We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawline-Jane, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
One thing people are unaware about the visual arts, especially when thinking about having a visual arts career, is just how much time you spend on other tasks besides physical art making. There’s a lot of writing, planning and seeking opportunities that go into supporting and sustaining and art career.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to be an artist. Sounds like a cliche, but it’s true! As a child I would thumb through some of the art books my parents had – one of the ones I remember distinctly was Andrew Wyeth’s “The Helga Pictures”. That was the first time I saw a complete body of work presented in one place. I couldn’t have been more than 5, but it introduced me to the concept of observation, of observing a subject over time and studying it, sketching and approaching it in a very measured way, It introduced to me the concept of being an artist. I spent a lot of time watching and drawing as a kid. I was kind of quiet and introverted, and it helped me understand the world a little better, at a safe distance. I wanted to be an architect when I was little, because I thought architects just drew houses and people built them. Once I realized it involved structure and math, I pivoted to an interest in illustration and general fine art.
I love exploring different materials, so when I was in school I experimented with any materials I could get my hands on – colored pencils, graphite, printmaking, paint, photography, clay, you name it. I wanted to get a feel for everything, see how it moved, what it could and couldn’t do. I’m very much still the same way in many aspects of my life. I’m an explorer.
Recently my studio practice has been focused on two main themes: the natural world and memory. When thinking about and planning my work I use photos as reference points. I often take the photographs myself. I feel lucky to have grown up during that sweet spot when film cameras were still in use, right before digital cameras were invented. It taught me to compose a shot before snapping a picture, because film was precious and you couldn’t see the finished result before the film was exposed and developed. It was all a process from start to finish – assessing the light, framing the shot, setting up the exposures, developing the film and then printing the photos. There were opportunities for wonderful surprises or disappointment at any time. You could never go back and recreate the exact circumstances again. The artists hand was always in it. All of these processes form the basis of how I approach my work now, regardless of medium. All of my work as a back story and thought process, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.
My hope is that when people look at my work, they spend time exploring the different processes along with me, appreciating my choice of material, the patterns and colors I chose to focus on, the inclusion or omission of certain marks. I hope that they can see the various trains of thought and how they work together to tell one long story.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love visiting town with a loose agenda, going with how I feel each day! LA is so close to my home in the Bay Area that I can feasibly fly down in an hour and enjoy a weekend at some of my favorite local places.
If I could compile all of my trips to LA into one super trip I would first unwind by spending the day at Olympic Spa in Korea Town, alternating between various soaks, saunas and the salt room. After getting throughly relaxed it would be off to any number of amazing Korean restaurants nearby to replenish and reflect.
The next day I would head out to the Exposition Park Rose Garden to wander around, take photos and literally stop to smell the roses. Maybe I’d bring a watercolor set and sit in the grass to do some sketching. After that I would walk over to CAAM ( The California African American Museum) to check out any number of incredible exhibitions they always manage to pack into such a small space.
A trip to LA isn’t complete for me without at least dipping my toes in the Ocean, and there are plenty to choose from. As an out of towner it’s sometimes fun to go “full tourist” and what better way than heading down to Santa Monica pier. It’s a great opportunity for people watching, photographing and just kicking back before heading home.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have supported me on my journey! My friends who attended shows and supported me through challenging work and deadlines, my sisters who acted as cheerleaders for every little accomplishment, and fellow artists who have recommended me for great opportunities!
Facebook: Dawline-Jane Art & Illustration