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Making a living from creative arts

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Making a living from creative arts

A young university graduate has chosen charcoal as an instrument to express himself in visual arts and eke a living, rather than parading the streets in search of non-existent white collar jobs. CALEB ONWE reports

 

Chidinma Omeke, a Fine and Applied Arts graduate of the University of Benin, has an inspiring story of talent and determination to succeed in a chosen career. Omeke appears to have been born into creative arts and has deliberately decided on pursuing his passion.

Unlike many young graduates of these days, he is not sitting down with arms folded and lamenting the bad economic situation in Nigeria. He is up on his feet painting, creating visual master pieces and surviving by it.

Inside Abuja caught up with him at a location in the Federal Capital Territory and engaged him in a conversation that compelled him to tell his story.

“My father is an artist. I actually started being an artist from childhood. Arts have become part of my life and I feel that if I am separated from arts, I am nothing. After school, I discovered that I have a gift, and my works speak for itself from the way it captures people and the society. My decision to build a career in arts was to ensure that the talent in me was not wasted by going to search for a job.

“I decided to create a platform for myself, where I can be saying something to the world. I also want to document people and circumstances of my life. I want them to create a history that future generation can look at and get a helpful perspectives on life from.

“I believe in Nigeria. I believe in what we have. I believe in things not going to waste. That is why all my arts are done with raw charcoal. I also make some from fire wood. I burn the firewood and make the charcoal.

“I believe love is a strong part of our human existentiality because without love, we will be animals. In my works, I try to portray unity. I show it in femminism and in children who are deprived of love,” the artist said.

Looking at his collection of arts, one cannot help but admire his unique talent, self confidence and sense of fulfilment in life.

Omeke said that, sticking to arts and creating a career from it was more than anything else to him. It was an expression of love and belief in nature.

He said that despite the fact that he found himself in an environment that has been plagued by mass unemployment and unconducive to young entrepreneurs, he has been able to weather the storm and is already carving a niche for himself.

Inside Abuja gathered that the least of his art work cost N150,000. He has not just escaped the scorching heat of the labour market, but will soon begin to reduce the pressures in the market, as he hopes to create an arts gallery that would create employment for other young artists

His clientele base cuts across board, as both the elite and the common people appreciate his arts concepts and patronize him

According to him, the least of his portraits goes for N40,000. However, he had encountered a woman who loved and appreciated his work to the extent that she got a big concession on a purchase.

“There was this woman that saw one of my works in Lokoja, Kogi State and insisted I should paint her son. Though she had no money to pay for the exact cost, she got the potait.

“Unfortunately, in this part of the world, people don’t appreciate the works of arts as they are being appreciated in other places, but still those that have the means and understand the value do”, he said.

 

Within the short time that he has been in the business of visual arts, he has become an inspiration to young graduates and also an advocate of fair play that would engender more enterprising Nigerians.

“There are lots of people who are talented in our society. The government and other stakeholders seem to be more interested in giving scholarship to students of Medicine, Law and other professions, but those who are in Pure and Applied Arts are been neglected,” he said.

Omeke believes that government and other stakeholders can stop the ongoing mass unemployment in Nigeria with its attendant economic implication, by extending its developmental plans and giving incentives to other fields of endeavours.

He argued that more talents can be incubated and maximised if there was encouragement for those who are sincere in their moves to create employment opportunity.

“I advocate that scholarships should also be extended to those in arts. China has become an economic reference point in the world, because they didn’t treat arts with levity as it is been done here.

“I have never done any work that has not been sold or appreciated and the least of my work goes for N150,000. Young entrepreneurs need to be encouraged, so that our economy can pick up like that of China and other big economies of the world,”he said

 

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