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Why Olaku says emerging artists are confused

“A lot of young artists are so green, so innocent, so naïve that they are mostly taken advantage of,” says Nigerian artist, Abiodun Olaku, who is displeased with the way artists, especially the young ones are being manipulated in the art market.

“We know that we have to pay our dues in the early days, but it does not mean that people should suck all the potentials and dump him or her after they have taken all the juice.” The realist artist further says, “Those potencies need to be coordinated so that it can be part of the shackle of economic activity, because we (artists) all contribute to the economy of the country, one way or the other.”

Olaku in an interview with Arts and Culture Place, notes that many emerging artists are confused. “Sometimes the confusion starts from the school because most schools teach art based on their own peculiar philosophies and ideologies, or sometimes they try to reorient the students in terms of their philosophy and style because everybody tends to produce all kind of frankincense and all kinds of clothes today as art.”

He continues: “Unfortunately, some of their teachers don’t have their works in the market, part of the teaching of art in school days is that they don’t let the art students to understand that after graduation everything they do is destined for the market place like other professionals.”

Market place, he says, “Is the value for your knowledge, where you get paid like other professionals. Doctors, accountants, lawyer and others get paid for what they know. The artist is not trained from school to know what he is doing is valuable, and worthy of exchange in the business world. They are trained to make them look like they are just talented…display your talent.”
A piece by Olaku
To address this issue, he is of the view that school curriculum needs to be looked into, adding that training after school such as internship programme is necessary for any artist who just left school. “Artist should be groomed on how to enter the market and behave professionally, and the only way you can get some of these knowledge is by going through some mentorship, or attachment, with an experienced or established artist, so that they can guard you along the line.”

Creative etiquette he says has been neglected by many artists, this he says is affecting the newcomers. “We know what art should be, new nomenclatures are being created everyday as contemporary art. You have the Modern Art, African Art, Traditional Art, new this, new that, and some of these terms tend to confuse the young artists who are coming out of school. These artists graduate and they don’t know if they should go left or right.”

Speaking to both established and upcoming artists, he urges them to always engage with people they do business with and to be professional. “Artists should stop being beggarly, we should see ourselves as business partners. I can say with all sense of responsibility that most artists operate on weak foundation,” he emphasises.

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