BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
NOTHING gladdens the heart of an artist more than being allowed to roam the creative field. This creative freedom dominated the thoughts of ex-ad man, Wande George, as he glossed over the new page of his career, recently.
George had put in about 20 years in advertising until he quit last year and was actually preparing for what would be his first major avenue for a wider expression in decades — a joint show with fellow ad man, Kola Arifajogun—when he chatted with this writer.
Like every artist who had worked as a visualiser or creative personnel in advertising agencies, George felt so relieved that, at last, he was doing his own job, in his own way.
Though full time studio artists have always considered ad jobs as less challenging, and in fact, an escape route for a less creative mind, George, however, holds a contrary opinion.
|Wande George'sMona Lisa|
He says the volume of work an artist does in the ad studios is not lesser than that of an independent artist. “It’s even more,” he argues.
According to him, in advertising, it could be very frustrating “working on a brief over and over because somebody felt he has a better idea, but at the end of the day, your own concept is still reverted to.”
George, however, says, despite his confinement, he never wandered away from mainstream art. “My passion for painting was intact, and I have participated in some exhibitions, but not as fulfilling as coming out fully.”
He says, “I have been painting and experimenting consistently, which has resulted in the uniqueness of style and the depth of thinking.”
WHATEVER the perceived disadvantage there exists for an artist in the ad studio, there seems to be some gains, particularly in weaving concepts into images. This much appears well articulated in George’s work.
Indeed, one of the areas, which his art could earn him a greater respect, is the philosophy on which he builds his themes.
In the visual arts scene where an artist’s depth of intellectual knowledge counts, George’s concept has stronger leverage. He explains that The Exit represents transiting from one state of life to another, which could be physical or emotional, “loss of jobs, relationships, possession, or loved ones to the cold hands of death.”
And in case of death, “such exit usually has a lasting impact on those left behind, sometime physically, psychologically, emotionally and otherwise.”
Also, in his style, there appears to be something strong enough from which to take a leap. For example, if stylised images such as Giant Strides and The Exit are sustained, the artist, who looks more like a movie star, already has an identity or trait that will tell him apart.
GEORGE graduated from Auchi Polytechnic in 1987 with an HND in Painting and General Art. He did his national service at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, where he was an Art Instructor (1987-88). He worked briefly as a studio artist before joining Daily Times of Nigeria in 1989.
He moved to the advertising industry as illustrator and creative art director. He exited the industry last year to focus on his first love —painting. In addition to being a member of Society Of Nigerian Artists (SNA), he is an APCON-certified practitioner.