How unemployment forced me into arts - OAU graduate who drew viral picture of Okonjo Iweala with pen

How unemployment forced me into arts - OAU graduate who drew viral picture of Okonjo Iweala with pen

30-year-old Tijani Rahman is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)'s local government administration who unemployment has forced into the art business. In February 2021, his art piece of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala went viral.

Taiwo, who is a father of one, spoke broadly on his journey into arts and motivation behind the viral NOI artwork.

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Can we meet you?

My name is Tijani Rahman Taiwo, a graduate of OAU and visual artist. I am from Oluyole local government, Ibadan Oyo state. I studied local government administration.

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You studied local government administration, how did the journey as an artist begin?

It happens around 2017 after looking for jobs and could not find any. My parents, out of concern over my joblessness, gave me money to go for my masters at the University of Ibadan UI). I collected the money, but I felt something within me was not right.

I thought within me that my going for Masters is like running away from the monster of unemployment, so it is better to face it.

How unemployment forced me into arts - OAU graduate who drew viral picture of Okonjo Iweala with pen
Rahman Taiwo Tijani is an OAU graduate who drew the viral picture of WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Credit: Tijani Rahman
Source: Facebook

I was already at U.I, praying to God about my decision. After prayers, I went back home and returned the money to my parents. They were surprised, but I had to because going for masters would not solve this unemployment issue.

Then, I discovered that since I have the potentials for drawing, I should go and develop it. I have been drawing since age 5 and was the best in my primary school. I decided to go and learn it and downloaded some tutorials on YouTube. That was how my journey started as a pencil artist.

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Your pencil drawing of WTO DG Okonjo Iweala went viral; what inspired you?

Her (Okonjo's) love for traditional and local dressing inspired me. I have loved this woman, even before she became a minister in Nigeria.

So I was on a project this year which I titled "GELE." It is a head-tie that Yoruba women usually use to adorn their head making them look more beautiful. So I saw a beautiful work of art and how also gorgeous, classic and elegant such dressing can be.

An inspiration to draw NOI came to me even since January 2021 because what made me know NOI in life is her "gele" (traditional head-tie). She is confident, beautiful, very proud of her culture. Then, I started the drawing on February 8, even long before she officially took over the appointment.

How did you feel when the drawing went viral?

I felt so great, joyful and hopeful that God will definitely help me to start fully my own art, and photography studio --and finally quit the life of part-time teaching in private schools.

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Have people reached out to you to appreciate your work?

Yes, praises everywhere, all glory to God. Halleluyah.

You're currently unemployed. What is your foresight?

I am unemployed. Private school teaching salary is super low 10k for part-time. So if I can be helped to go global with my skills where art is fully appreciated, I will be so happy.

I wish to have a big studio and devices for my arts, and photography studio too so I can be fully self-employed. I have even registered my art company since 2019 with the government.

Life as an artist in Nigeria is really hard. It is only God's connection and possession of adequate equipment that matter. May God help me.

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Rahaman Abiola is a result-oriented journalist and content writer with a firm grip of over 5-year corporate experience stranding diverse roles in digital & traditional media and social media communication.

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A published literary writer, freelancer and public commentator, he has written over 100 essays covering diverse issues on economy, politics and current affairs, entertainment and leadership published in virtually all notable Nigerian national dailies and digital media in Nigeria.

He is a graduate of English Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Follow him on Twitter via @ShugabanR.

Source: Legit Newspaper

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