It’s another Thursday and you know it’s time for our #WriterSpotlight feature! Before we tell you about today’s writer, we want to remind you about our special #WriterSpotlight Anniversary Edition. This evening, we will have an Instagram Live Chat with our Founder where she will give writing advice and solutions to common problems writers face. It starts at 7 pm so don’t miss it.
Back to today’s feature! It won’t be an exaggeration to call Abifola Abraham a creative genius. He expresses his creativity in poetry and pencil art. We love the fact that he is self-motivated and he is willing to work hard to be successful in his craft. Enjoy his interview with us.
Hello Fola. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?
Olorunlana Abifola Abraham is my name. I’m 18 years old. I hail from Ondo state Nigeria. I draw and write poems.
Drawing and writing poems. That’s an interesting combination. How did you develop a passion for these two things?
Let me say it has always been in me. All I did was let it out. The passion comes as a result of my hard work and encouragement from people who see my work and appreciate it.
In what ways are art and poetry related?
Well, I define art as a creative way of expressing one’s self. Poetry exhibits this, likewise drawing. So poetry is just a form of art.
Take us through your journey to getting to where you are today. How did you begin as a pencil artist and as a poet?
Well, that’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. It all started when I was little. I was a fan of old British movies, where they’d sing while acting, or sometimes recite rhythmic words while acting. I also loved comic cartoon characters and paint works made by art legends such as Van Gogh, Lionel Da Vinci, and Picasso. I always tried mimicking the actors and actress in those movies I watched. Then I continued until one day my friends saw me in that act and they encouraged me to keep up. As I tried keeping up with the act, I was making caricature comic drawings of my own. Then as I grew older my fascination for comic characters began to fade right from the moment I came across “tag drawing”(a form of drawing in which you use objects to represent or describe a person, society or situation). I kept on making imaginative tag drawings until I came across a pencil portrait work of an Africa girl on the internet. I was amazed. I decided to give it a try and I discovered I had what it takes. Ever since I’ve been making pencil drawings, and I’ve not for once regretted being a pencil artist. On the other hand, I began to write poems the day I was introduced to poetry writing in secondary school. I was 14 and I did literature in secondary school even though I was a science student. Ever since I’ve been a poet and a pencil artist.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is a thing that comes to you anywhere, anytime. Sometimes I am my own inspiration. Most of my poems are written based on things that have happened to me. So I just tell the story in form of a poem. Sometimes, I get my inspiration from the society; what’s going around me. I basically write my poems to express my thoughts in simple words, which of course will be easy for readers to relate with and get absorbed into.
Did you face any challenges in your journey and how were you able to overcome them?
Of course I did face some challenges. There was a time I had issues with getting people to read my poems. But thanks to the existence of social media I get to share my poems on Instagram to a wide audience who can read my poems. On the other hand, drawing was more challenging. My parents always believed being a pencil artist was a waste of time and wouldn’t bring reasonable returns. All I did was to raise capital on my own. I denied myself of some things so I could get art materials which are not cheap to purchase and have never been cheap to purchase. It took a while before I could acquire a lot of professional drawing tools. I now have reasonable number of drawing tools. I kept up with the work until my dad came home one day, saw one of my works and told me to keep the good work up. Today, I fund my own art.
What do you love most about what you do?
What I love most about what I do is that I get to express myself as well the fact that people appreciate my works when they see them.
Has combining art and poetry been profitable for you?
Yes, it has been profitable so far, especially drawing.
As a creative person, what are some of your frustrations with the way art is viewed in Nigeria?
First of all, most attention is focused on people who have spent decades doing art leaving the young and upcoming ones crawling their way up on their own. Secondly, art in Nigeria is not that well-appreciated. It’s sometimes considered as being cheap. People give you good credit for your works but don’t want to pay to have them.
Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?
Well, it happens in almost every occupation. All I think could be done is that one should try to stand out in whatever he or she does. The more the expression of creativity, the more the chances of appreciation.
What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?
The most important thing I’ve learnt from writing is that, whatever story it is you have in mind, learn to put it down and showcase it to an audience. You never can tell who’s going to learn from it and whose life it is going to change for good. I’ve written a poem which I didn’t consider to have a strong theme but I was surprised when a reader texted me saying he read my poem and his mind was eased. He, in fact, thanked me for it.
What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?
My advice to those who have something to share yet allow fear to hold them back is, no story is too short to tell, too long to narrate or too irrelevant to be listened to. Do not mind the number of your audience. Not every story is for everyone. Just express yourself to an audience and you’d see your story touching souls and changing lives.
If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to email@example.com.