Onyinye Ubah

I cannot remember the exact time but the first time I remember myself as an artist is when I was still a kid in nursery school. I used to gather my fellow classmates and impress them with my drawings – though not as good as it is today. It was usually things like masquerades.

I continued that through my primary and secondary school. I did some couple of portraits, but they were not as good as it is today. Interestingly, I did not draw throughout my university days. But then, I started drawing again in 2015, when I was waiting to be deployed for NYSC – that was when I commercialized my art for the first time.  It was during that period that I defined the genre I wanted to venture into – that is hyperrealism.

Despite my passion for arts, my parents never supported me as an artist. I wasn’t discouraged because I knew there was something for me in art. In my early days in this journey, it was a bit uncomfortable because I feel like no amount can pay for the drawing. I feel happy when the customer expresses their joy. But at the same time, I am also happy that the money I get from the art also helped me during my NYSC especially when I was really broke.

Around 2015 was when I defined my genre and was also motivated by other artists I saw online especially on Instagram. The level of seriousness I put into my work got me some recognition in 2020 when I won an award as the best artist and the first runner up award for students in Germany. The competition was a talent show organised for Nigerian Students in Germany (NiSiG). It involved judges and votes from both members and the public. I won an award as the best artist in the show and came second in the overall show. We were supposed to meet the Nigerian Ambassador here in Berlin for the award but Covid came and we did everything via zoom.

Looking back over the years, I cannot really tell when or what event but I know I have always seen myself as an artist even when I was studying chemistry at the University of Benin where I graduated with a first class. Yet, people continued to ask about my Chemistry degree certificate and if I had gotten a job after school even when I showed them my drawings. Someone once told me to leave arts and look for something meaningful to do. Funnily, that same person that told me to find something meaningful once begged me to draw him – I looked at him and smiled. For the record, I did not draw him.

Surprise, surprise, I did not quit my science profession because I was also very good at that field and also to distract my parents from disturbing me. So, I managed to handle both till today because I believe so much in art and the passion is too much to quit especially now that money has started coming from that side especially after I relocated to Germany.

One of the things I noticed about since moving to Germany is that people here love art very well. I cannot remember anybody I told about my art here that did not appreciate it. Most of them even try to have some business deal with me. At the same time, more people in Nigeria are beginning to like it too, but I do not know whether it is because I am abroad now. After all, they never cared about it when I was in Nigeria.

As an artist, I hope to have my works in museum and also have a place to exhibit my drawings. I hope to organise art talent shows to groom young artists in Nigeria and encourage them also. Drawing is not easy and any opportunity to showcase it should be encouraged. It takes a lot of time – though I don’t mind. I have to spend hours on a particular part of a drawing before I could get the effect I want. It is also time-consuming. But it is more of having a daily plan of the things I want to spend my time on. I always tell myself that God gave me this talent, I should utilize them as much I can. Just the other day, I just told myself that the time I spend drawing is too small compared to the time some people spend switching from one social media app to another.

In conclusion, it has been quite interesting, and I am glad I chose that. I am improving myself daily. I love to see the drawing become so real – that is my motivation. I am also planning to go for training this year here in Germany that will make my skills more interesting. I will say that it has been challenging and exciting at the same time

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