It was during the summer this year, that Peniel Enchil, popular lifestyle illustrator, blew up some of her popular illustrations and showed them to Accra.
The city was very privileged to have Peniel host her exhibition, Naissance at the African Regent Hotel. Walking into the hotel hall felt like I had stepped into Penie's brain, viewing the illustrations we see on her social media page, (peniel_enchill) through her eyes, on a large scale. Almost life size sometimes. For those who missed the exhibition, we saw an amazing variety of her art work, from celebrity illustrations to lifestyle illustrations carrying strong messages we can all relate to you, to a surprising cultural image, one of my very favorite.
I had a quick chat with Peniel recently, to hear more about the young, ambitious, talented humble lady that she is, The Naissance exhibition and her art work.
AR- When did you realize you had talent?
PE- I really can’t pin point a particular age or time of realization. I’ve always drawn and received positive feedback from my peers. So I always knew I had something special.
AR- What would you call your category of art?
PE- Fashion and lifestyle illustrations.
AR- When did you decide to share your art with the world on social media?
PE- This would be toward the end of my second year in university (first degree). I had side-lined serious illustrations and picked up boredom infused doodling’s to get me by those afternoon economics lectures.
Till one day I stumbled across Hayden William’s fashion illustrations, which then lead to noting a whole virtual world. One I wanted to be part of. That’s when the light bulb came on for me.
AR- What were your emotions/ reaction when your followers increased by the thousands? Why was it important to share your art?
PE- Surprising initially. I loved my art, my family and friends loved my work, yet somehow I didn’t realise that others would too! So till this day, it’s still a bit surprising when I realise how many people follow my work.
AR- What were the most popular posts?
PE- It would have to be the new year’s post, and a few romance posts. Everyone loves a good romance, evidently, even as illustrations.
AR- The last new year Eve's post went viral. People reposting and adding their own text to it. Skewing it both negatively and positively. How did that make you feel?
PE- Disappointed initially, as I wondered why people would maliciously do that. But I realised it was a blessing in disguise exposing a large crowd to my work. It turned out to be a good way to start 2015.
AR- Tell me about the art show you had in Ghana at the African Regent.
PE- Naissance! Naissance was definitely an experience and a half. It was my first time planning anything, so I actually looked at it as though I was planning a birthday party I had never had.
Though I faced challenges with surprisingly mundane issues because I had little experience in Ghana, I had a great team, from my father and Uncles, to my spouse and friends. They really came through.
PE- The support and turnout was also overwhelming, because although I hoped for an audience, I secretly didn’t believe I would get the kind I got. Especially in Ghana, because most of my followers and enthusiasts are based in the west.
AR- What is the future for you and your art work?
PE- I have so many ideas, projects and initiatives I want to fulfil with my work. The bottom line however is impact. Positive impact.
AR- What do you want to do in your future career?
PE- I want to be able to teach my craft, as well as deliver as an artist. I’d also like to give back in terms of intellectual property within my culture. It would be the greatest things to see a change in the mind-set of Ghanaians, where art is valued enough to be taught and encouraged as a budding career choice.
AR- What do you do now?
PE- I’m a freelance fashion and lifestyle illustrator. I work on personal and commercial commissions, with a foot reaching into branded stationary.
AR- What are some of the lessons you got about yourself after creating so many drawings?
PE- I’ve learnt that I’m easily bored yet a perfectionist. Hahaha, weird combination right. I find myself working on several different things at once to curtail that.
I also can’t force creativity and inspiration. Trust me I’ve tried, and if you have any tips for this, please do share.
But on a more serious note, I have learnt that everyone is looking for something they don’t know yet. Daily we log in to social media looking for that something, be it gossip, trends or ideas, positive reinforcement through art and illustration is never a bad idea.
Well, thank you Peniel for sharing your talent, your heart and your positivity with us. God bless your craft and your future. We are excitedly waiting for what is coming next Peniel!!!!!
More images from the exhibition in the slide show below. Thank you for stopping by. xoxox
Images by- Amokwei Quarshie