Fashion sketching, how common is it to see this in the West? Very common. Indeed before most fashion designers sew their designs, they typically put pencil to paper with sketches of the brilliant and at times crazy ideas going on in their heads. The fashion sketches then serve as a road map for their sample creations and ultimately larger garment production from that sample. Fashion illustration which encompasses sketching but is not as common as sketching is also something you would see more often in the West than Nigeria.
Fashion Illustrators are responsible for helping fashion professionals such as fashion magazines, retailers, public relations and marketing communicate their fashion message through their drawings, sketching or paintings.
Understanding this backdrop and quick definitions, for industry novices, can you name any Nigerian Fashion Illustrators? How many Nigerian “designers” are you aware of that sketch their designs before attempting to consruct the real deal?Okay so maybe a hand or two went up but for the most part, most of your hands remained by your sides. Allow us to introduce you, in this exclusive, to our Ladybrille®Nigeria Personality of the Month, Ibeabuchi Ananaba (Ibe) a talented artist and Fashion Illustrator whose work, we believe, will “wow” you just like it did us.
Ibe, we think, might just be one of the new and leading crop of fashion illustrators who will help strengthen and further Nigeria’s fashion and design industry with his talent and skills. Let’s meet him, shall we! Also be sure to catch him and his work in person at the Goethe Institute in Lagos on October 10th, 2009.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Hi Ibe, it is nice to finally make this interview happen. Your work has been so impressive but we never could quite seem to connect to make this happen. How are you?
Ibeabuchi Ananaba (Ibe): Wow . . .I am fine. A big thanks for asking and I’m also happy we finally made this happen.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Many, even within Nigeria (Naija), do not know who you are. Would you please introduce yourself?
Ibe: (laughs) My name is Ibeabuchi Ananaba. I’m from Obegu, Ugwunagbor L.G.A -Abia State. I was (born in Belgium and raised) in Aba but I am now based in Lagos. I am a Fine and Applied Arts Graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu (1999 set). I majored in Painting. My hobbies are listening to music, enjoying jokes and sketching.
I grew up with the ambition to touch lives with my creativity and the ambition still remains the same. While many, even within Nigeria, might not know me now but I know that things evolve. With time, things will unfold and like FAZE (a popular Nigerian music artist) sang – “One day dem go holla my name”!
Ladybrille®Nigeria: (laughs) Good choice of artist to quote. FAZE is actually one of my all time favorite artist out of Naija. Indeed “One day dem go holla (your) name” if you keep up the quality work. We will talk a bit more about your artwork in general but first, you do fashion illustrations. Where did your interest in fashion come from?
Ibe: (It) comes from my appreciation of nature and the human form. I love figures a lot. The human structure is amazingly dynamic. It has every flow and rhythm you enjoy when listening to your best music. It is so complete that God had to make out time to create it last. That said, I have always had the zeal to create designs that would enhance or compliment the human form. As time went on, I developed interest in flipping through magazines and appreciating fashion trends, styles and illustrations.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Okay Let’s talk more about your art work. I know there are a few galleries here and there within Nigerian but paint the picture for us in terms of the state of art in Nigeria?
Ibe: The state of art in Nigeria, in my view, is like a flower yet to bloom. People are beginning to appreciate things and getting to open their minds to ideas. If you look at some locally made music videos, you’ll appreciate the new breeze. Somehow it might seem cheap but then the fact that one realizes he/she has to make a mark or even dare to attempt is a pointer to sunny days. Beyond the visual arts, the music industry is growing as well as the movie industry. Together they help uplift our image but then I think the need for the government to see the potential and give a heavy support is crucial.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Outside the country it is hard for artist to make money and that is even in societies where art is really appreciated. “How you take manage for Naija?”
Ibe: (laughs) In as much as “man mus’ wack,” I deeply do this for the love. With this in mind, I got myself a job. I work as a Senior Art Director at an advertising agency here in Naija called Insight Communications Limited. It is a job that always task the brain and gives you room to create. It has helped expand my mind and opens a window for me to get a grasp of how the human mind could be influenced by what we think . . .
There is this feel good (feeling) when you realize you are part of a ground-breaking campaign that everyone talks about, or at least you witnessed one or can understand the process.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Back to fashion. Within the context of fashion in Nigeria, you don’t per se hear about sketches as much as you do in the West. Have you thought about collaborating with Nigerian designers who maybe are not as gifted in fashion sketching to help them really capture their imaginative designs on paper?
