Want to know the secret to mastering your craft and how a multi- award winning artist thinks? Meet international artist Victor Ehikhamenor, who took a few minutes to sit down with us in London to share why he believes young artists should never give up and why sometimes just because something’s in a picture frame its still not art.
When did you start to see yourself as an artist: I’ve never not seen myself as an artist, which is quite interesting. At the age of 4 I started drawing. I mean every kid could say “I started drawing” but i know that I started drawing at 4 and when I started primary school and didn’t listen to anything. It got to the point where my teacher had to report me to my parents thats I wasn’t listening.
When you drew what did you start with?: Just doodles. My tools were chalk and slate. In Africa, in the village they give you a piece of wood and its polished like black wood, the wood is darkened with charcoal, wet charcoal then it drys and your also given chalk. And you have to protect that chalk, that is your pen! You can’t throw it away. So i drew with them. You spend one year doing that!
What type of things did you used to draw?: Things from my imagination. But as I grew older I started looking around at things. It could be a chair or a woman sweeping, by the time I was 9 and an older student one of my brother’s friends called me an artist, which was the first time I had heard of the word “oh your an artist!”. It became my nickname from him “the artist”.
I’ve always wanted to be an artist from day one its just that the schools and high schools that I went to didn’t have art departments so I couldn’t really study it in university. I ended up going to read English and Literature which is how I began exploring writing and poetry.
Do you feel the way people perceive artists has changed over the years: In some places, but I don’t want to say it has changed completely. There is more awareness now, back in the day if you told your Dad you were going into fashion, the reaction would be “why not engineering!” this has changed. You realise that a certain generation are now becoming parents. Those that were asked not to become artists, know the angst of not being an artist or fashion designer, they are now having kids. They can’t turn around and tell their own kids not to do it.
What is your favourite colour? Red! I love red I’m just drawn to it.
How do you decide a theme for an exhibition: It depends on what’s inspiring me at the moment. I like to push myself and not repeat things. Its good to keep things fresh, but also to have a message. I like my art to say something, to have an impact.
Do you believe you can see art in everything or sometimes it’s just not art: Sometimes it’s just not art! I’ve been to exhibitions at times, and seen something and thought to myself come on…this is rubbish. When you see art it moves you, you feel something. But I’ve seen some things and thought to myself no, just…no.
Do you think social media has a positive effect on the art industry?: Definitely! Especially Instagram. I love being able to talk to my fans directly through instagram. When I have a moment I scroll through to see what people think, discover new artists. I find it very important to keep looking for new things, I’m always interested in new artists, it helps me stay inspired. Also I like encouraging new talent, you have to encourage new fresh talent, especially when you have a platform.
What advice would you give to young artists of today: Don’t give up but also, you have to eat. Take me for example I’ve never stopped drawing but my studies were in IT so I could support my art. Plan your life to support your art until your art is successful enough for you to live off it.
To inject some more creativity into your life follow Victor Ehikhamenor on Instagram here and catch his exhibition in London this November, more details about it will be posted here on the blog and on our social media soon.