There’s detailed and then there’s hyper-realistic. Mayor Olajide’s drawings, which are made entirely of charcoal, fall into the latter category.
In each masterpiece, you can see every minute detail — even the fine hairs on people’s skin that we don’t even realize are there most of the time. But they are, and Mayor knows how to capture them!
The 17-year-old is a student at The Polytechnic in Ibadan, Nigeria, where he studies architecture as drawing is just a hobby for him. The artistic pursuit began when he was just 5 years old and still sketching with pencils and crayons. By the time he was 15, his work was so good that he started selling his pieces and taking commissions to boost his family’s income.
This was around the same time that Mayor’s style changed. He came across the work of painter Arinze Stanley, a fellow Nigerian artist who specializes in hyper-realism.
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“His self-portrait, the one with water on his face, that was the one that inspired me the most,” he explained. “Kelvin Okafor and Ken Nwadiogbu, they also inspired me.”
The hyper-realism movement swept the Nigerian art scene in 2010. A decade later, the style is earning Mayor his first taste of social media fame.
His Instagram following has grown by the thousands since a Twitter post featuring his work went viral, yet despite all the positive attention, he’s not inclined to think of himself as only an artist. He plans to finish his education in architecture, and after that, who knows?
“I draw anytime I’m in the mood. I don’t have a specific time, even in the night I draw,” he said, adding that it’s “something I do when I’m less busy, after school, during break time. A hobby.”
Each of Mayor’s pieces takes one or two days to create, depending on the size. The largest work he’s ever done is a portrait of soccer star Lionel Messi, which took him three months to finish.
He draws using a photograph as a guide, which helps him nail each individual feature. While he uses art as a fun way to earn money with commissions, he’s hoping to eventually use his talents to hold a mirror up to reflect society.
“I want people out there to feel how talented Nigerian artists are,” he explained. “Just for them to appreciate art in general in Nigeria. To raise our culture.”
The detail of these charcoal drawings is extraordinary! He may not think the art world is his destiny, but we would hate to see such a remarkable talent go unused!
Get an up close look at Mayor’s work in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.
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