Nigerian Charcoal Artist Joshua Osariemen Akugbe Shares His Journey as an Artist & His Creative Process
Joshua Osariemen Akugbe, also known as @jjosh_artz on Instagram, is a 23-year-old artist based in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
“I’ve been drawing since I was little. I found myself drawing on my school books and any scrap of paper that I could find. I can say I’ve been drawing since birth.”
He primarily renders his portraits with charcoal, occasionally incorporating other media like pen and sometimes pencil.
“I’ve been disabled from birth, which positively and negatively influences my work. Negatively, because I can’t work for long hours, the maximum I can do is four hours, and if I push it past that, I might get sick. I also can’t walk long distances to get quality tools for work, so I’m limited to what’s here.
On the flip side, I am grateful to God even if I’m like this because if things were different, I don’t know if I’d be able to draw this well. My talent amazes people, and most of my early commissions were from people who believed in me and didn’t want me to stop doing what I love,” said Akugbe.
His stunningly realistic drawings capture the essence of his subjects, from the textures of their fabrics to the luminous quality of their faces.
“It’s a labour of love, but on most occasions, it can take a day or two before I complete one piece. I draw because I love to, plus it takes my mind off a lot of things. Even if I wasn’t making money out of it, I’d still do it because it’s a part of me. I’m addicted to it. Sometimes I realize my hands are moving at night when I’m sleeping. It amazes me that I can do this thing that many able-bodied people cannot do.”
Akugbe works out of his home studio, but his art can be seen on his Instagram handle, JJosh_Artz. He also shares his techniques and expertise with apprentices.
“My fee depends on the size of the piece, but on average, my charges per piece of work are around 30,000 naira (US$60).”
As for plans, Akugbe hopes to open a gallery to increase the visibility of his work and even auction some of his pieces.
“I want my art to be known all over the world. So that when anyone sees my signature, the person will say, “Wow, I know this artist.’ I realise in life things don’t usually go as planned, but by God’s grace I see myself and these plans working out,” said Akugbe.
Photo/Story Credit: Bright Emwanta Igbinomwanhia for bird story agency