My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Funmbi Adeoni is a talented artist who has carried a deep passion for art since her childhood years. Although she never took her artistic aspirations seriously, the transformative events of the COVID-19 pandemic propelled her to embark on a journey of self-discovery and artistic growth. Now, through dedication and consistency, she has emerged as a professional artist, bringing her unique creative vision to life. Here is Adeoni’s pivot journal.
How it started.
I studied English and Literary Studies, and since my time in secondary school, it was clear that I was going to tread the path because of my love for language. I never held the same level of enthusiasm for mathematics.
Upon graduation, my initial plan was to pursue a career in lecturing. However, luck seemed to be on my side as I landed an administrative position at Lead City University, a private university in Ibadan. Following my year of service at Lead City University, I found myself enjoying the administrative work I was involved in, specifically within the accounting and management department. Although the job was fulfilling, it also proved to be quite demanding due to its tedious nature.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I observed many people showcasing their skills online, which made me question my abilities and wonder if I lacked talent. I thought about what to do and I remembered my interest in drawing. While in secondary school, I had a knack for creating biology drawings, and in my University days as well, I had created a portrait of myself and displayed it proudly in my room, receiving compliments from friends who visited. I regarded it as something nice, but not necessarily a special skill. With the pandemic came the opportunity to explore this avenue of personal growth.
Not long after I began, a friend commissioned me to create a portrait for them, and despite my doubts, I reluctantly accepted the task. The outcome was far from satisfactory, and when I shared it online, a friend bluntly advised me to never touch a pencil again, which left me feeling insulted. In a lighthearted manner, my mom encouraged me, saying, “It has eyes, nose, and mouth. It is nice.” Her words, although simple, carried a supportive message.
Despite not taking art seriously then, I found myself constantly drawn to it. As my mom urged me to find a job, I diligently searched and applied online, eventually landing a marketing position in a petroleum company. My responsibilities involved promoting and selling their diesel products. While the job was demanding, I remained steadfast in pursuing my artistic passion. I dedicated a year to this role, gaining valuable experience in the field. But it was stressful and I had to drop the job. In my quest for inspiration, I came across an artist named Frank Sketches on Instagram, who had a significant following. Taking a chance, I reached out to him and he responded, requesting that I send him samples of my work, which I promptly did.
Since the artist I connected with lived far from my location, our communication primarily took place online, where I would send him my work for feedback and guidance. However, due to time constraints from my job and other commitments, I couldn’t dedicate as much attention to art as I would have liked. Nonetheless, my skills gradually improved over time, and I observed a positive change compared to when I first began working with him.
Initially, my main goal in art was to improve my skills rather than make money. I turned to YouTube to learn from experienced artists and gain valuable information. I learnt from Arinze Stanley, kelvin okafor, Jono Dry, and Jason’s legendary art.
My first commissioned job came unexpectedly from my sister’s friend, who wanted me to create a portrait. Interestingly, it turned out better than the previous work.
Along the line of learning, Tosin Toromade, a renowned artist in Ibadan, invited me to an artist gathering and subsequently offered to mentor me in painting. I began my training with him last year, although my progress was hindered by other commitments and projects that kept me busy. Nonetheless, during the time I was able to dedicate to learning from him, I gained valuable knowledge and skills that have greatly enriched my artistic journey.
In addition to utilizing YouTube tutorials and attending training sessions, I have also taken advantage of the internet to explore the works of artists whom I aspire to be like one day. Whenever they host live sessions or share their creative process online, I participate to observe and learn from their techniques. I also regularly browse through their art portfolios and social media pages. Sometimes, simply observing their creations is enough to motivate me to start working on my pieces. As an artist, studying the works of others provides valuable insights and serves as a wellspring of inspiration for my artistic endeavours.
How it is going
I have fully embraced art as my profession, dedicating all my time and efforts to it. And I am making commendable growth in the space. I offer artwork in various sizes, each with its pricing, catering to different budgets. However, some clients underestimate the expenses involved, questioning why I charge a certain price for my work, simply because it’s “just a drawing.” However, the truth is that art supplies, from paper to erasers, can be quite costly, especially when some of them are imported and not readily available in Nigeria. In my city, Ibadan, these materials can be found in only a few places.
Amongst several works, I have had the opportunity to create a portrait of Musiliu Akinsanya (MC Oluomo) leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Lagos.
I plan to delve into painting and have already started procuring the necessary materials. This has always been my dream. It holds great potential for financial rewards, particularly through exhibiting my artwork in galleries both in Nigeria and internationally. I am excited about the prospects the path holds for me.
One of the key factors that has brought me to this stage in my career is consistency. It stands out as the most crucial element. If I had not been dedicated to practising and had given up along the way, I would not have achieved the level of success I have reached today.
Even the most talented individuals in the field need consistency to continue improving. This consistency is not only crucial for personal growth but also for gaining recognition from others. By consistently honing your skills, you establish yourself as a reliable professional, which helps people notice your work.