“When you do something, do it for yourself, and because you are motivated, don’t let negative feedback from friends or parents discourage you. I say this because despite opposition from my parents, today they are proud of me.”
These are words that gives you strength to continue doing what you love. This justifies the fact that your inner will to achieve something is your N°1 source of motivation. It can be seen in the artworks of Aurel.
Aurel Yahouedeou, a Beninese currently doing his second masters in IT Security in Senegal,Dakar. Who has carved himself a place in the world of art as well.
How was life growing up?
I started like everybody. I started drawing in Primary school, I was very good in it, but I didn’t imagine that I could take advantage of that ability. All I wanted was good grades. My older brother also draws, and in those times he used to draw cartoons. That motivated me more to go into visual arts. But when I entered college I stopped drawing, for 5 good years, firstly because my parents didn’t like it, according to my dad there was no future in it. That is how African parents see things. So I stopped drawing because they spanked us for it. I took it up again recently, because I finally found a new perspective to the art. I found something new and different I could do with my gift.
Why the choice of an artistic Molotov cocktail?
Primarily because I knew how to draw basically, I drew what any other artist could draw too, so I could easily be mixed up with any other drawer. Then I started using phones, started travelling and discovering landscapes and taking pictures and my interest in photography grew.
When I wanted to officially launch my carrier as a drawer, I asked myself if it was not possible to merge my drawings with the artistic photos I take. That is how I started integrating my pencil drawings to nature and to natural landscapes.
What motivated you into this invention?
I don’t draw to prove anything to my dad or anybody, neither to please or impress somebody. I draw because it’s a passion, and most of all to engrave my name in the history of art. I would like people to refer to me as someone who did something different in the artistic world, like Van Gogh, Picasso et al…
That is what pushed me to think about something different and original.
To produce a drawing how long does it take you?
It all depends on what I want to produce. For me if I call a drawing a ‘sketch’ it simply means I didn’t put in the maximum effort I need to produce a near to perfect drawing. The sketches help you to have an idea of what the drawing is all about. I could spend up to a month on a sketch to really say that the result of my drawing is quite good. It also depends on how complex the drawing is, but the more time I spend on the drawing, the more time I spend on the details that make the drawing come to life.
Do you think your art has a future in Africa?
I don’t want to be negative, but for now I would say ‘No’. The future I have designed for my art has various aspects, and the principal thing I would like to do is interior design. However what I noticed was that when I try to sell my art in Africa, those that seem to be interested are not ready to give out the cash, and at the same time I would not like to extort or impose a huge amount on my clients, but I know the value of my work, therefore I would prefer not to sell at all than to give it out at a cheap price.
I received many calls and offers from people living outside Africa to do some work for them, and the amount of money proposed to me was very interesting for that matter.
For example, here in Africa, precisely in Benin (where I was born), I had people message me and say “ I want a portrait”. When you mention the price, he goes on negotiating to the point of asking you to do it for free, because for them it’s just “a drawing”. The next thing they say is “ I will call you back” and you never hear from them again.
However I’m not totally pessimistic, because I try to contribute to my society in my own way. I try to invest and impose myself on Africans.
Would like to share with us your future plans?
I have a lot of projects in my head, firstly I have started selling my drawings, and I use the revenue to help NGOs, and orphanages in need. Aside that I’m working on myself, finishing studies, and then I can define a well thought out plan on how I can use my talent to help others.
My art feeds me currently, since I am in school, I don’t collect anything from my parents, I support myself by what I get from my work.
How can you help your society with your art?
It does not cost me a dime to help, because it is a gift God gave me, therefore sharing its benefits with those in need is the least I can do. I am working towards it. Financial support to the needy, art lessons in 3D making, and create interior designs, because I have very wild ideas and I know it.
I am a bit crazy, that I know.
You recently said in an interview that you want to create the first Beninese cartoon?
No, I said it before and I realized that someone has already taken the lead so now I think I want to create the first short movie of “mixed animations or animated drawings” that is to say a mixture of reality and drawings.
There is a New York based Indonesian artist Wahyu Ichwandardi who is already doing the ‘ stop motion’ , but my goal is to do better than him, so I’m training myself , and hopefully in two years time I am sure I would have mastered the art of ‘ stop motion’.
What motivates you to go forward?
You have to be convinced that what you want to do will be worth it. If you have any drop of doubt, then you better not do it at all.
I am my own motivation.
Gradually when the public’s interest started to grow it pushed me to do more.
What would you like to tell the African youth?
When you do something do it for yourself, and because you are motivated, don’t listen to friends, or parents. Because despite the fact that my parents were opposed to my choice, today they are proud of me.
Don’t try to prove yourself to anybody, just to do it for yourself. Let the young parents too encourage their children and guide them to develop their God-given talents.