Flo Awolaja: Don’t take your talent for granted

Flo Awolaja

What struggles have you faced as a visual artist and what ways are you able to pull

In an ideal world, we would all like to be recognised for the work that we create. However, the reality is that whilst there are many of us working hard as artists, sadly the recognition seems to be only for the few. So many of us are talented and dream of when we can give up the relentless grind and hustle of day to day existence, and finally truly enjoy the fruits of our labour.

But by the same token, the passion that drives us is also what saves us, we don’t give up, we continue to develop our craft, knowing that it is a long journey. There is something about being an artist, having that survival instinct, being resilient in the face of adversity, but it’s also quite special, knowing that you can conjure up magic from thin air.

Is there a defined educational path for this career?

It is difficult to define an educational path for this career, however, what is evident is that most if not all artists have had some form of Art education. Sometimes to be a creative is to feel like you are on a lifelong holiday, doing what you love….The career of an artist is not an easy one, it takes a great deal of determination, and it is not for the faint hearted, it certainly is not done for the money, although it does help eventually. It’s a career that requires you to have confidence and a supreme self-belief in your artistic ability. It is a craft that you practice, build, grow and develop in any way that you can.

But first and foremost, you must love your work, love what you do, be excited at the possibility of creating new things, be curious, inquisitive, search out new ideas and continually seek to be the best you can. Once an artist always an artist!

As long as I am creating and thinking of ideas then I am happy - @Maverikartz Click To Tweet

What recent achievements have rekindled your happiness as a visual artist?

I love this question, for those who know me, as long as I am creating and thinking of ideas then I am happy. I think having the knowledge that I have the skills to create beautiful things gives me an immense sense of satisfaction. Particularly when I have to think of gifts, sitting down to create a present for a friend, it really does not get better than that.

Knowing that I have the skills to create beautiful things is in itself enough. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to be paid for doing what I love. There really is no better feeling for me than when I am doodling in my ideas book or thinking of new pieces to create. Personally, if I could square that elusive balance between making a living full-time from being an artist instead of working the nine-five to pay bills like most creatives do, then life could not get better.

Like most creatives there are times when I am not physically making anything, however, in the background, the brain is busily nailing down concepts and ideas, that will at some point come to fruition. So when you catch a really good creative wave you just surf away, using that moment to capture all that you want to put into existence, banking ideas that flow effortlessly when the mood strikes. It’s these moments that make me happy.

Recently I had toyed with the idea of creating a set of drinks coasters from a series of designs that I was working on. Like most things, I just tend to get on, and then reveal the works when completed. However, just before Christmas I took purchase of my designs from the manufacturers, and was like a child in a sweet shop, excited that I had seen my visuals spring to life. Showing the finished works to close friends was a mistake, as they were quickly snapped up and sold out within 2 months, so I am busily working on a second batch, watch this space.

Always seek new ways to challenge, develop, and continually raise your game Click To Tweet

Asides being a visual artist, what else do you love to do?

When introducing myself, I will always state that I am a creative. For several reasons, because my interests in the field of creativity are many; from an early age, my interests within the arts has not been limited to what is traditionally classed as the visual aspects, i.e. drawing and painting, I always seek new ways to challenge, develop and continually raise my game. I enjoy writing, poetry, short stories; cooking. Spending several years as a freelance graphic designer has honed my skills to explore all aspects of creativity, and my latest foray sees me return to my love of photography.

So for me, design enters all aspects of me, from my sense of dress to interior design, there is no aspect of my life that will at some point have no use for beautiful design. Being a child of Nigerian parents, design plays an integral if not important part of my life and the creative process, it will always be the first thing on the table rather than the last. I am currently teaching Art and Photography which affords me the best of both.

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About Gracious Ernest

Gracious Ernest is a happy feminist and an LL.B student at the University of Lagos. She is ecofriendly, loves to travel and is passionate about her faith and storytelling. Since 2015, she has been an ardent delegate at various model united nations and works towards the achievement of goal one and five of the SDGs. In 2018, Gracious was selected as a Women Deliver Young Leader. She speaks good English and poor Spanish and still hopes to play professional basketball someday.

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