Arinze Stanley is a Nigerian based artist that creates hyper-realistic portraits with such detail they are often mistaken for photographs. He is a self-taught artist and his family owns an envelope company in which Arinze Stanley would learn to further perfect his drawings.
I fully believe in him as both an artist and friend and am thrilled to see his work being shown in more art fairs and shows. I hope you enjoy my exclusive interview!
Arinze Stanley portrait of artist

Interview with Arinze Stanley

Arinze, this is not a photograph hashtag seems like it was meant for you as an artist as anytime I see your work, whether it be online or in person, it appears to be a photograph. How many hours of time does it take to complete each image with such refined details? I do hope you take that as a rather large compliment, too!
 
I truly appreciate that as I worked and hoped someday that someone would say this about my work. I spend an average of 250 hours on my artworks depending on size and content.
 
When I think of hyper-realistic artists I enjoy the works of Yigal Ozeri, Kit King, Mike Dargas to name a few- and wanted to know if were you inspired by any of these artists mentioned? If not, who are you inspired by?
 
I enjoy watching works of other artist like Yigal Ozeri, Kelvin Okafor, Emmauelle Dascanio and other awesome hyper-realists. I draw energy from the inspiration I get from this community of hyper-realists and it keeps driving me to becoming a better artist.
About 7 years ago, while watching a random YouTube video on my couch, I came across the name ‘Kelvin Okafor’ and I was prompted to search about him on Google. I was breathless… I couldn’t even believe they weren’t photos, immediately I got up, went to the store bought a couple of cheap pencils and took some paper from my dad’s factory and I started to draw…. I haven’t stopped drawing till today.
Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic black noise drawing Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic I Be Lady drawing

Your subject matter is often of African decent. Being that you reside in Nigeria, do you enjoy painting public figures and people from your literal surroundings? Is your work meant to bring attention to your culture?

Yes. A lot of my drawings are of people of African decent, I see a lot of art but I don’t see a lot of my people represented so I try to bring the spotlight here, to my home, and Africa so I can be able to tell our stories, share our struggles, and speak against things affecting my society.

Some of your portraits appear to have such emotional rage or anger to them while others convey a certain warmth and deep sense of comfort. Is that your emotional state flowing through your pieces or are the subjects allowing themselves to be vulnerable around you?

I draw what I know, feel and have experienced. Like I have always said, I also feel like my art is like energy transfer, when I pick up my pencils and start drawing I feel that transfer moving from me to my artworks through my pencils. Also, when I work with my subjects, I like to get personal with them, understand their emotional disposition and also create a bond that allows me express what they feel as we take almost 500 to 1000 photos before I finally choose one.

Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic innocence drawing Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic surreal drawing
 

I met you while you were in New York at your first solo show at Jonathan LeVine Projects. You were the focus of the last show within that space and I found it to be remarkable as we stayed in touch ever since. How did that show affect your career and were other doors and opportunities given to you after that show?

My experience with Jonathan LeVine gallery during my debut solo show was priceless. I believe it opened a lot of opportunities for me, both as an internationally exhibiting artist and as a Nigerian. I realized I could get a lot more people to get hear my stories. Also I have had a lot of exhibition requests from a lot of galleries, which is so humbling.

Have you ever thought of using other mediums besides charcoal and graphite? If you could learn a new medium- what would it be and why?

I have tried so many media for my art but I find that I am more connected to charcoal and graphite as I have always been surrounded by a lot of paper during my childhood as my father owns a paper converting company so I had a lot of a paper and pencils to play with. Pencils have always been my favorite toys to play with- so I have a history with this medium and I feel I have to some extent perfected my relationship with charcoal and graphite.

Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic work in progress drawing
Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic insomnia drawing
Who would your ultimate art collaboration be with and why?
 
I would absolutely love to someday exhibit with awesome artists like Yigal Ozeri (once more), Kelvin Okafor, Emmanuel Dascanio, Joel Rea and Marco Grassi in an educational institution such as a museum.
 
What does it feel like having success as an artist? Is it a different feeling in Nigeria as opposed to the states?
 
I feel like I have a long way to success but hopefully with continuous patience, practice and persistence- I will become an even better artist than I am today.
Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic mindless drawing Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic portrait graphite drawing Arinze Stanley hyper-realistic The Machine Man graphite drawing

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