Ehigie: Nigerian apparel designer based in London.

Ehigie Interview

[WRT]: First off, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

[EHIGIE]: I am Ehigie Aigiomawu and I was born in Enfield, England on the 29th of March 1980. After a couple of years of living in the UK, my Parents relocated to Nigeria on a permanent basis as they had been in England for a reasonable amount of time and sought earnestly to return home. This accorded me the opportunity to be schooled in the cultural/moral values that is ever present in the tradition we uphold and have been blessed with in Nigeria.

I attended nursery and primary school in Ajaokuta, located in the then Kwara State, as My Father worked with the Ajaokuta Steel Company. We later relocated to Lagos in 1989 which was where I completed my primary school education and went on to attend Apata Memorial High School, but I completed the rest of my secondary school education in Edo State (Word of Faith Secondary School to be precise). After my secondary school education, I settled for a diploma in Accountancy at the Edo State University now known as the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma. I switched lanes later, upon gaining admission to University Of Benin to study Fine and Applied Arts, graduating as a qualified Graphic artist in 2004.

[WRT]: What are your thoughts on the creative atmosphere that surrounds you, as a Nigerian schooled artist, resident in London – what role/influence does your environment and local culture reflect in your work?

[EHIGIE]: As an African, culture plays an integral role in influencing styles, techniques and themes upon which art pieces are based. Being culturally diverse also aids in broadening the artist’ perspective. For the last 5yrs I have been a spectator/participator in the graffiti art movement in London and it is interesting to note that this sub-sect of pop culture has evolved into one of the biggest movements/cultures of our present day. Now, being able to fuse colors, symbols and/or known words/phrases/slangs commonly recognized and attributed to being Nigerian with the graffiti style/technique further emphasizes the essence of cultural diversity and its glaring influence.

[WRT]: What inspires you as a creative person?

[EHIGIE]: People, culture, philosophy and experiences in life. Life and its unfathomed mysteries that keep us yearning for what tomorrow has to offer.

[WRT]: Are your inspirations directly represented in your artwork, or do they simply manifest themselves as a creative mood?

[EHIGIE]: I’d say a bit of both comes into play. While a majority of designs created spontaneously mirror my thoughts and visions, certain designs go through a thoroughly planned process with the intent of passing across a message.

 

[WRT]: What do you want to achieve as an artist?

[EHIGIE]: For the world to share my visions and my dreams. And for the those dreams to have a positive effect on peoples lives. Sounds a bit ambiguous, but I wouldn’t want anything less than that.

[WRT]: What is your creative process like? From when you wake up to when you sleep?

[EHIGIE]: It’s very straightforward. Wake up, give thanks to the ONE, freshen up, get to work. There are days I don’t have meals, just me feeding on biscuits and energy drinks and depending on how enormous the project is I can be up for nights without end until the project in question is complete.

[WRT]: What are your tools of the trade?

[EHIGIE]: Sketchpad, paintbrushes, colored pigments, the computer, graphic software (Adobe Photoshop CS3 for me) and a digicam.

[WRT]: It’s strange that while a lot of artists are dumping the traditional media for the digital art form, you are deeply rooted in the traditional form; why didn’t you join the crowd?

[EHIGIE]: A man can never neglect his past even if he has to move/evolve with time and that is why I still cling to my paintbrush. That does not, in any way, mean I am less proficient when it comes to utilizing graphic software and creating computer generated images. For me, it’s a direct way of keeping in touch with that which man has been blessed with (talent). A lot of artists rely fully on computer tools their draughtsman ship abilities suffer. Anyone can utilize these programs after careful study, to create any effect (artist or non artist). With computer programs, it’s much easier to create textures, manipulate images, and prepare for the mass market within short periods of time but that can’t rival the originality of a hand painted masterpiece! I don’t want to believe it can or will.

[WRT]: When doing client work, how do you strike the balance between what “they” want and what you see as the end product?

[EHIGIE]: When handling a client’s account, it’s highly imperative to research the client. Putting the client’s suggestions into perspective, the client’s project is then embarked upon. Personally, I also work on other ideas I believe will “WOW” my clients over and when given the opportunity, I present alternatives that they can choose from and if they like my ideas, then that’s that.

 

[WRT]: What got you into the apparel venture?

[EHIGIE]: This has been a lifelong aspiration. From a young age, I’ve been very fascinated by the idea of creating sketches of outfits first for super heroes in my pre-teens, to sketching characters sporting jerseys with logos and baggies in my teenage years; when everyone got carried away with the baggy pants by Karl Kani and the very eccentric graffiti-based style introduced by Marc Ecko. Visions of wearing my own outfits and of people donning my creations led me down this path.

[WRT]: What are your hobbies and interests?

[EHIGIE]: I spend my free time listening to music, playing video games (this has a very strong influence on my creative process as some these videogames possess strong graphic elements).

[WRT]: Elevated Mindz? What influenced that name?

[EHIGIE]: Elevated Mindz was borne out of anger against a system, which seemed (and still seems) to limit individual artistic abilities in Nigeria’s educational system. During my period in University, lecturers within the Fine Art department would breathe down our necks, giving no room to fully express ourselves but demand crap from us; like puppets on a string we followed every command. This in my view defeated the whole intention of Art, which simply is that “Art is a form of self expression”.

Elevated Mindz is also borne out of rebellion against a system that often undermines the achievements of Black individuals and personal experiences of being treated with disdain on so many levels.

These and the thought of utilizing my artistic abilities to present my dreams on a platter for the world to feast on; Elevated Mindz as a collective is a fresh-thinking fashion outfit aimed at mirroring today’s contemporary lifestyle in which thinking outside the box and celebrating individuality are of the essence. Boasting a collection of designs, the fusion of Art and Fashion, each item is constructed with a distinct level of care and integrity, resulting in premium quality art garments.


[WRT]: What kind of music do you listen to?

[EHIGIE]: I am eclectic in nature although I spend more time listening to Hip-hop, Soul/Neo-soul, and Rock.

[WRT]: If I want to buy your tee shirt, art or commission you for art gig. How can I do that?

[EHIGIE]: I can be reached directly by email at:

ELEVTDMNDZ@HOTMAIL.COM or by phone on +447944210971

I can also be reached via my Facebook and my-space pages:

i.e. ELEVTD MNDZ BY EHJ for the Facebook,

www.myspace.com/elevtdmndz for the Myspace page.

[WRT]: How about people resident in Nigeria, how and where can they order your products?

[EHIGIE]: They should contact

AB Douglas via:

Telephone number: 08037266893

E-mail: DOUGLASAB2001@YAHOO.COM

or

OBEHI AIGIOMAWU on:

08023172140

08080200705.

[WRT]: Any plans down the road for a Website?

[EHIGIE]: The website will be out soon. I can only hope that people will exercise a little more patience and I thank them for all the appreciation and love.

[WRT]: Do you plan to open up shop in Nigeria anytime soon?

[EHIGIE]: That will definitely come, but will take some time.

[WRT]: Any words of inspiration to aspiring artists out there?

[EHIGIE]: Believe and you will achieve! Constantly think positive no matter the circumstance. Consistency pays.

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