NIGERIA: Fantastic portraits and photorealistic drawings by ISHAYA AYUBA aka BIGSHOW PENCIL ART

Today we introduce you to a fantastically talented and motivated young artist from Nigeria. ISHAYA AYUBA has a special fable for drawing and under the artist name of BIGSHOW PENCIL ART, he puts it into practice. With every artwork he just gets better, he develops further techniques and explores new instruments, but his main preference will probably always remain with the pencil.

ISHAYA creates wonderful portraits of people around him, he manages to capture the person and then put them on paper using simple instruments. It’s not just about copying the image, he also manages to express emotions and personality. And pencil art is just the beginning! He just wants to learn all the arts, to expand his knowledge and talents.

One of ISHAYA‘s dreams is to open a gallery one day where creative things happen and where people come together to talk about art and their ideas. A meeting place for people, but also for art. We spoke to the enthusiastic artist in an interview to find out more about his works and his ideas. Between the text passages, we show works by ISHAYA AYUBA aka BIGSHOW PENCIL ART that have been created in recent years.

Hello ISHAYA aka BIGSHOW PENCIL ART, thank you very much for this interview. So let us start at the point where you started. How did it begin that you went on drawing?

I started drawing when I was still in primary school, but I discovered that drawing is part of me which I was yet to discover and that brought a great joy in me. I like doing it because it is my talent. I mean it is something where I find joy in doing it. Art in quote is beyond its beauty because it gives the artist joy emotionally and physically, especially when working on a special picture.

There are may different ways how to do art. You went on the painting area, but especially on the drawing. You are very good with pencil and coal, also with small filigrane details. Therefore you also choosed the name “Bigshow PENCIL Art”. So why the pencil? What do you like about this tool?

I like the tools because I can explore the limits of my creativity. I can just draw everything with it. Another reason is that I just started with common pencils and I liked it. I am also from a poor background and family so then I can’t afford to buy the expensive art materials and I decided to go for this HB, 2B and H pencils because they are cheap and common. So I count it to be unfair if in my name I do not also put “pencil art” inside. Actually that is how the name came about. Sometimes you just have to take what is there and you have to work with what is available. And then you just go with that tool and discover what you can do with it.

Now let’s talk a bit more about the motifs which you paint. You could paint animals, mountains or abstract objects. But you choose to draw people. You developed a lot in your style and you have different ways how to portrait persons in various situations, but mostly like in a profile photo. Why did you choose this kind of topic and what do you like about drawing and painting humans?

Actually it’s obvious that I draw more often people, but I have some drawings on abstract things as well. Basically I prefer drawing people to develop myself more because I believe there are so many techniques which can only be learned while drawing people and which must be put in place to get a perfect art. Learning these various techniques through drawing humans will make drawing abstract objects simpler for me. I believe we all have something we like and hold on dearly. Drawing is like a lifestyle to me. It’s fun and it’s a passion. And it really gives me satisfaction and pleasure. I see painting humans as a way of acknowledging nature itself.

When I look on your great artworks, it reminds a bit of photos from a family photo album. You transport this message of togetherness or tribute to the community in a lot of your artworks. Tell us more about what you think about family.

You really got the perfect interpretation to most of my artworks. It’s very much about FAMILY. To me family is everything! But I as a person while growing up didn’t have the liberty of enjoying the fullness, love and care engraved in family. And so because of this limitation and unfulfilled desires, I decided to uplift the pains from my heart and put it into my artworks. Also that way I can preach the message of togetherness and the love of the family to humanity.

Meanwhile you draw a lot in black and white and you seldom use colors. But in your earlier works you had a lot of color drawings. How did you make them, also with color pencils? And why did you change more to just black and white artworks?

That’s true. I suddenly change my art to black and white, because I just wanted to know in what I am good at. I want to be able to use all my materials the way I want them. So I have to learn and start from the beginning. Using different materials to draw might not define the artist correctly, except if the artist is already a professional in the field. So now I have divided to learn everything step by step. So that’s pencil artwork at first and the other materials will follow. Except if there is the time when I just feel like using color.

On some of your photos there are several tools and materials shown. Tell us a bit more how you create the artworks in detail. Because often you have an original photo and then you draw it on paper. But I also saw you have some kind of system with squares and lines. Tell us you you construct the drawing.

I used grid methods in most of my artworks because it’s easier and helps me to get the image I am drawning accurately. And this way I am also able to follow the reference in details precisely. Of course sometimes I draw without that too, but I use the square lines mostly when I am working on the commissioned works.

What does “doing art” mean to you. Tell us more about that.

I love doing art, but as we all know it can be sometimes that “ART” is discouraging.  Mostly especially if you are doing it with the purpose of getting money. This even increases more and more if you continue to do that. That’s the wrong way. You have to do it because of the passion you have for it.

Are there other artists around in town or in the country which you can recommend? 

I don’t really think I have a particular artist that I used to interact with but instead I follow and learned a lot from a lot of the top artist around the country. Great and important ones are Kelven Okophor, Okpom and Brulio, but also many more. In am always interested and I look for input on what the others did, I learn from them. And I am curios, I want to know more!

Tell us a little more about the place where you live. You currently live in Ilorin in the Oyo region.

