When you’ve been to literally every gallery across the city of Lagos, the recently launched Studio by Modé Aderinokun would serve as a pleasant surprise since she treads on a different path to give us something we didn’t even realize was missing. A space that connects us to tradition as well as art.
Her gallery was built to be something more, drawn heavily on her Nigerian origin in fusion with her experiences from travelling and living in the west.
Modé, pronounced “moh-day”, has her hands in a lot of things, which started from studying animation to art illustrating , writing and then making comics. All of which is tied to one cause; creation. Whether it is the common yet miraculous creation of a baby, or the production of a staple food like Gala, she believes that in order to attain fulfilment, one must create something that enriches the lives of others.
Launching a gallery is a tremendous achievement, and it is evident you put a lot of hard work and planning into this. Can you share how the idea was realized from inception to execution?
Modé: I collaborated with an architect. First we created something white and normal, but I realized I needed something that was Nigerian. My ethos is to create stuff, which means to create something new that pushes boundaries. So I started questioning: “If we had to create a Nigerian space, what would it be like?”. That was the standard I wanted to take on it, and that was how we came up with this space of Lagos blended with Abeokuta.
How long have you been planning this?
Modé: Its been a year plus.
Did you initially have doubts as to how people would receive an art space that was different from what they are conversant with?
Modé: Hmmm. Well till today, I’m still doubting
But what has the response been like?
Modé: Its been very good, people find it interesting.
On the interior design, How much difficulty did you encounter trying to interpret your ideas to people you had to work with?
Modé: It was very frustrating getting things done properly and stating how important it was to do things properly. So at every step I had to keep pushing. But most of it had to be done by me because some people didn’t understand and I had to take things into my own hands.
Most of your earlier illustrations were transformed into skins and cases for mobile devices, how did you come up with the idea?
Modé: Again, I think it’s part of my ethos of creating something new. And I’m not saying that nobody has art on cases, but my belief was that art wasn’t integrated much into society and I wanted that to happen. I wanted people to connect more with art and have something asides art on walls.
Did you see it as a means to diversify art or was the plan based on sustaining yourself as an artist?
Modé: It was the first one, and then the second came after because I wasn’t really thinking of money. I was thinking more of how people can connect to art better and easier. Like how everyone is connected to music just by listening to it, so why can’t art be like that as well?.
You mentioned wanting to connect people to art, asides it being mobile, have you thought to venture into putting your art on shirts or clothes?
Modé: Because shirts have already been done, and I don’t think it’s that much sustainable, I do shirts for just my comic JAND. But if I want my art to be on shirts or clothes, I would like it to be different, to stand out, and to do more than just print on shirts. That’s why I like the idea of phones because people take them everywhere, so they have a relationship with it. I’ve had people come to me and say “It’s just a part of me.“, Clothes won’t do that much.
There’s been mention of the art store, would it serve as a retail point for just your art or you’re planning something bigger?
Modé: Probably, I’m going to have other people, but its going to be very selective. It has to do what my art is doing. I think my art is making you question standard ideals.
Are there any artists you have in mind that fit in?
Mode: Karo Akpokiere, I’ve collaborated with him before. Then Toyosi Faridah Kekere-Ekun, off the top of my head. The thing is, I’m not just thinking about art, it can be anything that just triggers your mind. There are so many things that can happen, even comics.
Speaking of comics, what inspired that idea for JAND?
Modé: Everything underlining these things are stories, I love stories. Stories are the central part of my passion. The idea came about when I wasn’t trying not to watch TV, so I discovered web comics and got into them. There was this one particularly, it’s called questionablecontent.com , and it was just everyday life, regular people living their lives and going through different things.. it kind of reminded me of Archie. And i was like oh, there should be a Nigerian one. I can draw, I like stories, and characters, so why don’t I do that? I thought it was going to be a small project, but it became this huge thing.
So how do you keep up with releasing new comic strips every week?
Modé: Hahaha. Well, I just work every time .
Seeing as people haven’t always been very receptive to art, mind telling us how you kept your head in the game? What kept you motivated?.
Modé: It was my family honestly, they were very supportive. Art is something I kind of fell upon, and I hadn’t always known that I would end up here, but I knew I wanted to do something individualistic, creative and work for myself. I think in a very different way and I knew I couldn’t handle a 9-5, and have someone telling me what to do.
So you’ve never worked 9-5?
Modé: Pretty much… Well, I’ve done it, but in a very shady way. Haha!
That’s odd because most artist usually have to start with a 9-5 so as to sustain themselves. How were you able to manage regardless?
Modé: After getting out of school and completing NYSC, I just went into it and kept doing and doing. And yeah, it paid off.
Do you have any word of advice to aspiring artists?
Modé: Haha, I hate this question, because I’m learning too. But I just think it’s about working hard, and you really really have to believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, no one else will.