Kamal Obatoyinbo is a photographer and visual artist who manipulates his photographs into fine art. He exhibited eight works, amongst them, ‘Metamorphosis,’ a piece depicting a half human, half jellyfish at the recently concluded Kaduna Book and Arts Festival. Here, he talks about launching out as an artist, his inspiration, and more. Excerpts:
What drew you to photography?
During my postgraduate programme, I hit a phase in life where I felt like I needed a new hobby. So, I tasked myself with taking at least five photographs on my iPhone 6 every day. I was in Leicester then and spring came with lovely weather and colourful petals that bloomed and made the environment photogenic. So naturally, most of the images I took were of flowers and buildings. I was motivated, cheered and inspired by some friends to keep creating, so I started posting my images on a photography application called VSCO, where images of all kinds and photographers of all levels are welcome. It was on this app I noticed and got inspired by the photographs of Ahmed. A (Almajiri) the Nigerian photojournalist, and we developed a camaraderie, which has made my journey so easy.
With photography/art, I have the freedom to think creatively without being governed by the wishes of someone else. The pleasure of having complete freedom to create, makes me proud and fulfilled. This is exactly what I needed when I decided to take on a new hobby.
At what point did you decide to enhance your photographs into pop art?
I wouldn’t necessary call my style pop art. Although there are some pop elements in my art. I had been manipulating images even before I started photography. So when I started photography I had an idea on how to combine both experiences to result in more visually satisfying images. However, I work in different styles and not all photographs I create require any manipulation. Many times, they are perfect just as they are.
What was it like working on your first major photography project? What was the theme or title and what remains most memorable to you?
My first project was incredible and exciting because I got invited to display my work at a mental health themed exhibition held by an NGO that aimed to use art to create awareness on the topic. This was a special experience for me because prior to that, I only shared my photographs with some friends and the VSCO community. The exhibition was the perfect opportunity to introduce myself to the world as Kamal, the artist.
On your site, one of your works shows a scarred or webbed face. What usually inspires your work?
My work is mostly inspired by my personality and mood. I always crave my own personal space, and find an escape in nothingness. This shapes