to keep working on creating pieces that inspire people. I hope to someday soon host an art gallery featuring my works, but until then I’m content sharing the illustrations online :)

 

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