Colors of Empowerment: A Conversation with the Phenomenal Morenike (Renike) Olusanya

Jul 22, 2023

Step into the enchanting world of Renike, the multi-talented artist whose brush strokes paint a vivid canvas of empowerment and representation.

An acclaimed visual and book cover artist, Renike’s captivating creations challenge norms and showcase the beauty of black women in a refreshing light.

But her art is more than just aesthetics; it’s a heartfelt journey, a safe space, and a medium for change.

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with the award-winning artist as she opens up about her artistic process and journey, the impact that A.I will have on the art industry and everything in between.

Let’s dive right in!

Our questions are in bold text.

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Renike down in Morocco living her best life doing tourist things. Photo Credit: Renike

First of all, we are absolutely honoured to have you as our first spotlight artist! You are doing the damn thing!

So to kickoff, let’s talk about balance. How are you able to navigate the balance between creating art for personal expression versus creating art with a specific social or political message?

Thank you, I’m flattered!

So I’ve generally always created for myself or based on my personal experiences, except when commissioned to create.

Because of this, it’s not a tough area to navigate because I just do what I feel, at specific periods of time.

I know that I’ve never really wanted to create art with a political message because my art serves somewhat as an escape for me.

Creating based on what I’m trying to escape from is ironic.

Social messages, yes. But only from time to time.

It’s totally admirable how you’ve chosen your path and are sticking to creating art that genuinely brings you joy! Speaking of which, what kind of art would you say speaks to your core as an artist?

I connect with any and everything.

I’m not picky about the type of art I admire when I’m a spectator or part of an audience.

I’m appreciative of all mediums and whatever speaks to me, speaks to me.

I’ve found myself falling in love with oil paints, digital paintings and even photographs.

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She Will Not Be Silent, 2020 by Renike Olusanya. Photo Credit: Renike Olusanya

“Whatever speaks to me, speaks to me” – love it!

So let’s talk a bit about your career and time travel, shall we?

If you could go back in time and change something you’ve done over the years in your art career, what would that be and why?

Maybe I’d have started sharing my art with the world earlier.

I shied away from it for a while before I started posting them on social media because I was scared of criticism.

My journey since I’ve started has been a blessing to me and my career and I can’t help but think that I’d have gotten more blessed by it if I started earlier. That’s me being part selfish.

Nonetheless, I am grateful for my journey and everything that has come with it and can’t wait to experience more!

That’s inspiring, Renike. Especially for other Creatives out there who find themselves shying away from sharing their art with the world. There will always be critics, but the love will ALWAYS outweigh the criticism!

We’d love to know – what memorable experience have you had over the years that influenced your journey as an artist?

I’ve had a lot!

My first book cover commission threw me into this journey of creating book covers that I never knew I was going to take seriously.

Huge shout out to Shoola Oyindamola for being the first author to look at me and think I’d be able to get the job done.

It exposed me to a whole new world of telling other people’s stories through my artwork and illustrations.

I thoroughly enjoy it and I don’t think I’d have realised this in time if I wasn’t approached for that purpose.

The Silence We Eat by Oyindamola Shoola.

The Silence We Eat by Oyindamola Shoola, illustrated by Renike Olusanya. Photo Credit: Oyindamola Shoola

Amazing stuff!

So Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rave right now and there are a lot of mixed feelings about how it would disrupt the Creative space in the coming years.

What are your thoughts on this? What opportunities do you think African Creatives (traditional artists, digital artists, photographers) be leveraging today to stay globally competitive?

I don’t see AI disrupting the African art scene. In my opinion, every new invention is an opportunity of some sort.

Do I think AI needs to be regulated? ABSOLUTELY.

There are some unethical things happening in the AI space that I am 100% against; theft, porn etc.

I however think that AI makes a great idea generator in the art scene. I haven’t really explored the opportunities associated with AI, so I can’t specifically give points as to how it should be leveraged.

We stand with you on the regulatory aspect. That needs to be in place ASAP!

On a lighter note, tells us, who are the top 3 artists that you adore and would love to meet or collaborate with in the future?

Oh that’s easy! Beyonce, Chimamanda & Tracee Ellis Ross 🙂

AMANDLA - African visual artist, African art

Collaborative project with Hulu for the movie “The United States vs Billie Holiday.” Photo Credit: Renike Olusanya

Albino Woman, 2020 by Renike Olusanya

Albino Woman, 2020 by Renike Olusanya. Photo Credit: Renike Olusanya

That’s a dope lineup!

Another random question – if your art had a music genre, what would it be?

This is actually a great question! I would think it’s a mix of pop, Nigerian R&B as well as afrobeats.

C’mon now! That’s a healthy mix lol

Okay, one final one – if you had a superpower that would enhance your artistic abilities, what would it be and how would it influence your work?

Haha! Speed! To think up ideas and finish in a breeze. I enjoy the art of conceptualising and visualising ideas and all, but sometimes the execution phase takes so long!

Smart choice cause we totally feel you on that!

It’s been fun chatting with you, Renike! Before you go, can you share one tactical piece of advice you would give to an emerging creative who comes to you for career mentorship?

Asides practicing and staying consistent, be sure to explore different mediums as much as possible in your free time.

In my experience, they have an impact on your practice, expertise and style and there is never wasted knowledge.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t specialise, but it’s a great way to broaden your knowledge about certain important aspects of your profession.

I have discovered that when I paint with different mediums and come back to my major medium of expression, which is painting digitally, I always notice significant growth and a clear improvement in my skill.

Really great stuff! Thank you, Renike! For folks that want to connect with you, how can they reach you?

I’m on Instagram as iamrenike. I use the same handle on Twitter as well, but follow at your own risk lmao. Folks can also send me an email at [email protected].

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