Threads of Tradition, Strokes of Innovation: Unraveling the Artistic Mastery of Onome Otite

Jewellery Trend Interviews Mixed Media Artist Onome Otite

In the world of art, where creativity and culture intertwine, there are artists who bridge the gap between tradition and innovation, offering us new perspectives and unique creations. One such talented artist is Onome Otite, a visionary mixed media artist whose works embody the rich tapestry of cultural heritage. Through a captivating fusion of traditional techniques and contemporary expressions, Onome’s art captivates and challenges viewers, inviting them on a journey of exploration and discovery. 

In this interview piece, we delve into the fascinating world of Onome Otite and explore the intricacies of her creative process through her unique mixed media approach, she seamlessly blends elements of painting, sculpture, digital media, and found objects, giving birth to visually striking compositions that challenge preconceived notions of art.


Can you tell us about your artistic background and how you got started in mixed media?

Art and design has always been a subject I enjoyed throughout my education.
However, it wasn’t until the late 2010s that I began to experiment with textiles and
mixed materials to create figurative artworks. I liked the process and so continued to dedicate more time learning new handcraft techniques.
Jewellery Trend Interviews Mixed Media Artist Onome Otite
.I had my first exhibition in 2015 at Service Point Print Studio in Covent Garden, London. After much interest from visitors in purchasing my artwork, I was encouraged to apply for The Prince’s Trust Business Enterprise Programme to learn about running a business and explore my options as a self-employed artist.
Since then, I have built my profile exhibiting and selling in specialised art and craft markets in the UK.
I have also reached an international audience through art residencies, collaboration projects and exhibitions .It’s been a very exciting experience!

What inspired you to incorporate African fabric into your installations and art portraits?

Using Ankara textiles and recycled materials helps to weave a cultural narrative into my work. Traditionally the colours, patterns and symbols of the fabric design suggest stories and emotion. I like to experiment with collage and create various  textural combinations with the fabrics. 
The manipulation of pattern and the prints vibrancy also adds to the celebratory mood of the artwork. Furthermore, the importance of colour and pattern has introduced artists’ talks and textile workshops to my practise - exploring the versatility of collage to tell stories and communicate ideas.
Jewellery Trend Interviews Mixed Media Artist Onome Otite

Can you walk us through your creative process, from concept to finished piece?

Once I decide on the overall theme of the artwork or am given a brief, I will see what materials I have that reflect that concept. Playing particular attention to colours, patterns, and symbols. During this process I’ll also carry out research, by looking at books, magazines, photographs and asking questions, because there is always a story to tell.
Jewellery Trend Interviews Mixed Media Artist Onome Otite

I will then sketch my ideas and designs. In the past I have attended life-drawing
classes to practice drawing the human form. To familiarise myself with the body in
motion I also enjoying watching dance performances, be that at an arts center or
social gathering.

The forming of shapes is the organic part of my process and depends on the type of material being used. Thick materials produce a sculptural effect when moulded and so extensive research goes into sculpture and three-dimensional art, whilst softer materials are malleable and easy to manipulate. I create folds and pleating details to suggest movement and flow.

How do you decide which materials to use for each project?

My work is a celebration of life, energy, happiness, and joy, which is why the figures are animated, with limbs open and I choose materials that enhance this. Naturally I’m drawn to bright colours, bold shapes, and patterns as this is what I know to joy to be growing up in a Nigerian household. Orange is also one of my favourite colours and so it features frequently in my work. I can use a mixture of orange tones and textures in any one piece because it brings dynamism to my work.  
Jewellery Trend Interviews Mixed Media Artist Onome Otite

What message or themes do you hope to convey through your art?

Drawing from my Nigerian heritage, I am influenced by women who use traditional
clothing as a means of empowerment and to celebrate their womanhood. I use my work to tell stories and introduce new narratives of West African culture and

As a black artist, how do you think your work contributes to the larger conversation about representation and diversity in the art world?

I think the fact that I’m making work and putting it out there – irrespective of the
topic, contributes to the larger conversation about representation and diversity in
the art world. However, I think the bigger conversation to have is why black artists
have that added pressure in the first place. Instead of making from a place of pure
enjoyment, we are conscious as to whether the work being produced is ‘black
enough’ or represents ‘diversity’ which I think is part of the problem and I’ll always
advocate for this.

Do you feel that there is enough representation and support for black artists in the art world? If not, what changes would you like to see?

I think we are at a time where many black artists are making a name for themselves and not waiting for a particular organisation or person to make things happen. Instead, they are creating opportunities for themselves and therefore we are much more on the scene than ever before and it’s so exciting to see and be part of that. In terms of change’s, I’d like to see more of this – self-confidence and perseverance because it’s a lot of work!

What advice would you give to aspiring black artists who are just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to switch things up whether that’s a new technique, different themes or maybe a new direction altogether! We are not linear as a people, and I encourage you to experience all that you can – it’s an amazing field to be in.

Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions that our readers should know about? And how can we get in touch with you to learn more about your work?

My focus this year has been to work on private art commissions and work within the community to produce art workshop programmes. My current role as a creative consultant at the Welcome Collection in Euston, London continues this focus. I create workshop programmes to celebrate and bring awareness to different cultures and provide a space for people to find their creative side, de-stress and have a positive focus on their well-being.
You can keep up to date with my work developments via my website and Instagram/Facebook page

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