Ibe: I have had that within me ever since but I’m yet to meet a designer I can connect with so we can shake the world. Although times are changing, I notice a lot of things within the fashion industry is picking up. There is more energy and vitality now on the street level but I know there is always room for (improvement). You just have to notice that gap and fill it or else one goes irrelevant.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Where do you see Nigeria’s art world going?
Ibe: It is moving forward despite the many challenges. There is hope. There’s a new Naija awakening in various aspects including the arts. From performing art to visual arts, there’s a shift that’s favoring a lot of people down here. Awareness is gradually growing.
We’ve witnessed big art events like ARESUVA and ART EXPO twice here in Nigeria. They might not have met or equaled the standards (in the West) but the fact is that something new is happening and it’s begun to revive lost hopes and encourage upcoming artists. Big brands are beginning to realize the vital role art plays in the communities they operate in, so it has opened a new channel for the business of art to flourish.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: What galleries would you recommend we check out to see some pure talent?
Ibe: Some virtual galleries like www.lineguage.com, www.seekproject.com and a whole lot of others are there to visit. One of the cutest new galleries I discovered is Artistic Liscence at Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island. Terra Kulture is another cool place. YabaTech Art Department, AFA gallery, Quintessence Gallery, Mydrim gallery,Omenka Gallery,Nike gallery and more within Lagos. There are also (many) galleries across Nigeria with some great hidden talents although most galleries are concentrated here in Lagos.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Where are some of the hangout spots for up and coming artists and art lovers looking to be inspired?
Ibe: Terra Kulture, Center for Contemporary Arts, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos, Universal Studios at National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, Kelechi Amadi-obi Studio, Photo, Garage and a whole lot of places in Lagos.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: Are you teaching or offering any art courses in Nigeria?
Ibe: Not yet, perhaps one day it will happen.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: What are some of your upcoming art projects?
Ibe: At the moment, I have an upcoming art exhibition at Goethe-Institute Lagos titled AGAINST ALL ODDS. It is an art exhibition of my ballpoint pen drawings. I call it an epistle from me to the public advocating for HOPE. I want to use it as a pulling force to draw people together aiming to stir up a paradigm shift. I also have an incomplete fashion art project titled SELENSE. “Selense” is a slang I heard while growing up to mean “show-off” or “to flaunt.” It is a project that celebrates the fashion sense of today’s contemporary chic woman, irrespective of race and geographical location.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: We are still getting our minds around the creative arts in terms of presenting and preserving the culture in a way that is appreciated. Any suggestions on how the country can preserve our rich arts and culture?
Ibe: My suggestion would be foundational. It has to start from the grass-root level. It has to start from the school curriculum. The awareness and appreciation needs to be taught and emphasized from a tender age. People need to be well informed so they can function with a liberated mindset. Art in my days in school was mostly misinterpreted. Art goes way beyond what people think it is. Art transcends entertainment and ranges from informative to educative and even therapeutic. Art, one way or the other, influences our way of thinking, living and behavioral patterns which makes up our culture. It explains and shows our heritage and identity.
Living a well balanced life also would help in preserving our artistic culture. Some term it as a waste to take time from the daily crazy hustle to explore art while some don’t realize its essence. Some know how to travel far to appreciate a sight seeing while some fail to see the need. A balanced lifestyle helps open and equip the mind on how to preserve what is yours.
I also think strong campaigns that reinforce the essence and importance of our artistic culture and the need to preserve them are also very important, campaigns which reach the masses through different media that grabs people’s attention. Other programs like trainings could help out too.
Ladybrille®Nigeria: (Well said). Our final question for you. Who are the “must know” Nigerian artists within and outside the country?
Ibe: Within Nigeria names like Kelechi Amadi Obi , Henry Morkah, Ugo Ananaba, Uche Iroha, Enyinnaya Ihediwa, Chima Etu, Chamberlin Ukenedo, Rom Isichei, Kainebi Osahenye, Edosa Oguigo, Segun Adejumo, Ben Osaghae and Nsikak Essien. Outside Nigeria names like Okey Iwundu, Onyeka Ibe, Ugochukwu Smooth-Nzewi, Bright Eke, Pita Ohiwerei, Olu Amoda and Iheanyi Ihediwa are all names to know.
~Interview by Uduak Oduok
~Photocredit: Ibe Ananaba
To see more of Ibe’s work, visit him at www.ibeananaba.com
A running feature for 12 years on Ladybrille.com, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email [email protected].