•Tell us about yourself and how did the whole dream startup?
My name is Mary Ogochukwu Nwele. I was born on 24th October 1990, into a family of five children, two boys and three girls and I am the third child. I am from Ikwo L.G.A in Ebonyi State. I was born and bred in Awka, Anambra state where I had my education from primary to university level. I lost my Dad while I was still in a secondary school in 2006 and I must say it wasn’t easy after his death. He was a photographer and my mum was a hairstylist. I started developing an interest in art during my primary school days, then I use to watch my elder brother do his art homework given to him by his class teacher and after which I will go and practice what he has done. it was through that my zeal for art started getting stronger every day. Through my brother, I learned how to design an architectural building with paper and I was always the best whenever it comes to anything that had to do with art in school; On one faithful day while I was still in secondary school I came across “Innocent Idibia” a.k.a Tu baba’s picture on a compact disk and something in me told me I could draw his face same way it is on the CD, I picked up my pencil and paper and when I finished drawing, it looked exactly like Tu baba, I was so happy and excited, with that excitement I started drawing other artistes like p_square, Akon, some persons that participated in big brother Africa in the year 2008. That same year me and my elder brother drew our Dad and when we presented it to him he confirmed that I draw better than my elder brother, that got me more motivated and because of the Passion and love I have for art I decided to study fine and Applied Arts in the university at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra state. And I graduated in the year 2016.
2: What were the biggest initial hurdles to developing your talent and how did you overcome them? Developing my talent was not really that easy. During my secondary school level, we never had a serious art teacher. She always found it difficult to come to class. She really discouraged me because she made it look like art subject is not important but I never gave up, I practiced on my own with my textbooks. Again during my university level, we did more of theory courses than practical courses. We hardly saw any lecturer working in the school for us to learn from them instead they gave us assignments and tell us when to submit. It was a big challenge to me, so what I did was to learn from my colleagues and I also made use of the internet like watching art videos on YouTube and read textbooks as well.
3). Did you ever deal with contention from your family concerning your talent and choice of profession?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight? There was nothing of sort while growing up. My parents knew very well that I have Passion for art before my father died he knew that I had developed an interest in art, though I didn’t tell him I was going to further art in the university. It was more of friends I had to contend with, some encouraged me while some discouraged me. Some told me since I am already into art, why not go for other courses, while some told me to go and perfect my skill in the university. But then I had already made up my mind to study Art at the university. My dad wanted me to study law but I knew if he was alive he wouldn’t have denied me my choice of profession. And also if not art I would have studied marketing •
4) What was your business’ original mission?
How has that mission evolved in the time since? As an artist I said to myself that I am going to put all my very best into my work, to make sure I can stand on my own, open up an art studio, have a student working under me, and participate in exhibitions both local and international. After my Nysc in Owerri, Imo State in 2017, I came back to Awka with the little savings I opened an Art studio which thrived, I also had students working under me ..but after a long, while I decided to leave my comfort zone and have since relocated to Lagos where I have been able to see different artist, and their works, visit art galleries and attend exhibitions too. The whole idea behind the move was to grow as an artist, explore a higher zone where art activities are going on, learn from my superiors who have been into art for years and I saw Lagos as a better place to be and the journey has been worth it.
•5) How did you build a consumer culture around your product?
Art is basically food for the soul, so I put in my best into it. Whenever am working on artwork for my clients I always want to impress and exceed client expectation by doing exactly what they want, creating the work of art the way it will make them coming back for more.
6) What would you say was the single most influential factor in your talent?
Hard work and dedication
7) What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as an artist?
I don’t think I can remember any for now
•8) What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?
Most times I take work, I watch movies or I can decide to take a nap. It also depends on my mood at the moment. Even when I am not drained I always like to take a break while working to do some other things so that whenever I come back for the work I will be able to see some mistakes that need to be corrected.
9) How do you believe evolving technology will impact the way we do business over the next 10 years?
I believe that as time goes on the evolving technology will reduce the stress in every areas of art business in sculpture, graphics, textiles, ceramics and in painting we already have different materials one can use to work like oil colors, poster colors, acrylics, pastels, and so many others and I believe more are still coming out that can make work easier and faster
10) What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an artist?
I will not say is one or two things. There are many of them but one thing I wish I knew when I got started was my color theory. Colour is one element of art that in any area of art one belongs to if you’re not able to manipulate your colors very well it will be a big problem for the artist.
11) Who are the people that mentored you into your current business?
First was my lecturer in the university, Prof Okechukwu Nwafor. Who was the head of my department during my university days, though I haven’t seen him work in my presence his advice and motivation really helped me a lot. Again during my Industrial training at the Universal Studios of Arts Lagos in 2014, I meet few professional artists that helped shaped my knowledge in art, people like. Mr. Wallace Ejor, Mr. Joshua Nmesirionye. and Mr. Olaku Biodiun.
12) •What is the best advice you received recently, and that you still follow?
There were three pieces of advice I was given during my industrial training one is work, two is work and three is work it has always been all about work because the more I work the more I discover myself.
13) • How do you balance your work and your personal life especially when you have multiple jobs to complete?
I always plan myself in such a way that no matter how much work I get it will not affect my personal life. Whenever I have lots of works to do I will only deprive myself of a few things and I will make sure I work day and night just to meet up with the time given and that does not stop me from taking care of my needs because I always give myself a break.