Back to All Events

Komi Olaf, Artist


Tell us a bit about you.
My full name is Komi-Oluwa, which means “teach me o lord” in Yoruba. I was born in Kaduna, Nigeria to very creative parents who steeped my siblings and I in art and culture from a young age. I went to a boarding school in Nigeria for my secondary education where I remember sneaking out of class to go and stare at a drawing one of the other students had hanging by his locker. I had never seen such a beautiful drawing before, and always hoped that one day I will be able to produce art that will be able to spark an emotion in the viewer.

I am a middle child born on July 13th, and my emotional nature has proven to be an asset in my work. I strive to dig deep within myself, and express as many concepts as time would allow to the best of my ability.

I migrated to Canada with my parents in 2002 to study architecture at Carleton University, where I eventually picked up a paint brush for the first time in my life and painted on canvas. As an immigrant I have always been torn between my hyphenated identity as a Nigerian-Canadian, and have struggled to understand and express through my work, the points where both cultures begin to intersect. I got introduced to spoken word poetry in 2007, and remain forever grateful for stumbling into another form of self expression. I began to write and memorize a lot of my poems in order to compete in the national slam poetry competition which I won with the Ottawa team in 2009. We formed a band called The Recipe after our victory and began touring all over Canada till 2011 when the band broke up. 
I moved to Toronto to pursue my dream and build my career as an artist.

Where do you draw inspiration from in Toronto?
Toronto is a visually stimulating city! However, I have drawn a lot of my inspiration from conversations with random people on the streets, and most often the subway musicians.

What is one of your biggest accomplishments so far?
One of my biggest accomplishments so far was making the transition from working full time at a job in which I found no fulfillment, but lots of security, into a career in the arts where there is lots of fulfillment but little security.

What is your favorite place to see art?
I love to see art everywhere, however, I am most drawn to places where there is no glass between the viewer and the work. A place where I can stand very close to the work and see as many details as humanly possible.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Show me, dont tell me. – Tom Dubicanac

How to contact you online?
Africa Today article
AfroPunk article
United Virtuoso here