Miss. Oreoluwa Dickson Afolasade, 23, was just 10 years old when she started drawing doodles on her books by looking at the drawings of her father, who is an architect. The doodles, with time began to take firm shapes and today, she is resolute, that come hell or high water, its visual art for her or nothing else.
To keep to her passion and attain her dream, the artist had to battle objections of friends and family members.
The objection, which made her to waver ever slightly, was that of her mother.
The mother had repeatedly told her to go into catering, which the woman said was the appropriate skill acquisition for the girl-child. Afolasade’s mom warned her to stop dreaming of becoming a professional artist because it was an exclusive reserve profession for the male-gender.
However, when her mom realised how determined the girl was in pursuing her dream, the mom became supportive.
Afolasade is one of the few Nigerian youths who refused to be intimidated and discouraged by the negative comments from people around her and her passion led into becoming a budding visual artist.
She said: “At first, my parents tried to dissuade me from going into visual art. I remembered mom telling me that art was for male children. She told me that the girl-child shouldn’t get involved in things that were ephemeral.
She said that I was wasting my time and that I should go and acquire other skills like catering. I told her I was not interested in catering or any other thing for that matter except art! I tried to explain to her that art gives me joy and fulfilment.” According to her, bringing sketches and drawings to life with colourful paints and brushes were magical.
She reminisced: “I started drawing and painting when I was just 10 years old. I started with sketching. I would sketch pictures of animals and other things I could lay my hands on. From there, I got into secondary school and I continued drawing and painting.”
Perhaps, the most fascinating thing about her is that she learned how to sketch and paint on her own, although her father, who is an architect, influenced her journey into being a visual artist.
She stated: “I got into drawing and painting through my dad because he is an architect. I spent a lot of time with him while he was working during the early part of my childhood.
I picked one or two things from him. I was always with him whenever he was drawing or sketching blueprints
of his projects. But I decided that I wanted to be drawing people and other things instead of houses. I didn’t get any formal training on how to draw and paint. I didn’t learn from anyone aside from watching my dad whenever he was doing his thing. It was all a self-effort. When I finished my secondary school, I decided that I needed to hone my skills in drawing and painting.”
Afolasade has created many beautiful artworks and paintings, among which is the portrait of popular Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele-Bello. According to her: “Sketching can take me minutes or hours sometimes.
But painting takes a lot of time. Painting is a meticulous act and you cannot afford to make mistakes. You take your time and you cannot be too fast because there is little or no room for mistakes.
Averagely, painting can take me three days.” In developing her skills, Afolasade is exploring social media. Aside from getting a lot of clients from the samples of her works posted on social media, the platform has also turned out to be a huge avenue to learn from other professional artists.
She said: “I post my artworks on social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and I also learned from other experienced professional artists on social media, especially on YouTube. I stumbled on different videos on YouTube where different artists were doing 3D drawing and painting on walls.
I felt I could also do it and that was how I started doing wall painting. I also do 3D wall painting and the experience has been fantastic.
The artwork of Funke Akindele-Bello was my third painting. I decided to draw and paint her because I love her
art. I love the way she acts and she serves as inspiration to other young girls like me out there.”
But, the journey has not been all that easy for the young artist. According to her, there were times she felt like giving up and at times she doubted herself and her skills.
Afolasade said that whenever the thought of giving up creeps into her mind, she goes into a frenzy of drawings and paintings. How does she get inspiration to paint? She said: “I like to be alone in a quiet place; it allows me to think.
It helps me to explore my inner self. I like to listen to soul lifting music whenever I’m alone because it relaxes me and makes me calm. It also takes away my worries and helps me to be in a creative mood, which brings out my talent.
At this moment, the idea of an artwork may just drop in mind and immediately, I’ll just start sketching. For instance, when I created Funke Akindele- Bello’s artwork, I was just alone for about two weeks. I was listening to music and the inspiration to draw her portrait just came. I immediately picked up my tools and started sketching.”
She also noted: “During difficult times, especially when there are no patronages, my friends will try to persuade me to leave the profession, to find something else to do. Some of them, who are into internet frauds, have tried to convince me on different occasions to leave art and join them, but I rejected the offer.
I believe in God and I believe that whenever God says my time has come, I will surely get the necessary financial reward for my labour.”
Asked if she ever regretted going into art instead of catering, Afolasade replied: “I have no regret choosing art, although I
would have become a caterer or a chef if I was not into art.” Afolasade said her art has been financially rewarding, adding: “There’s future in this profession, but for me it’s about the satisfaction and fulfilment I derived from being an artist.
However, by the grace of God, I have been able to make moderate income from my drawings and paintings.
For instance, I make an average of between N15, 000 to N20, 000 from a client and I can have maybe one or two clients in a week, depending on the type of job I do for the client.”
She continued: “Sometimes, I make N50, 000. For now, my biggest sale from an artwork is N50, 000. So far, it has been encouraging. A lot of people have shown interest in my artworks.
Aside from the artwork of Funke Akindele-Bello, I have also made another artwork of a Nollywood actress, Toyin Abraham and her husband, which I presented to her.
The artwork was a pencil work of the Nollywood couple. I did that in 2017 or 2018. I presented the artwork to them at a cinema in Abeokuta. She was really happy and it was a reassurance that I was on the right path. She was surprised that a young lady like me could do such wonderful artwork.
She featured me in one of her movies and I was really happy because the gesture exposed me to the other sides of art, which I wasn’t aware of. My friends and family were also very happy for me and this has served as a major source of encouragement.” Speaking on future plans,
Afolasade said her plan presently was to go to an art school, to learn more about art from experts and experienced people. She stated: “I have put aside for now any plan to go to a higher institution.
I want to further develop my skills in art and I’m trying to get into an arts school in Lagos. The school, I know, will serve as a veritable ground for me to further broaden my horizon in art. I want to learn more and prepare myself well before getting an admission into the university.”
Expressing optimism that her artworks will one day be displayed, both in local and international galleries, Afolasade said: “For now, I don’t have galleries, where I display my artworks.
I rely on the social media and referrals I get from people who had previously patronised me. Also, I display my artwork, majorly in open places, like the front of my house. But this is risky because the rain is not a friend of paintings.”
Afolasade advised young Nigerians to shun “get rich quick syndrome,” and get engaged in legal activities, which will bring income for them, stressing that, “there is honour in hard work and there is reward for hard work.”