Young and talented Olu Omisore is a UK-based multidisciplinary artist, CEO of Olokun Home and Olokun Store inspired by Olokun Heads also known as Ife heads.
In this interview with Glamtush, he talks about his journey into the art world and more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your crafts.
My name is Olu Omisore, a multidisciplinary artist based in the UK. I’m the owner of Olokun Home and Olokun Store. Olokun Home is driven and inspired by Olokun Heads (also known as Ife-Heads). It was founded to expand and promote African/Yoruba culture and art into your home. Olokun Home is a place of expression, comfort and style.
While the Olokun Store also inspired by Olokun Heads is a jewellery and accessories brand based in the UK. It was founded in 2021 with a focus on creating premium and affordable jewellery inspired by African culture.
Olokun is supposed to be a Yoruba deity worshiped by a particular set of people. How does this relate to your crafts?
My craft and jewellery were indeed inspired by Olokun’s head. The Heads are one of the most naturalistic and realistic sculptures that were sculpted by Yoruba people in Southwest Nigeria between the 11th and 15th Centuries. All the sculptures produced during this period exemplify African civilisation at the height of its power.
Olokun Heads symbolise the beautiful African royalties and culture. They are powerful expressions of serenity born of divine authority.
Are you a worshipper of Olokun?
I am not a worshiper of the Olokun deity, but I am proud of my culture and the Yoruba artisan contribution towards African art and world history.
What was the attraction for your kind of crafts – Olokun heads?
Olokun heads/Ife-heads were produced long before colonisation, and the level of skill set and the technicality involved in creating naturalistic sculptures around the 11th century are my first attraction.
This head renewed my passion for African history and art and the importance of retelling our own story without colonial misconception and distortion.
Tell us how your journey into the art world began.
I have always seen myself as a creative person, and drawing was one of my hobbies growing up in Nigeria, but it was after I moved to the UK that I developed and pursued more interest in art.
I have a master’s degree in a computer-generated imagery, and I worked as a digital artist for many years. But my inspiration for Olokun Home and Olokunstore began after seeing the magnificent Olokun Head at British Museum five years ago.
Who are your target audience?
I believe we all have a role in promoting African history and culture against western distortion and my target audience is everyone.
How can you convince people of other religions like Christianity who regard such as idols to buy your craft as aesthetic items for their homes, putting such belief into consideration?
I grew up in a Pentecostal household, and I also had to challenge the age-long misconceptions about African history and spirituality from being bad and evil.
The truth is that there’s nothing evil about any aspect of Yoruba culture and religion. And my crafts purpose remains to celebrate our artistic history by infusing African art into our interior architecture.
What has been your most remarkable moment on this journey?
Nothing really beats seeing one’s creation and art coming to life. However, the most remarkable moment is teaching my children about African art history and Yoruba’s artisan’s role in his development.
Were there moments you were harassed or embarrassed because of your specialized crafts?
I have never been harassed or embarrassed about my craft. On the contrary, my craft has provided me with the opportunity to educate others about the role of African art in world art history.
Where do you hope to see yourself in a few years?
The goal is to promote African art history through Olokunhome and Olokunstore products, and I hope in the next few years my crafts will be available to sell in more countries.
Your craft is not something common. So, how have people received your crafts globally?
The support has been unbelievable. And I’m highly grateful to everyone who continued to patronise my Olokunhome and Olokunstore products.
What are some of the other things that you have done?
Not only am I a multidisciplinary artist, but I also design jewellery and accessories inspired by Olokun heads.
How was growing up and does artistry run in the family?
My parents were entrepreneurs. I had seven siblings growing up. Being a middle child was quite challenging, but my late parents were supportive of my creativity, and I’m sure they are both proud of the man I have become today.
Creativity runs in my family. My older brother is an actor, and one of my sisters is a professional photographer and makeup artist.
What are some of the lessons learnt?
I would say that some of the lessons learnt include the importance of embracing one’s culture.
In addition, I have also learnt the importance of a strong work ethic and dedication. I have also discovered the value of networking and building relationships with others, as well as the need for adaptability, the power of effective communication.
Over the years, I have also discovered the importance of continuous learning: Staying up-to-date on industry trends, and developments and continuously learning new skills.
What lessons has life taught you?
Life has taught me the importance of showing gratitude.
Who or what do you consider the most significant influence in your life?
My late parents have been the greatest influence in my life.
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