#NIGERIAN URBAN STREET ARTIST SERIES: “ART IS A TRAP”- Olatunde Alara

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Olatunde Alara is an all round creative who is into visual art and writing. He shared his journey as an artist in the Lagos Art scene with us.

Hello, please introduce yourself?

My Name is Olatunde Alara, I’m 24, and I’m an experimental visual artist, based in Lagos, Nigeria. In the past I have worked with Collages and drawings, right now my main medium is spray paint.img_14231108604245

Can you recall when you first discovered you were interested in art?

There wasn’t exactly a “light bulb” moment, where I realized art was my “calling”. Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who were into art, like my brother. When I was younger, I would marvel at my brother’s drawings, and wonder how he was able to just create something out of thin air, so that definitely made an impression.

Is your creativity born out of passion (something you picked up and nurtured) or is it something you were born with?

I would say it’s a mixture of both. As far back as I can recollect I would just draw because that’s what my other friends were doing, even though I had no idea what I was doing. The nurture aspect, I would say came later on when I studied art in school, for about two years. That helped me understand the basics of art, like how to combine certain colors or how to draw things with varying perspectives.att_1423332620175_10

How would you describe your style of creativity?

My art style is steeped in spontaneity. I enjoy the idea of not having a concrete idea of what I want to create until it’s actually finished. I think this leaves room for new ideas and helps me really push my imagination. Also my style relies on he idea of being able to do anything that I want to do, without being restricted to someone else’s idea of what I ‘m expected to create.

What inspires your creativity?

Not wanting to be broke, depression, angst, the excitement of a new possibility of creating something I never really expected, wanting to build a house for my mum, and using art as a medium to channel emotions that otherwise not properly used could be detrimental to me and my mental health.img-20151031-wa0001

When you create, do you always have a specific message to communicate for each creation?

Not necessarily. For a long time I would consider the art I made as non contextual, I just created things that I wanted to regardless of what anyone would think. But I think now, my work is definitely starting to communicate a message, that of being care free, in a practice that I personally feel people involved, take themselves too serious. Another message I try and pass along with my work is that you can create something different from what’s being done by others without compromising the standard, something being different doesn’t have to be synonymous with a low standard.

What are the challenges you have faced/still face as a Nigerian Atrist?

Trying to get fellow artists to understand that there is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to collaborations. I feel like within the Lagos Art scene, most of the artists are only into the surface aspect of what it means to create art, which includes being more concerned with the spotlight and being famous. These are not necessarily inherently bad, but I feel like in an emerging scene like Lagos, our priorities as artists could be better channeled into something productive, like actually creating and doing something meaningful. The proliferation of mediocrity is another one, the standards for what is considered as “good” art are so low, which I feel goes on to affect the quality of the works being produced.

What’s your favourite thing about being an artist?

The fact that people take me serious, and I don’t mean this in a sort of tongue in cheek way, like I genuinely mean it. I never intended to pursue art as an actual career, I actually wanted to be a rapper, but I didn’t feel like I was good enough at it. But with art I can actually create worlds that I can get immersed in that might not necessarily make sense to other people initially, but people can ask me what I meant and felt while creating a piece of art. That for me is a pretty big deal!img_1827

What creative medium would you Love to explore but haven’t tried yet?

No idea.

Advice for upcoming creatives?

Quit. Art is a trap, no one ever tells you of the depressing nights and days you spend being broke, that isn’t a novelty either, its real! Okay so here’s what your time line looks like, you make the mistake of deciding to pursue art, you have a short lived career of being the “hit” thing, and you bask in a false sense of security and glory thinking you’ve “arrived”. This tears your relationship with people you care about into shreds as you begin taking out your frustrations on the ones you care about, someone new emerges in the scene, you become forgotten as you become a shell of your former self, you start “fending” for likes on Instagram as a way to validate your failed career as an artist, and you spend your time bitter at no one exactly for a promising but failed career. Apart from that, art is exciting! Have faith.

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What’s the most exciting piece of art you’ve seen, and what were your thoughts on it?                 Can’t Remember.

What song title best represents you as an artist?                    

Earl Sweatshirt- Grief

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What would you consider your ‘Muse’?

I don’t have one.

If you had to pick one artist to collaborate with, who would it be?Someone dope.

You can follow Tunde on Instagram @olatundealara 

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