Wande Oseni is an artist and a painter. She has been into professional painting and arts since 2015 with her works across different concepts, ideas and messages. Wande tells Tosin Clegg about growing up, her influences, starting up her artistry, her life and much more
Growing up, education, childhood dreams and family
I grew up in a single parent household with dreams of becoming everything a child dreams of, from being a doctor to an archeologist and then to a newscaster. I am the first of two, I have a brother. Right from an early age my mum always emphasised the importance of education, and even though I was an autodidact, she never relented in giving me the best education and extra tutelage. Growing up with a single parent and in the type of environment in Lagos, (Oshodi) helped shape me into the strongly opinionated, blunt, outspoken woman that I am today. I learned early that there is really no saviour out there and that if I wanted anything, then I will always have to work for it. I never made myself to feel small or bad for wanting the best for myself. I am a go getter with a strong drive for success and no fear of putting in the extra work to actualise my goals.
Started drawing at a young age when creativity had no rules
My mum always brought home discarded A4 papers from work for me to do my drawings on, but only during holidays as school time was full time of academic concentration to her. I did this for the most part till I met an artist, Sunkanmi, in the Creative Arts department, University of Lagos. I was in 200 levels and it was through Sunkanmi I met a few other amazing artists who were unapologetic and passionate about their arts. It rekindled the artist in me and the passion to create more original concepts than just duplicating what I saw on comic books.
My first challenge was my total ignorance of the entire world of art
Initially, all I did was just to recreate ideas I saw in books and biology practical diagrams. As a kid, information was not so readily available, as Google wasn’t even around then to answer all questions. Meeting Sunkanmi and other artists opened up another world of possibilities and information to me. I started learning about mediums, canvas, papers, etc. I soaked up as many information as I could even though I didn’t get to use most of them till much later, after I was done with my undergraduate studies. The earlier challenge of restricting my creativity to holiday periods still prevailed till close to my final year.
I am inspired mostly by what I read, see, hear, myths, history and my environment
I am an avid reader with a vast taste in preferred genres of literature. It could be a word or the way a song was phrased or how a story was told and, the inspiration hits. I also like to think the way I fuse some modernism to my works, irrespective of the inspiration, makes them unique. For example, my Eyo Samurai series, I was inspired by the deep and rich history of the Eyo masquerade in Lagos State, My Idiacentric work and the One Per cent artwork. I find it more enjoyable to experiment with mediums from biro to pencil, paints to charcoal and even digital paintings depending on what I feel is right for the concept I want to work on. Lately, I love to relate my works digitally and on canvas while I stick to papers for my quick doodle and sketching.
The reception has been great
Though as an artist, I am bound to love my creations more than anyone, still it is a nice feeling when others react and relate positively to them, which happens fairly enough.
Thanks to the digital age and through specific and limited merchandising I can say they’ve gotten farther than I myself have gotten, and not just locally.
Commentary about your works
I feel really good. Makes me proud and glad someone else out there sees what I conceived in my thoughts and brought to reality, and finds a connection with them. I’ve learnt that people’s perspectives differ. So, even when I get a bad comment on an artwork, I take it in my stride and don’t let it weigh on me. I am the creator, I like it enough to share and sharing it is not an imposition on others to do the same. This doesn’t stop me from welcoming constructive criticism from fellow artists whose opinions I value and cherish.
Defining being a humanist
When I say I am a humanist, I mean I don’t let my religion, tribe or country define who I am as a person and how I relate with fellow humans. Too often, people categorise their relations with people based on religion or ethnicity, forgetting we are indeed all humans who were just born a bit different from others. There are deeper definitions of humanism, but this is the one I like to go with. I will rather be referred to, liked, loved, seen or criticised as a person generally, than under a religious or ethnical label. As a regular volunteer for charity events, I know enough to overlook the typical labels and just be nice to my fellow human as oppose to seeing a divide when there is really none except in our individual actions.
Becoming the Lagos State Deputy Divisional Youth Ambassador
The journey started officially in late October when I got information about a leadership initiative programme organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development. I was able to fill the form and went for screening after duly notifying my boss, Hon. Kasunmu, that I might be needing days off to attend the training which he granted.
I was selected for the programme and after the five days’ training, I was among the 10 chosen out of about 100 people from my division to make it to the final residential camping stage. It was an eye opener for me meeting and mixing with so many people of varying ages and backgrounds. I acquired more knowledge and confidence about leadership, team work, patriotism and volunteerism which had always been a passion of mine. Fifty of us made it to the camp with a few of us selected as team leads afterwards, as we’ll all be working together for the duration of our ambassadorship tenure.
I hope to create and exhibit more, hopefully sell more as well
I want my works to make people curious, to scratch and think beyond just the surface, to research and also find a way of enjoying the process and thoughts that goes into creating the piece right in front of them, with the knowledge that there is no limit to the human mind if we take away the box.
I don’t define myself as one thing or another, I am a mix and balance of opposites, I am an artist but also a lover of academics. Life to me is a state between living and death, whether as a journey or lesson which should be enjoyed with more love, light and optimism, irrespective of which possible afterlife we hope to end up in.
How I would advice people to enjoy art
Just look at the colors, look from different angles, and notice the perspectives. Art can be both loud and quiet, in different forms so you don’t have to force it, just listen and connect either slowly or fast, in the now or later and in your own way without imposed thoughts. In the next few years, I see myself better at my craft, more known for what I do and breaking more barriers and boundaries.