Jibola Fagbamiye has been an illustrator for as long as he can remember. He was born in Nigeria and lives in Toronto, where he runs a social painting studio called Sip and Paint. His work mixes digital design, traditional painting and comic illustration.
1. Your work mixes different styles. Can you walk me through your process?
The funny thing is, I learnt how to draw using a pen. Sometime in my 20s, I decided to start using pencils. Both feel natural, creating countless random strokes to create something out of my imagination is always exciting. However, in recent years, I’ve spent lots and lots of hours developing how to paint digitally using vector design. Vector design is basically creating very clean lines and colors with a computer software; it’s what graphic designers use for logos. So, I combine drawing, a very organic art form, with the rigidity of vector graphics to create my art.
2. Describe a typical day for you.
My day is never typical. Most days, after my morning coffee, I spend about 3 – 4 hours drawing before I head to the gym. Then, a huge chunk of the day is spent on sales, marketing, and event planning for Sip and Paint. On Monday nights, I do life drawing – which is typically about 3 hours long. Overall, there is never enough time to balance creativity and business but I do the best I can.
3. What or who inspires you?
Many things. Music. Conversations. Events that move me emotionally. I’m also inspired by other artists – from the masters like Klimt, Van Gogh and Barber to destructive artists like Gariokwu and Warhol.
4. Do you think it is important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
That’s a good question. I think it depends on the end goal. In terms of just getting the skill, you don’t really need formal education, but lots of practice time. However, if you get the right kind of education it speeds up your learning process. For example, I learned the most as an artist while I was learning at Seneca because I picked up so many little tricks that may have taken ages to learn. Then again, there are artists who are amazing, like Basquiat, Van Gogh, who have little to no formal art education. One value for formal education is, you learn about the industry, the lingo, the grants, and all the opportunities that are out there … but from a skill perspective, I don’t see any real value.
5. Do you think that art needs to have a message?
Art is self-expression. People do art for a billion and one reasons but it’s ultimately a way to express themselves. Forcing self-expression to have a definitive message may constrain it. Is it still art when you constrain self-expression? I guess personally, I feel its sometimes more interesting if it has a message, but there is so much more to enjoy on a piece of art – colors, composition and so on.
6. You were born in Nigeria and live in Toronto. Does where you live affect your creativity?
Not entirely. I like to think I spent a lot more time drawing when I was in Nigeria but I guess that was because I was a lot younger then and I was growing. I feel my work is more meaningful in Toronto, more insightful (I hope so anyway). Maybe because I’m older, maybe I spend a lot more time thinking about the work …
7. Have you had any career disappointments?
Oh!!! You have noooo idea! I can write a book about disappointments!
8. Do you feel that you've arrived or "made it" as an artist?
Nope! I don’t believe in that idea anyway – arriving. There is so much to learn, to experience, you need a few lifetimes maybe ...
9. What's your dream art project?
Right now, to publish a graphic novel by a major publishing house like 1st Second or Fantagraphics. Exhibit at Art Basel Miami.
10. What's next for you?
To grow my business is first priority. Getting more people to experience Sip and Paint, I really believe what we’re doing is truly special, getting people who have never painted before to create something, is very rewarding on so many levels. I’ll also like to have more shows, both locally and internationally. I’d like to exhibit in Lagos, New York, Dubai…. Also, there’s still a lot of room to grow artistically, a lot to learn about colors, anatomy and all the technical stuff. Right now though, I feel like I’m in a good place … I’m grateful.
Tap into your inner Picasso with Sip and Paint
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Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos provided by Jibola Fagbamiye