The love for figure painting way back in school has led 26 year old Edwin Ofori Antwi to develop the flair for drawing with the pencil. Without difficulty, he is able to seamlessly combine two separate photographs into one original artwork.
It all started in November 2011, when he took the trade as his profession and two years down the lane, he tells the GRAPHIC BUSINESS there is necessarily no difference between pencil portraiting and painting.
He makes use of graphite, carbon, charcoal, coloured pencils and other kinds of pencils whereas painting involves the wet media as oil paints, acrylics and the likes.
Right from childhood he used to draw some family members and so the desire to take it up as an occupation came in when in secondary school he chose to read visual arts as an elective and painting at the tertiary level.
“After school, I showed a portrait that I had drawn my niece and someone asked me to draw a picture of his children and paid me,” he said adding that was when he realized he had found a way to make money.
He said it does not require much capital to start and that one can always start very small and make it big with time. Tools required to work basically include pencils and cutting knife for sharpening, reference and laptop.
“For any others, though needed at certain times, I can always do without them. I do not need to see a person before I draw but I just need a photograph, whether digital or hard copy, it works perfectly well for me,” he said.
He is yet to be involved in sketching some criminal faces. He does not necessarily have a role model but there are few artists he has a lot of respect for in the pencil portrait area. They are Patrick Asiamah Quarm, a junior at Prempeh College, Elcarna Mpesum, a senior at Prempeh College and Michael Archie, a senior at the university, and a few others.
His marketing strategy involves portraiting free of charge; rely on recommendations by old clients; periodic office to office advertising and through social media, especially facebook. Though he has not sold any works outside, he has a couple of commissions from locals which however have found their way outside the country.
He works at home and his bedroom is his studio yet he always appreciates his works before anyone else does. “However it is always more appealing to see the smiles and joy in the faces of clients when they finally see a work of mine,” he said.
Regrettably, at one time his work was rejected, though the client gave him hundreds of photos to choose from and it only turned out his was her worst. He believes pencil portraiting is supposed to be lucrative but in our part of the world, it has a long way to go.
He looks at the works of other artists, how they work and take good notice of whatever comes out in every single he does, because he learns new things every time. He has plans to participate in fairs locally and internationally.
For now, he technically does not employ any person though he periodically employs the services of others to make frames for his works. He does not see himself ever quitting drawing unless God decides.
He looks forward to own a personal gallery and be able to hold enough exhibitions. “I believe that what I do is a severe but sincere deviation of what contemporary art really entails. That why “the more you know, the better you can break its laws” come in.”
EDUCATION AND FAMILY BACKGROUND
Mr Antwi attended the Grace Baptist Preparatory School at Amakom, in Kumasi, Prempeh College and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He is the last among two other siblings and enjoys drawing, listening to music and playing guitar as his hobbies.
He appealed to the government to see the industry as a tourism tool to rake in reveneue for national development.
“Exhibitions, galleries workshops, art education etc are some measures that can be taken to realise revenue. Art has transformed so much in these modern times. The layman’s view of contemporary art is vastly different from that of the Art Scholar. All kinds of art, are acceptable, but the more you know, the better you can break its laws,” he added.