We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Makoyawo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, how do you define success?
Success to me symbolizes freedom. Freedom in my physical movement, freedom in expressing my creative and business ideas, freedom within my finances and lifestyle. Success to me also means the ability to create what reality I desire for myself. Attaining success, or my definition of it, has always been very important to me. In ways, it’s what keeps my foot on the pedal and wards me away from being complacent. The drawback is that sometimes I’m so focused on how it will feel to finally reach success that I struggle with living in the moment, my mind most of the time is in the future. Ironically, achieving what I deem as success I think will allow me to finally appreciate the present since I will feel “free”.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
So being of Nigerian descent, I draw inspiration for my art from imperial, spiritual and visual elements from my culture. As a first generation Nigerian-American, I like to include moments from pop culture in my artwork that occurred at pivotal times from my childhood and adolescence. I feel like when you grow up in a non-American household, you tend to have 2 identities growing up. There’s the part of you that might speak your language when you’re at home around family, influenced by your culture and are into upholding traditions via clothing, pomp and ceremony. Then, there’s the American version of you that you “play at” in school and outside of the home. My art is inspired by the duality of both identities and its meaning.
I have a painting series titled “First Generation”, which includes pieces that feature Nigerian-adjacent visuals, like certain colorful ankara prints. On the other hand, I have a piece inspired by Keisha from “Belly” because her opening scene was so iconic to me growing up, it’s literally burned in my brain. Also, some of my art pieces were crafted to promote the ethereal beauty of the West African female form and elements of afro-futurism. I enjoy merging alluring figures and distorted visual effects with floral motifs, materials and prints.
Though I’m an emerging artist, I’ve drawn and sketched my entire life. I started painting while I attended boarding school. We had an impressive art studio on campus that I would sneak to after my 1st hour of mandatory study hall was over. At that time I honestly thought I would end up being a fashion designer. An alumni from my school helped me get a design internship at Sean John when I was like 15 but my parents wouldn’t allow me to do it because it [obviously] was unpaid. At the time, my parents didn’t understand the importance of getting that as young as I was but they didn’t want me to get taken advantage of so I totally understand it now. It’s funny because some of the things from my old design submissions I definitely have seen but that’s a story for another day.
Around that time I enjoyed painting but didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve. My love for art has always been present but after boarding school and college, it took the backseat to other professional and personal pursuits. Since then, I’ve worked for different publications and fashion brands doing marketing, creative strategy and PR, etc. But honestly, moving to Los Angeles was when I realized that being a full-time artist was the career I was destined for. My self-discovery through my journey with my art has helped me realize my purpose in an indescribable way and help me align with my destiny. Like I finally feel at home within myself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If one of my friends was visiting the city, like for a long weekend, here’s a couple of places we’d visit depending on the vibe. I’m a huge foodie, anyone who’s dated me will tell you I’m “bougie and greedy”, lol. Some of my favorite food spots in the city are Craig’s for their honey truffle fried chicken, Mastro’s specifically for their seafood tower and butter cake, KOI for their black cod dish and “she’s so LA” sushi roll, Tribl for the experience and Katana, Perch or Catch for the drinks. If it’s nightlife, Poppy, Delilah (if it’s a private party night) or Classic Cat for a very random fun night out… during the weeknights though. My thing has been private art events more than the club which can get super mundane and boring after a while.
Back to the food, there was a brunch spot called Wolf near the DITA store that had the best chicken & waffles in the city before they closed shop. I shed tears thinking about how good it was.
I routinely need art rejuvenation and inspiration so I’d arrange for us to check out the latest at MOCA or LACMA. Band of Vices is another really cool gallery to visit and check out pieces from emerging artists. I really like experiential art happenings like the Van Gogh immersive gallery that’s going on in Hollywood at the moment. It was amazing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my parents! I don’t know if that’s a typical answer or corny but I don’t care lol. They’re my best friends, I can always count on their support, prayers or even scolding when I need it. I feel very blessed with them in my corner. Though they had a strict streak when I was younger, they aren’t your typical Nigerian parents. Don’t get me wrong, they’re on my case about settling down and popping out offspring but I think they’ve come to terms with me wanting to establish myself first before I evolve to the next stage of what my life should be. They supported my move from New York to Los Angeles and knew, despite them missing me, that I needed to take that leap to come into my own as an individual. As I came into adulthood, I’m grateful that we have the relationship that we do with one another. I understand them on a human level so much more than when I was a kid.
Myron Rogan Naj Brown