Tunde Owolabi is a product of the prestigious Yabatech School of Art and Design, and like the handful of vibrant minds that passed through those hallowed halls, Tunde Owolabi is an artist of many coats, a chameleon of sorts.
Analyzing his body of work, what becomes apparent is his painstaking commitment to culture and style. Tunde Owolabi, like a true creative, has also refused to be limited by the brush and the easel. Pursuing a Photography degree at the University of the Arts, London, and then creating some iconic brand development works for the biggest Ad Agency in Africa, then going on to start a photography collective based in Nigeria’s creative nerve center. Now, however, he makes sneakers.
Farabale caught up with this man of many colors, Tunde Owolabi at his studio in Lagos, Nigeria.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art?
My name is Tunde Owolabi. I am an artist/designer and photographer. I love everything beautiful, I love nature, colours forms etc. I love to disrupt the norm hence my interest in art. I do have a formal education in art, I studied graphic design from Yaba tech and a professional course in photography/retouching from University of the arts London.
What is your preferred medium and why?
I do not have a preferred medium. My mood and what I intend to achieve or communicate dictates my medium.
Do you have a favorite artist? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
I have some artists that inspire me but I am not sure I have a favorite. Having a favorite limits me in a way because then I will be biased towards others. I like different artists for different reasons; it could be their style, use of colours or maybe just their personality. My appreciation for different kinds of art has grown over the years, some artists I use to like then now seem ordinary to me. I guess I have grown too.
Can you remember one of the first things you painted/photographed etc.?
One of my most memorable drawing was that of a WWF wrestler named Tito Santana. I was in primary4 I think and I was a big wrestling fan. There was a classmate who could draw too and boy that dude was good. I wonder where he is now, if he still draws.
Have you ever designed any artwork for an author/Musician/singer?
Yes I have. When Asa started out, I was asked by Janet her manager then to design something for her first album cover. I have also designed for corporate organizations, both in Nigeria and in England, while working with
Research studios and Insight communications. I have also done some design works for a few clients of mine since starting out on my own. I haven’t done much album covers but I will definitely love to when the opportunity comes and I am given the creative freedom to express myself.
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
My immediate environment, people and nature.
Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of art? How did it turn out?
Yes I have. I recently dabbled into textile and shoe design. I design Aso Oke and get weavers to weave the patterns I design, which are then made into trendy sneakers for men and women.
Do you have any other interesting hobbies or maybe a fun story about an experience involving your artwork?
My work is fun all the time love to travel, so even when I travel I am photographing which somehow is work but I don’t see as work. I love to cook and food photography I love. Most of what I do revolves around my profession so it is easy for me to carry on.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?
The initial stage of starting. Once you can overcome that hurdle of getting up and doing rather than wishing, then you are on your way to creating a masterpiece. You don’t need anyone to tell you if your work is a masterpiece of not. If within you, you feel you have created a masterpiece then so be it.
You can see more of Tunde Owolabi’s creations from his websites – www.tundeowolabistudios.com and www.studiomo.com.ng. You can also find some of his works on Instagram @tundeowolabi_studios and or Facebook.com/Owolabi.tunde