Passion, especially for art, breeds creativity. That is what sets Ikechukwu Ezeigwe apart in his career as an anthropomorphic artist. In this interview with RAHEEMAH AROGUNDADE, the artist expounds on his motivation for art and his career
Everyone is familiar with the conventional artist, but an anthropomorphic artist. So, who is an anthropomorphic artist?
Anthropomorphic art simply means works of art that portray or use human characteristics and attributes for animals or inanimate objects. Typically, I use them to make socio-political and economic statements, among other themes.
So, what exactly does your job entail?
Being an artist entails conducting a lot of researches. Towards that end, I read a lot. This is because my research feeds me with the right idea and concept required for my work. Also, being an artist involves a lot of critical thinking, to be able to idealise and create a concept. An artist could get ideas for a particular concept at any time. Sometimes, the best ideas drop when playing with friends or listening to music.
When did you decide to make a career of it?
Immediately after my bachelor’s degree, I went straight into art studio practice. I was aware it was not a common decision because people often have to start their career with corporate jobs for years before deciding to venture into art or start their own businesses. But over the years, I built the mental capacity and attitude required to take that step. So, it was easy for me to make up my mind to venture into full-time art studio practice after graduating.
Let us talk about the business.
My job is simply creating works of art for enthusiasts such as art dealers, art galleries and art collectors. I enjoy the liberty of thought in the process of creating a work of art and the excitement of creating beautiful tangible objects from intangible elements of thought. I feel fulfilled knowing that I am using my work to contribute positively to the society.
How lucrative is the business?
I officially started in November 2017, and I would be honest enough to say that I have done well for myself financially. And it’s getting better every day.
What difficulties have you faced in your line of work?
Basically, the whole infrastructural imbalance in the country has a way of posing a challenge for entrepreneurs. But, more specifically, the difficulty in accessing some tools for work is a challenge for me. Sometimes, I have to source some tools overseas.
How much do you think people know about this form of art?
True, my form of art is not so common. But more people are getting acquainted with it day after day. Their first reaction when they see my works is that of surprise and fascination. And I am certain they love it. I am able to say this because of the feedback I get and the patronage I have enjoyed.
What has been your greatest moment as an artist?
My greatest moments will always be times I spend sharing my experience and knowledge with young people. It is priceless. I work in partnership with a young man and an inspiring leader, Mr. Jackson Iboro, a Future Award Leader Ambassador. Through this partnership, I have been able to reach out to some secondary school students in Lagos; teaching, guiding and encouraging them to make wise career choices. We have spoken to over 1,000 young people. It gives me a great sense of fulfilment.
How much patronage do you enjoy?
The level of patronage I have enjoyed is very encouraging. It has kept me, supported me and inspired me for three years now. I am just imagining what the next few years will look like, as I belive it will be exciting.
Mention some of the qualities that have helped you in this work?
The inspiring books I read as a teenager helped prepare my mind for life’s challenges. They built confidence and fearlessness in me; a consciousness of ability. I knew that whatever happens, I was prepared to face it and win. I was resolute to make a success out of my work due to what I learnt from books I read early while growing up.
What plan do you have for your business in few years to come?
I see myself making more complex and exciting works of art. I see more solo and group exhibitions with the best artists in the country and the world over. I see myself sharing my experience and knowledge with more young people and to a broader scope of entrepreneurs. Interestingly, I am writing a book for young people on personal growth and performance. So, I see tremendous progress.
Is the Nigerian business climate favourable to your business?
It’s getting better by the day. We are not where we should be yet, but certainly we are not where we used to be. More people and organisations are getting involved in the art. It may be slow, but we’re making progress.
What important lessons have you learnt in business?
I tell people, it’s great to be ingenious and talented. But courage is better than talent, while consistency is better than courage. So, I hold consistency in high regard; the commitment to constant improvement.
How would you advise young people interested in this line of work?
I advise that before you set out to pursue art as a career, embrace opportunities to perfect your craft and hone your skill; ensure you build faith and courage in yourself; get books that will build that confidence in you and read them. It’s a personal responsibility to develop yourself and prepare for the task ahead. It will make you outstanding, excellent and unshakable when the going gets tough.
What do you do to unwind?
I enjoy reading books. I like jazz, gospel and R&B music. I also enjoy watching movies, especially horror movies.