I recently had the opportunity of interviewing the amazing Kelvin Okafor. We spoke about how he started drawing, his work so far and his plan for the future.
Hope you enjoy the interview!
Hi Kelvin, how is it going? welcome to YHP, really appreciate you doing this interview with me today. So how's your day been going so far?
Very fine thanks. Thank you very much for having me.
Anyways, Before we jump straight into the interview, can you give some background information about yourself so the YHP readers can get to know you a bit better before we dig deeper?
I am a passionate 25 year old artist, who is heavily inspired by all things creative. Being extremely precise in drawing is what I'm most passionate about. I aspire to create art as vivid as eyes could see.
Great stuff, Where were you when i was sitting for my GCSE Graphics design exam (Laughter), Don't worry no cheating would have been involved?
Ha! Well I’ve always believed in helping others. It’s a shame in this case I wasn’t of help.
But seriously dude, how did you get into drawing, how it all start for you?
As a child, I’ve always been fascinated with things creative. Drawing has always been a burning desire of mine. I was the type of kid who wanted to be the best at everything, but once I find one thing I’m incredibly intrigued by, I would work till my last breath trying to learn, understand and develop it.
Why have you chosen to work in graphite pencil? Why not watercolor, colored pencil, oil or some other color medium?
I am a big fan of all things traditional and humble. From a very young age, I’ve always found the pencil to be such a humble instrument. It amazed me, that with only one shade of lead, you can create so many tones and textures, and almost create the illusion of colour.
What has been your most memorbale moment so far as an artist?
My most memorable moment as an artist so far would have to be the moment I graduated from university. I knew that creating art was all I wanted to do, but the transition from working in a conformed structured environment, to having the freedom to work on my own accord completely motivated me. I knew that I could now work indefatigably and solely focus on one thing. I had a vision of the standard of art I wanted to achieve. Getting there, I knew I would have to work extra hard and sacrifice many things.
How do you keep so much focus in drawing some of these people, you spend over 25 hours on some of your drawings, thats crazy! This must take so much hard work and practice, How many hours do you spend practising each day especially when you just started?
I’ve always believed patience to be a virtue. Practice makes progression and I understand that exercising patience would only better my chances of achieving this. When I draw, I’m not fully concerned with how long it takes to complete, but rather concerned the effort I put into it. When I first began to solely focus on art, Daily would I spend up to 7 hours drawing with short breaks in between. Now, due to the fact that I want to work on larger scales, I work up to 15 hours a day.
So you're actually a self-taught artist?
You’re right! Having studying art, calling myself a ‘’self taught artist’’ wouldn’t be fitted theoretically, but learning how to draw practically is a skill I possess from a very young age. I would draw from imagination and reproduce drawings from references. Over the years, the more I drew, the more understood my style and technique of creating. It’s learning process. There’s no limits or boundaries to how far our gifts and talents can take us.
What is your favourite drawing so far and why?
Hmmm.. That’s a tough one..(Laughter). I would have to say my ‘’I’m a fan’’ piece. The name of the piece was inspired by someone who is a big appreciator of my works. The drawing is of a fan I have at home. I’ve always been fascinated about the idea of drawing it. It was a challenge to produce but a joy to create.
Do you have a favourite brand of drawing paper?
Not particularly, but acid free type sketching paper I feel works well with graphite. In many of my drawings, that’s a paper type I’ve become accustomed to using.
About your favourite brand of drawing pencil?
That would have to be Faber-Castell pencils! I take one with me everywhere I go! (Laughter)
Do you do this full-time?
Yes I do! To be able to do something you‘re passionate about full time is a blessing. It’s a sacrifice! One where friendships and relationships has suffered. But true friendship and a genuine relationship is about trust and understanding. Fortunately, that is something I have been blessed with too.
What is the highest price that you've sold some or one of your drawings for?
That would be telling! (Laughter).
Where are you based? You seriously need to attend and draw live at the next YHP Connect, you should definitely draw me :0)
Ha! Sure thing dude! Lol. I’m currently residing in Tottenham, but no, I don’t support Tottenham..lol. Arsenal all the way!!!
Can you recommend any books, videos or other resources that will help new artists?
Understanding the history of art is imperative. That was the main reason I studied art at University. I would recommend new artists to read up on the past greats and visit art galleries and museums to get a real feel for their works. Before contemporary art, there was other eras of art. It’s good to know them so you would know what type of art originated before you and what your work may be categorised as.
Where do you get your inspirations? Are there any artists that have influenced you and why?
Greats like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo have heavily inspired, influenced and motivated me in so many ways. Not only by their works, but their ability to use their minds in such a way, it prompts emotion and innovation. They have not only mastered the arts but branched on to other fields like; Engineering, poetry, science, maths… the list goes on. That inspires me to push myself and utilise the capacities of the human mind.
As a human being, I believe we’ve all been blessed with special innate gifts. Being mediocre about them is like having the ability to fly but you would rather walk. I believe in the unbelievable and I am inspired with the idea of pushing yourself to a level beyond the norm.
How can people purchase any of your work or enquire about them?
They can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any enquires regarding my art.
Throughout your experience as an artist, what is the most important lesson that you have learnt? Why do you find it so important? And how do you apply it now in your art?
The most important lesson I have learnt is to remain humble, kind and appreciative. Always remember the reason why you started drawing and never let anyone change that. There may be criticism, hardship or even humiliation along the way, but understanding myself first and finding ways to better myself in my craft is my main objective. Knowing this helps me remain focused, consistent and persistent with my passion. And also strengthens me with efforts to become a better person daily.
Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to learn more about working in coloured pencil?
Just continue creating with your desired medium. Through that, understandings and techniques will be acquired and realised with practice.
What do you have planned, what should we be expecting from you soon?
My own gallery is my ultimate aspiration as an artist. Till then, I will continue creating and presenting my works at various galleries and exhibitions here and overseas. My very own website is in the process of completion, before then, you can keep up with me on Twitter (twitter.com/KOkaforart) and see my latest works on my facebook page.