Oluwatobiloba Sewoniku, also known as SOA, is an Art Entrepreneur, the founder of SOA’s World, art and culture based company that deals with production, collection and supply of artworks.
On how he started, he had a lot to say. “Having gained admission into the University of Ibadan to study Anthropology (biological) in the year 2013, there was a need for me to do something outside academic and such thing must add value to my life. While thinking of something to do, I was fortunate to attend an Art Exhibition on campus organized by some set of students. Indeed, it was a crowd-pulling exhibition where artworks were sold on auction.”
“This motivated me to build on my art skill so as to be able to do something similar in future. My strong determination to be a boss in the making of artworks made me dedicate a lot of time practicing. I drew people for free and in rare occasions, I get compensated. As time went by, I gained mastery in the use of art materials and people started appreciating my works more and more.”
“This then made me to monetize my artworks as people began to really demand, and that was the beginning of SOA’s World. Based on the reason that I have wide knowledge in art (that is, I know the materials they are made of, how they are produced, their value and worth), I added collection of artworks from other artist to what I do.That was basically how I started.”
He noted that he has encountered a number of challenges. When I initially and before gaining mastery of my art, it affected the outcome of the art, especially as it concerns portraits. Also, getting recognition was quite a challenge. Now, the challenges I face are non-availability of some art supplies needed in the local art stores. Shipping from other countries is much more expensive considering shipping fee (which sometimes cost more than half the price of the art material itself) and other duties paid on a single item.Being a student, merging academic workload with business (production of artworks consume time) was a difficult task. Also, low patronage and haggling price to a very low amount became a serious issue because I was operating from a University community.”
The art entrepreneur draws inspiration from people; successful life story of people and their brands.
He mentioned a recent activity that made him believe in himself. “Recently, the activity I engaged in that made me believe in myself was empowering some set of people with art skill to a level that it now puts money in their pockets, without asking them to pay a dime. Adding this value to their lives of others gave me confidence that I’m on the right path.”
Looking forward, “the opportunity I’m looking for is to engage in prominent Art Exhibition in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. I believe SPARK can ignite such opportunity.”
Tobi also gave his opinion on youth empowerment. “It’s actually very important for youths to be empowered in this fast changing world and also where a lot of people studied same courseas you did in the tertiary institution. I personally believe everyone was born to impact lives and one who fails to add value to him/herself cannot influence other people’s lives positively. Life is about adding value and one who has failed to add value to him/herself will not be reckoned with in life. By value adding, I mean youths should acquire right knowledge that can empower them for a lifetime and as well make them useful to their society.”
“Empowerment without self-discovery is nothing; this is because such person will not make use of such opportunity effectively. Self-discovery brings what is called passion and passion is what is needed to be successful when one is empowered. After self-discovery, a friendly youth platform should be provided both online and offline to support Nigerian youths with the type of empowerment needed (needed skills, startup capital or mentorship).
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