Ever seen an artist who breathes in beauty and breathes out brilliance? We found one in Tani Idowu! And we are in awe of the totality of her stunning personality. Her works. The truth they carry. The truth they share. All, reflecting the truth she is. We love how she uniquely combines paintings with poetry. And we love how she creates works that are both timely and timeless, one of the many resplendence that comes with being a creative genuinely connected with the Creator.
Join us on this special annual issue- The Revival!
As Tani Idowu shares a truckload of inspiration about her rather unique journey as an artist, her distinctive purpose as a creative, her walk with God, how she believes He is the greatest ICON-Artist, and everything in between.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
We see you as one stunning creative, beautiful inside out. Beyond your awe-inspiring paintings, we see the words that escort each artwork. How you share the thought process behind every work makes it more beautiful. Can you please share a glimpse of how you began your journey as a painter? And a poet.
Thank you so much. Well I began my career professionally in 2020, and after battling a lot of self-doubt and anxiety, I was able to see my potential with my eyes, help from God and support from my family. Although I must say that the journey started as early as age 7 where my love for colors and creating things from nothing began. As for poetry I’d say it’s something that began at a stage where I was generally overwhelmed with so much emotion and thoughts it needed to be expressed.
We see you share more of your paintings than your poems, would you say you’re more into one than the other?
Honestly,both painting and poetry are parts of me I love equally but each has a season of more expression. So it may seem to people that I love one more than the other but that’s actually not true. I just allow my works or poems bloom in their right season where the integrity can remain untainted and evergreen.
Can you remember the first poem you wrote, and what inspired it?
I remember all my works but there’s always something about the first right?! The poem was inspired by a conflict I had with a “frenemy’ turned best friend. We had this love hate relationship back then and I wondered how someone could hate me so much for being happy cause to be honest I was weirdly always happy and even when someone got me upset I found a way to joke about the situation or found a reason to be happy then I resolved that I was not going to let someone give room for the devil to sow bitterness and hate in me and then I penned down my very first poem titled “I love you means…” which can be summarized as a poem that encourages people to love not just because but despite.
We are grateful to have you onboard this most timely ISSUE themed: The Revival.
At Hello ICON Magazine, we believe and agree nothing can substitute the place of God in the life of every human. Beyond religion. Beyond depression and even the happy times. Beyond failure and even success. There will always be that void until one finally connects, maintains and sustains a personal relationship with God. Can you please share some highlights of how you connected with God on a personal level for the first time? And how you have maintained that relationship overtime.
I am happy to say I prayed for the opportunity to talk about God in my art community so when I got a mail about this interview I knew this was God telling me He heard me. One thing I know is that the world is very loud so one can seek God and not find Him because it’s not being done diligently. It’s not just in the consistence but it has to be in the motive and dedication. Seeking God can become a meaningless ritual for some because they have not understood that seeking Him means to deny the world.
For me, in seeking God I had to do some soul searching. I had to ask myself why I wanted to know him and that sole exercise spurred me to seek Him right. The glory of the Lord cannot be revealed to just anyone that’s why He hides Himself. So God has helped me connect with Him through His word and prayers and I have been able to sustain the encounter majorly with the help of the Holy Spirit because one can’t rely on their own strength it’ll be very easy to give up if we do. That is why with the help of the Holy Spirit, we move from a place of discipline to desire in our walk with God.
Jo Nketiah, an inspiring poet (and also one of our interviewees for this edition) made a remarkable statement about how God is not just taught, but discovered. Can you share any special tips that could help individuals better discover and connect with God?
She is so right because a second-hand knowledge of God would not do. One has to find God and have a personal revelation of who He is. It is that personal knowledge of who God is that spurs us to know Him more,seek him more and do more for Him because we want more of Him in every way. There are depths and dimensions with God so in order to discover and connect with Him, we have to first meditate on the why because it’ll help when distractions come or when people don’t understand why you are fasting for days and you’ll rather just be studying your bible than going out to see a friend or to the movies and so on. Also, it is important to know that we humans are insufficient and we cannot rely on our strength in any way so we have to rely on Him. We need to be honest with ourselves because our thoughts are so loud before Him and what is in our heart carries so much weight so we constantly need to pray for God to take away from our hearts things that would hinder our walk with him. The best tip I can give anyone is to know the Holy Spirit cause He is truly our helper and teacher . We just need to yield to Him and ask for help for any and everything at every step of the way because He is so gentle and doesn’t work with resistance. We have to totally surrender to His help and guidance.
How was growing up like?
I am the last out of 5 children and I must say growing up was an awesome experience. My siblings are way older than I am so I got to learn a lot from them and they helped me avoid some of the mistakes they made growing up. They are part of the reasons why people wonder why I’m not superficial and I’m so grateful to them. Also, my parents made sure we enjoyed our childhood from being children who kept a collection of Archie comics, to going on road trips and vacations and so on. When my parents realized I had a flare for creating they responded to it by getting me tools that could help me build myself from sketchbooks to brushes and paint and so on. They indulged all my ‘DIY projects’ even if their furniture or clothes were caught up in the process. They were super helpful and supportive and I’m so grateful I have them.
What does Art mean to you?
Art to me is many things but above all it is vulnerability and integrity. Many creatives follow trending narratives and do not stay true to the very essence of their art because they want to sell or be known so quickly and I understand the need to be “successful but what is the point of that when the integrity is lost. Now creating works for the world to see is a vulnerable act not to talk of its process, but it is that process that birthed the masterpiece that everyone would love to have or exhibit. We need to learn to embrace the beauty and ugliness of art. The works may not always have fine lines but the colors speak and the message of that work is loud enough for people to hear. Art is not always meant to be understood because it speaks to all in different ways. So people need to embrace all aspects of art.
