Art is the name of the game. Doggedness is the skill of this game. An artist that has been tested by the the travails of marketing amazing art in emerging economies, and coming out triumphant with international clients, Oluwatobi David Amoo has many things to say.
Curious, I first ask Tobi Amoo to tell me where he is from and he says, “I am from Ibadan, Oyo State. But I was born in Agege, Lagos State. The way it affects my art is that people in rural areas like where I’m from don’t know the value of art and they don’t see it as a job. Many times, people say to me directly, “Who is gonna buy what u are doing?” You will face a lot of discouragement. If you are not determined and focused, living as an artist in that type of environment can be depressing, but i did not allow it to bring me down.”
I ask Tobi about his biggest artistic influences, Nigerian and foreign and he names Abiodun Olaku as his biggest influence. Tobi Amoo also identifies his favourite artistic medium as oils on canvas.
Tobi explains how he noticed and developed his artistic skill as follows: “I developed my art when I was in primary four. I just found myself drawing on all the back of my book and on the board. From there, most of my classmates would pay one naira for me to help them complete their drawing assignment. From there, I just found myself.”
Tobi David explains his favorite time of day to paint as follows, “My favorite times to paint are in the morning and in the evening.”
With regard to how art is important to society, Amoo expatiates, “Art is important because that’s the only finished product made in Nigeria to be exported to the world. Art has a universal language, no matter where you are from. You understand its words. By this, art contributes more than enough to the society. Art brings jobs to museums and galleries, and people pay a huge amount to see them. Also art tourism plays a significant role.”
On what motivatzes Tobi to paint, he waxes nostalgic, “Music motivates me. Whenever I’m painting and listening to music, I find my self doing more, and sometimes mood of painting just comes naturally.”
‘I’m so in love with art, because is a gift from God and it is not for everyone. My being among the lucky ones makes me cherish it and appreciate it so much. I am an artist and I am also a lover of art. It gives me confident boldness because I am full of creativity that transcends even to my fashion sense and lifestyle, and ultimately, my brand.”
Tobi defines success in art in the following manner, “Success as an artist is directly proportional to how many people you have impacted into their lives as an artist and how well are they doing in that particular field. With that, you are successful.”
I ask Tobi about his experiences practising art after school, and he replies, “To be sincere with you, how we were taught in school is totally different. In school, we were taught some techniques to follow. If u don’t follow it, you may find yourself faking it. But outside school, you have to face the challenge, pressure and the big market. You have to create your own unique style that will sell your art. Because in school, we paint the same thing, but in real life, everyone carries his cross. The art industry in Nigeria is like politics. As a young artist, it is very hard to make money from your art as a graduate. Art is not fast like that. You have to develop in time to convince those “babas” before u can be blessed”. I laugh at the mention of “Those babas”. Finally, I ask Oluwatobi Amoo to give tips to up and coming artists and he says:
“To my fellow incoming artists, I just want you to focus more, be determined and discover keep discovering new artistic techniques. Invest your time into painting. Even if your work is not yet appreciated, don’t worry. Your time is coming; just continue painting.”
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Edited by Ose Binitie