Yes, Ilorin is the city I am going to college presently. I like Ilorin because it is a city of the Yoruba people, which is another tribe in Nigeria. And the oportunity to study here create more open doors for me to learn. I mean to learn their way of life and their culture as well. I am from the northern part of Nigeria and now that I found my self in the southern part, I think that should be an opportunity for me to learn. Especially as an artist. That’s one of the reason I love the place. And of course I also wish to travel many other places around the world just to gain new impressions which I can draw on paper!

You live in Ilorin at the moment, but you are originally from the town Salka. Tell us more about your home town.

Yes, that’s correct. I am originally from Salka in the Niger state in the midwest of Nigeria, but at the moment I am in Ilorin in the Oyo region because of my education at the Kwara State College. When it comes about my home town there is a lot to talk about in fact. I often call my town „ART station“. Not because there are artist there, but just because of the nature of the place. As an artist anytime I visit my home town I get new ideas. Always when I am going there I find new titles or motifs and then I want to paint it on paper. There are a lot of impressions especially on the market days and during the festivals periods.

Tell us a bit more about the college and your studies. Would you like to continue in the arts? And what are your plans for later?

There in the collage besides art we study and focus on several subjects and for us art students we do get offered literature, English, languages – here they have Youruba language, Housa or French – and many more subjects. Now  one of my plans was to study law in the future, but now that I have discovered the real me, I think it won’t be wise to mess that up. I remember discussing this with some of my friends that I want to study law in my university. Guest what? All of them were mad at me saying, are out of your mind ?!? After discovering now the best of youself, you still want to go for the wrong course? So I think it will be art. But anyway, I am not passionate for art because of what my friends and family says, but further more I am just trying to satisfy my passion, so that I won’t have any course to regret later.

What are your plans for the future? Do you want to become a professional artist?

Now concerning what I will like to do later with my art, there is a lot on the ground and I hope that God will give my life a good journey. I always dream to have my own art gallery and that the whole world would come for a visit! With exhibitions, excurions, research and that visitors even could spent their holidays with  families and friends there. And there is a lot to see around in our country!

Do you think you can live on the income with your art later? Are there a lot of commissions at the moment? I think when you start with something like that, others see those artworks, like friends or family, and then they maybe also want to have an artwork like that. How do you get your commissions? And does it also mean, if somebody reads this here, they could actually contact you for a commission work?

Yes, I think that I can live on the income on my art and even more. If my dream over my art pursuit should come true. For now I don’t have much commission works. Probably because I am still a student, but also sometimes I have to reject works because I need to focus on my studies. Mostly I get my commissions from friends and there family members. That happens mostly via social media or through Facebook followers. But also via other groups like church members. And yes, of course! Interested readers can contact me via my channels! Even though for now I deliver my artworks only within Nigeria, but it would be my pleasure to transport it worldwide.

Tell us a bit more about how you get your inspiration. I am sure you are very curious and you look around and watch the people closely. So how does it happen? Do you get several impressions of other people or you see them, and then you think about drawing them? How does that work and what fascinates you about that?

I do get my inspiration from day to day life activities. Me for example, I grew up in a family where love is only given to the specials. Now what do I mean by specials? I lived with my uncle after I lost my dad and my mom got married to another man while me I was left in my uncles house as a heir to my dad. So for the “new” family, when five original things were bought one fake one was included and that fake belongs to me while the good ones were for his children. And that’s why most of my art today are based on families, love and dreams. And sometimes based on memories of the past.

You said you would like to go to other places and get impressions also from there. Which places would you like to visit one day? And maybe if you could have an exhibiton one day in the future somewhere in world, where would you like to have one?

This is funny. I never travelled out of the country before and also I was never given the chance to choose where I would like to go if I have the opportunity! I would like to travel to the Philippines and to the UK. Also Dubai, Kanada, France, the United States and many more countries around the world.

What would you like to tell other artists who maybe just started. Sometimes it can be difficult and discouraging, also stressful and not everything works like expected. What would you tell others to motivate them? How do you motivate yourself to continue with art?

Well, to my fellow artists. Yes it is true that art can be sometimes discouraging and frustrating, especially as a beginner. And even apart from that your colleagues might or make jokes of your art. Dear upcoming artists: Always remember that there is no gain without game. Of course as a beginner you should expect trials! Yes, that’s how it is and you have to go through.

Myself for example, when I started art, I was desperate not just to continue learning but wanting to be having commission works. Then one day a girl from my school approached me and said pleas can you help me drawing my mom for her 50th birthday? I was so happy and without any further conversation I asked her to send some pictures through via WhatsApp or Facebook. She did and in three days time I was done and framed the work. So we agreed to meet in school. When I went to school I was actually expecting to meet her alone but I met her with her friends. And they were all curious to see the artwork. Innocently I was happy about that. But when I removed the work from the nylon guess what? What came out of her mouth was: Is this my mom? My mom is not as old as this! And look at the mouth at the one side. Why does it look like that? So because of that she was not encouraged to take the work but reject it! I went back home that day frustrated, angry and felt disqualified. Immediately I got home that day I tore the work into pieces. All my sleepless three days were wasted!

Now put yourself in my shoes and think about what would be your reaction if it happens to be you? But what I am trying to bring out with this story is, that as a beginner don’t run faster than your legs. Take your time to really learn art. And do it intensively. Either pencil or painting or any other genre. Be confident in yourself and believe you can do it. Avoid distractions about what others are saying about your work, because often that is not encouraging. Keep on going your way and keep on practicing. And you will see your artworks becoming better and better.






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