You once shared a post on how naming each work for an artist can be ‘a thing.’ What would you say helps you better with naming your artworks?
When it comes to naming my works, it is the marriage of the message,the process and the work. It isn’t just about a fancy name cause easy and simple does it sometimes but in other moments there is a depth of emotion that cannot be simplified or put in mere words. What helps me is staying true to all the elements that were involved in birthing that piece.
I recall naming one of my works “The Gregor Clegane”not because I wanted to be complicated but I honestly knew I’d be doing the piece a disservice if I had just named it “the mountain” so I decided to be poetic about it and I’m glad I stayed true to myself.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
I believe most people in developed countries have an awareness and deeper appreciation for art, because they understand that the works are more than just aesthetics and that is why they value it so much. This I believe is what a lot of people in developing countries need to learn. We all need to appreciate creatives and value their art for what it is worth not devalue it by putting just any price to it because it is only the aesthetics we see and we can’t appreciate the work as we ought to. Also, I believe creatives in developed countries have access to affordable tools and materials and this is something that should be addressed better in developing countries.
Creatives have been described as ones with the ability to feel things deeply. Living in a world full of so much chaos and uncertainties can no doubt be ‘a lot.’ In between all, we are grateful for creatives like you whose words shine a light in dark places(in the lives of people)
Do you have quick tips for other creatives out there afraid to use their Art for just purposes. Perhaps unsure of what people may think. Or probably struggling with self doubt?
Thank you so much. Finding the purpose your art or talent is for is not an easy task but every creative process is also an act of self-discovery that is why I emphasize the beauty of a process. You learn new techniques and improve on old ones, you learn virtues like patience and so much more. The process cannot be rushed or brushed over. I believe my message to every creative struggling with finding purpose and self doubt is to seek progress over perfection; cause it is in growth that we attain perfection. Take your time, enjoy every phase you are in and never stop learning or being curious. Your works are are a reflection of you,not others. So seek validation from God because it is Him who gave you the idea that is to be expressed through whatever medium and what you think matters most because it is you who has the skill to express it the way you would but never stop learning or honing your skills.
Your work ‘The Hills of Yearning’ also came with some powerful words by you, as always. Can you share more on the inspiration behind this work?
I believe what inspired the words behind “The Hills of yearning” is the realization that life is a journey of self-discovery not a race. It is the false knowledge that it is a race that breeds fear,jealousy, anger and questioning God but the realization that life is a hill of constant yearning is what helps us understand and accept the knowledge that it is okay to be afraid or fail but what we learn from that experience and how we use it to be better is what is most important. We would also understand that it is okay to not know what next and enjoy each phase of life and trust the direction God is leading us not wanting to jump our growth process because people, or our friends are way ahead of us. We would understand that in life there are ‘Davids” and there are “Josephs” we would achieve success eventually but the timing, challenges and the journey is what truly differs. Every setback, only leads to a greater success story.
We all have that unique story of finding a light at the end of various tunnels of our lives. Those moments when it feels like our backs are against the wall. But we believe one thing remains constant in the end- the undying and never failing love of God. What we like to describe as the one true source of strength, joy and fulfillment. Can you please share some glimpses of any moment like this for you? The challenge and how God came through for you.
There were a Iot of times I got so lost in thought and I was not motivated to create and I reached a certain level of tired that sleep could not fix. I knew at that point I needed a break and I needed to draw from Him. It was not a time to ask what was wrong because I knew the reason why that fatigue was there was because there was an inner conflict of ideas and one needed to step down for the other. I asked for help from the Holy Spirit and I asked God what He would have me do or work on and then I followed the leading. The clarity and the peace that followed was that light at the end of the tunnel then I picked up my brush to work again.
We understand how balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please can you share a few tips on how you try to balance work time and rest time?
I believe in balance so much because it also helps with my creation process. One has to put a structure in place and that comes with studying one’s self. You have to know what works for you at every phase. There was a time I preferred creating in the night time because of a particular series i was working on at the time so I’d use my daytime to research, play and rest and while others are asleep, I’m in my studio. I also have a time for family where we go on vacation and spend time together. We create new memories and in the process I get inspiration and content for my works so it’s a win-win for me. If balance was not in play I’d miss out on a whole lot and i would hate to get to a point in my life and regret not doing some things because I didn’t have a structure in place.
What would you consider most fulfilling about being an artist?
The most fulfilling thing about being an artist is seeing my art through the eyes of others. The comments and messages I have received from people have encouraged me to create more. It’s uplifting to know that your works are healing or inspiring someone going through something you didn’t even know about and that gives me encouragement to do more.
If you could do a collab as a painter or as a poet with any other artist, what art would that be?
There are a lot of artists I admire and I am very open to working with artists of the same value and style of art like myself. I would love to work with the likes of Frank Bowling, Julie Mehretu among many others.
Who are your ‘ICONS’ in the Creative Industry?
God is the greatest Icon and artist but I would say Mama Nike Davies- Okundaye, Victor Ehikhamenor, Julie Mehretu, Cheri Samba, Zhuang Hong-yi,Frank and Rachael Bowling among many others are people I admire so much.
What does success mean to you?
Success in the art community is not just in the sales or exhibition but in the various ways my message encourages and reaches people in the process of viewing my works. That for me is success and it means a whole lot to me.However, success in life, is ticking all the boxes in God’s marking scheme, making Him happy by being a true ambassador and child in the art community and doing His will.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?
Let’s see… I’ll go with the color yellow because it speaks warmth,friendship and it shines bright like the sun it cannot be dimmed. I am the light of the world and a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. My light would shine bright before all men.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Tani Idowu.
I am a girl who loves to travel and tour. I am a linguist, I enjoy k-drama, and I love using my chopsticks.
Massive Love Tani!
The ICONIC Team