‘My Sketchbook’ finder: Revealed

IMG_20141130_191156 Hope sketch2

Show yourself!

My name is Ifeanyi Ifemeje, an Igbo boy from across the Niger, Imo state. I am the eldest in a family of six and spent the better part of my growing years in Benin.

Arts? When? How? Why?

I don’t really remember the when, but my mum says I started drawing in Primary Four. I was melancholic as a child so I stayed busy in my head by myself, and on the outside, I found solace in pencils and paper. I found that I liked it. Later I would do drawing assignments for my classmates – Fine Arts, Agric, Health, Sciences, anything that had drawings I did. I enjoyed it, and it came very easy to me, I didn’t have to stress or anything. So I just kept doing –

(butts in) Did you know then how good you were or you just enjoyed drawing?

I just enjoyed it. And I kept pushing myself. For example, I liked cartoons so after watching on TV I would try to recreate the characters on paper. If I got the same smiling face as when I watched it on screen, then I knew I had gotten it right. I also paid attention to details, I didn’t have to struggle with that either. So I just kept getting better. Immediately after secondary school, I discovered an artist named Owolabi Pius and I spent three months in his studio learning pastel. Ironically, when I was done with that, I still couldn’t place a finger on what I had learnt from the whole err…

Internship?

(snickers) Yes, internship. But in 2007, a politician was campaigning in my village. My aunt suggested that I do a portrait of him and send it to him. It sounded like a good idea so I rallied my savings and bought pastel paper, pastel colors, a board and started working. I spent about 2-3 weeks on it, painting almost non-stop. When I finished, my savings was exhausted so I had to borrow money to buy a frame. After framing, I took it to him. He liked it immediately, and after talking with me, asked his P.A. to give me five hundred thousand.

 shocked baby_NAIRA

(laughs) Yes, Naira. We – my brother and I – met the P.A. who gave us an envelope. We ran home, locked the doors and windows, shut all the curtains and opened the envelope to see that it was just two hundred and fifty thousand in it. We were not so happy, but hey, two-fifty was a lot of money still. So I took it and shared it out among my people then.

Big boy!

(laughs) Yels! Anyway that made me think that I was sitting on a pot of gold. I mean, I like doing this, and people are willing to pay THIS much for it, so why not?! I dove into it with all I had. At about that time, I gained admission into the university to study Biotechnology. Through my time in school, I was still drawing and painting part-time.

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Are you doing this full-time now? Anything on the side?

Not full-time yet. Presently, I am ajuwaya (NYSC member); I teach Biology and Animal Husbandry in a secondary school. I also work as an Assistant Graphics Designer for Whits&Stratts here in Lagos.

Plans for the future?

A colleague and I have just started our own firm, Lava DigiArts which true to its name, focuses on digital arts. The idea was unique and it won first place in Shell’s entrepreneurship grant scheme; so right now, we have office space and a grant with which we have started work, using digital means to create art that will appeal in quality and cost to the high and middle class. While working on this, of course, I will keep at my pencils and paint.

Now, let’s talk about ‘My Sketchbook’.

Yeeeaaahhh…(laughs)

My Sketchbook

What was your first thought upon reading the post?

Well, reading up to a point, I thought it was personal. A lot of people experience such things, just that the writer in this case chose to tell her story with the unique idea of a sketchpad. Apart from the angle of romantic love, there are other ways in which people give a lot of love and get nothing in return. Mothers are a very good example. An example that quickly comes to mind is the mother of St. Thomas Aquinas, who despite his rebelliousness kept praying and soliciting on behalf of her son. And at the most unlikely time, against all odds, this prodigal son turned a new leaf and rose to become one of the greatest saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Love is not the easiest of ideals but there are people who keep giving it even when they only get woes in return. I really don’t know what inspires such people but while it is really sad to look at, I also think it’s beautiful.

