A better artist and a better human - Eli Waduba

Drawings that look exactly like photographs. They teem with so much life that they compete with real photographs. This is what people have to say about the drawings by Eli Waduba, the hyperrealism artist from Nigeria. The story of Eli Waduba speaks volumes about his journey of perseverance, patience, and profound passion for art. Eli’s love for art began in his early childhood. Soon after he finished his secondary school education, he decided to pursue art as a career. The challenges were many, which included the opposition from his father who firmly believed that Eli wouldn’t be able to make a living out of art. Eli’s father wanted him to take up a rewarding career to secure his future. Finance was yet another challenge, and the lack of support from his family stood as a barrier in his journey as an artist. Living in a country where artists were not valued enough added to make his journey a bumpy one. But Eli’s love and passion for art had no bounds, and he went ahead with zest and zeal to make a mark through his art. Soon enough, his efforts started paying off and his father started realizing the value of art, a year before he passed away.

Eli Waduba’s story is a testimony to how important practice is and the wonders it can work for an artist. Eli who hasn’t received any formal training is a self-taught artist. Behind his awe-inspiring drawings lie years of relentless practice that he has been religiously following to master the art. He says that there were many things about art that he was ignorant about which he later discovered while practicing. He strongly believes that for every artist, practice is of paramount importance as it can enlighten them in unique and unpredictable ways every new day. Eli started drawing with graphite pencils, as he hardly knew about charcoal pencils. He accidentally discovered charcoal pencils when he went to buy his art materials. He then researched more about them and went through charcoal paintings by a few artists, only to realize that charcoal pencils added more perfection to the drawings. He closely observed how artists applied charcoal in their art and taught himself to follow the same. Eli even improvises a tad bit by using make-up brushes to blend the charcoal before using it in his drawings.

Talking about his personal challenges as an artist, he says that there are times when he gets frustrated while creating an art piece when it takes too long to finish. Like every other artist, he goes through phases of creative blocks. He tries to fix it by calming down and letting it be. To break the block, he tries something different by working on an entirely different piece, mostly drawings of celebrities. That way, he tries to break himself from the shackles of creative blocks and pushes himself to come out with ease. Another hardest challenge he faced was the ban of Twitter in Nigeria. Twitter was a major platform that helped his work get recognized and the unfortunate ban was highly unfavorable for Eli in terms of getting new clients and connecting with the existing client base.

Eli Waduba recounts that the best part of his life happened in February 2019, when the art piece he drew for Kevin Hart, the American Comedian, stole the attention of the world. He had never done an international piece for anyone till then, and this turned out to be a massive turning point in his life. Kevin Hart purchased the piece from Eli, and this opened up a multitude of opportunities for him. Soon, he was mentioned in Steve Harvey’s show and received an incredible amount of press coverage in channels like Goodmorning America and CGTN Africa. Now, he has clients around the globe, and Eli is continuing to climb his stairs to success and fame.

Eli has an entirely different perspective on success. He believes that even if you do not possess all the riches in the world, if you can do better than yesterday and are able to impact peoples’ lives, you are successful. That being said, Eli not only aspires to be a great artist but a great human being too. He takes initiative in training children from his home as well as local orphanages so that they can develop a skill and have a purpose in life. He helps the less privileged to be trained to perfection so that they can become better versions of themselves. He believes that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and people tend to think about committing crimes when they have nothing else to keep them productive. Indulging oneself in art and trying to become better at it can help people contribute to society while also evolving into better human beings. He is currently training many young people and they create amazing art now, that people often mistake their art for Eli’s work. Eli is proud about the same and looks forward to creating a generation of artists trained by him.

Eli strives to improve himself every day. There was a time he decided to give up drawing when he happened to come across the works by a famous artist. They were incredibly realistic that he felt he wouldn’t be able to match up to that level of quality and hyperrealism ever. But he later happened to listen to a message which said “Do not worry about people who do better than you. You are not entering into a competition with anyone, but yourself. Make sure what you do today is better than what you did yesterday”. This message motivated him to take up the challenge of making what he does today way better than yesterday, and a little less than tomorrow.

As an artist, Eli Waduba has come a long way and his biggest dream is to open up his own gallery. He also looks forward to a day when his work will be displayed at the American Museum and other significant museums around the world. He advises aspiring artists to never give up, but keep pushing no matter how difficult it is. There will always be challenges in the way, but keep pushing forward and the light at the end of the tunnel will be visible one day. Eli Waduba is an inspiration to all the aspiring artists out there to not just evolve into better artists, but into better human beings as well!

You can reach out to Eli Waduba on his Instagram handle @eli_waduba4real

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