Self Taught Artist, Affen Segun Talks about His Journey as a Contemporary Nigerian Artist

Growing Up With Strong Women Helped Affen Segun Create Paintings of Iconic Women That are Unparalleled

For some artists, a story of years of formal art education that led them into the art world is the introduction to their journey. For artist Affen Segun, this is not the case. At just 10 years old, Affen began drawing after he got inspired by the cartoon characters in the popular Nigerian comic “Super Strikers” and practiced his craft day in and day out by watching Youtube videos and never giving up on learning. In 2014, Affen was introduced to Instagram by way of a friend and once he saw what other artists were up to? His work would evolve in ways he never imagined.

Nigerian celebrities like Wiz Kid, Mayorkun, Dona Jazzy, and Dremo were a few of the faces that Affen painted when he was confident in his technique and showcasing his talents for Instagram to see. After getting his work to these artists and celebrities, he noticed that people started to see his work on a larger scale and his journey to creating original pieces began. We got to hear from Affen about his work and what inspires him.

MAMA AFRICA” she is strong, hard-working, smart and intelligent.”


Who inspires you to create?

Basically, I will say it’s my mum. She is the inspiration behind my first project “MAMA AFRICA”. She is strong, hard-working, smart and intelligent. When I was little, she made sure I got all of the art materials that I needed. Now that she is late, I dedicated the painting to her in her memory.

A lot of your recent work showcases woman empowerment and motherhood, tell us where your inspiration for this came from?

I was brought up in an environment where women needed to go through a lot of struggles to feed their children by any means, the way they struggle and the way they make good things happen around them amazes me. Seeing all these things alone inspires me a lot. 

I thought about it and there is no better way that I can make people see and understand these things unless I paint them. My paintings tell stories about the past and present struggles that African people experience history, culture, and traditions. My “motherhood” painting was also inspired by my mum. She had a picture where she was backing me when she was working as a labourer at an uncompleted building that year, the picture was old, she showed me when I was 15 and I had that picture in my head ever since. I decided to paint that image and show my appreciation for my mother and mothers worldwide. She loved me, cared for me, and went through a lot so that I can become the man I am today. She is the sweetest mother ever. May her soul Rest In Peace. 

“I wish for my works to be seen in every part of the world so that people can connect to me through my paintings and I always wish for my paintings to bring peace to people and also bring them together.”

How has Nigeria influenced what you create?

I wouldn’t say Nigeria as a whole has influenced me, but a lot of people here had a big impact on what I do. My family and my celebrity brothers, Davido, Mayorkun, DREMO, Reekadonanks, Perruzzi are first and foremost. BetterShared has also had a big impact on my work. I thank God for them all. BetterShared has done a lot for me. They make sure my voice is heard, and that my paintings are seen and appreciated. I’m grateful.

Your recent piece “The Great Call” was featured at the BetterShared Gallery Pop-Up in London, what was the inspiration behind this piece?

My piece “The Great Call” was about my experience growing up, but I never thought of painting then because I didn’t think of myself as having the capabilities yet. There used to be a mosque beside my house, as early as 5:00 in the morning, there is this announcement that comes out of the megaphone, saying “Wake up, wake up its times to call unto God, there’s a time to sleep and there’s time to work but right now this is a wake-up call. Wake up now and pray to God.” I have heard this for years and this is what inspired the painting. We all have a different wake-up call. So my piece is to remind everyone of just that. This is the time to wake up to either pray, go to work, go chase your dreams or what so ever you want to achieve. This is the time. 

Is there anything special you think the public should know about your work that we don’t already know?

I may not live forever but my paintings will and that’s the legacy I’m living behind for my unborn children and the world.

Affen leaves the artists who will come-up behind him with this advice: “..always keep painting, believe in your content and always be patient, but last but not least is to always pray! It’s essential.”

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 Credits: Banner Image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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