So when I read ‘My Sketchbook’, I truly empathized with the person who wrote it – I don’t know her, by the way. But beyond empathy, I connected with her on a deeper level of art – I know how it feels to give someone your sketchpad and he just does rubbish with it. I felt her pain. Christ is the prime example of love and after his sacrifice he was ultimately glorified by God. So I thought, “if I were in the shoes of Christ, what I would do is to reward her sacrifice – give her another sketchpad, another heart”.

Then again I thought, “but I can. I can give her a new sketchpad, with a beautiful sketch on it, make it bigger and better.”

When she lost her sketchpad, she sowed a seed of love that had died under rejection and ill treatment. But a seed dies so that a flower can grow. I wanted to make that happen for her. And that was it.

A word to our WAW readers, their votes persuaded you to SHOW YOURSELF by the way.

Yes oh, here I am! (laughs)

About ‘Words Are Work’, I honestly do not follow faithfully. Only time to time, I get links from my friends on whatsapp and I check it out. I am pretty busy a lot of the time, but yeah, I enjoy it each time I visit there. It’s a very cool blog.

Yeah…WAW is cool. Okay, any last words?

Hmmm…for Hope or Hope’s character – I don’t know if it was a real life experience or fictional poetry, but I’ll say, continue to give love. Continue to love, even when it’s unrequited, continue to sacrifice –

(cuts in) Really? In this ‘dog-eat-dog’ world?

(laughs) Oh yes, and I know it’s a tough stance. But I’m a Christian and I believe life works best that way. And if I believe and live by that, I believe there is one other person, two, three other people who believe it too. And slowly but surely, we’ll make the world a better place.

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…then we had a large lunch and made my tummy a better place 🙂

I am @ojukwu_martin on twitter

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18 thoughts on “‘My Sketchbook’ finder: Revealed

  1. Aww.. #speechless good one Mr. Ifemeje.. you are not alone with your beliefs.. the Lord bless you with more love as you keep showing love and thinking WWJD #thumbs

    • Omo, the lunch was laaarge mehnnnn.lol. More paint to his brushes too…I should have stolen some of his works for display here – still could…
      Thanks Waltz

  2. So the masquerade is a man! It was nice to finally meet the the man behind those beautiful works of art after all the suspense. Keep it up brother. How much will it cost to have a pencil portrait of my photo…. (The one chisom used when he published my black is good article)?
    As for you Chisom, nwa Ojukwu, thank you for this platform.. Onye Oga Dili Nma.

  3. I love me the concluding sentence …vintage Martin!!! Ifeanyi you gats to hook us up with them politicians. I need to…

    ….

    …..

    ….

    Electrocute some of them! 😠

  4. “…But a seed dies so that a flower can grow….”

    I never really saw it that way.

    But then Hope is wondering…this new sketchbook of hers, does she still trust, does she still give? It’s a tough stance for her.

    Between, I love what you do with your pencil. For me, I combined mine with this crazy love for concrete n steel… so its Architecture for me…n I’m loving every bit of it.

    I must say I appreciate you finding my sketchbook for me…I really do. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you Ifeanyi Ifemeje. Thank you Chisom. 🙂

  5. Perfect! Thank you Ifeanyi,( I almost thought u wud be adimonye). But still, it’s an Ifeanyi. Wonderful of u to look the write up in such a special n unique way!! Good work Martin, Hope n Ifeanyi. I like the way it all ended, plus the fact that it was not planned to come out that way.

  6. Awwww…..The sketchbook finder is Ify …One of Golden Voices’s finest.
    I hope that in those times when we feel like we have no more love to give, we remember the example of Christ’s love and continue dishing out more sketch pads. God bless your kind heart and the work of your hands.
    Thanks Hope for sharing this story, twas quite emotional.

    Ojukwu Martins Chisom…..may your stomach always be in a better place

  7. Ifemeje! So ur d samaritan. Nice one though am not surprised more bristles to your brush…lumen ojukwu, far be it from u that ur ink runs dry

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