That is the quote i first thought off after being taken through the works of this artist. Occasionally you will get a guy who has done very nice art pieces. More often you will find that his work is leanly specialized to one line of art. If its painting they will just do painting or maybe sculptures. Few are the times that you will get an artist who is all rounded and a master of many art genres.
This guy started out simple,from early school, painted on corridors in town and slowly graduated to become the top artist in Thika. Well, his wings are spreading to extents that celebrities from Nairobi are coming all the way from uptown Nairobi to have pieces of his art on their bodies.
Am usually excited about art and couldn't help but jump start the interview.
Simple,who are you?
Am simply Buju Sanii.
Yep,I have held that name since i was a kid.I have always been an artist
And Buju, what are your areas of specialization?
Well,am not restricted to one art genre. I do tattoos, graffiti on T-shirts,interior decor, air and hair brush artworks,portraits,surrealism,abstracts,crafts on coffee tables ,Gothic wall clocks,aquariums, lampshades and wall graffiti.
My friend, how do you manage all those and where did you get the training,it must have taken forever to learn all those?
Now, that the mistake people make,i did not go to any school to learn about art. Matter of fact, if we talk of training, i am more in architecture.
Wait a minute, you are now an architect?
In a few years time i will graduate from JKUAT.
I have seen many of your pieces and they are awesome,lets talk about art,when did you start art?
Since early childhood i have always been an into art. In primary school,I was the pencil friendly guy and i remember selling my art and craft exercise books to other students since they were very interested in my drawings.
And what really pushed you into art?
As i said, for me its inborn. I cant pinpoint to any specific thing because i found myself drawing and having an eye for art. For me its entirely about passion and interest.
When did you fully decide to do art full time?
I realized my calling long time ago. When i was in Thika Primary school there was this art teacher called Mrs Njuguna who really encouraged me to be serious about art. I was in class 6 and once I decided to be a full time artist I have never turned back. After that I went to Chania Boys High School where I perfected the art of of pencil work, calligraphy and T-shirt graffiti. I did back drops for the School Drama Department, did the school certificates and everything that my hands were be given.
Men! I played soccer. I was part of the Central Province Chania Dream Team that reached the national levels four times in a row. The team that included stars like Pinchezz,Luvutsi,Rescue,Ibra and later Steven Waruru set standards that have never been emulated since. After high school I hanged my boots and went back to my first love,art
Am really enjoying this interview: What did you do after clearing high school?
You see if you are following my art journey, I started with basic,drawings, pencil work, calligraphy, T-shirt graffiti and back drops. This is an art journey which every born artist follows. After high school I graduated into canvas painting where together with my buddies Orina, Totti and Simon, we used to do canvas painting for Blue Post Hotel. I used to trek 3 km daily to Blue Post to do this. Later i joined JKUAT and started my architecture course.
Let me interrupt for a minute: So you have never stopped being an artist even for a moment?
You see, when i joined JKUAT, I upgraded to the next level where i started doing interiors. This involves turning walls or even offices, salons and hotels into a deeper expressions of art. I have done countless interior designs in Thika town.
Lets talk about tattoos?
Many people take me as tattooist but in essence am an all rounded artist. But some times back a customer inquired about tattoos and i thought lemmie try them. I have always loved challenges and i did not cower from this. And woo! he loved it.
What training? You see as an artist you just look at something or situation and you get a expression that you then transfer into artwork. If you look at all my tattoos they are 3D not the usual lines here and there that you can get anywhere.
Okey, i can see you have a tattoo, does it hurt to have one?
Hahaha!, that the first fear that many people have. If you are getting it from an expert who understands all the the aspects of tattoo-ism and its relation with art,then my friend you should not worry. My tattoos are done professionally and i observe utmost hygiene. To be frank, you will just feel ticklish when having a tattoo.
How has it been to rise to your current position as the pioneer of art in Thika and the most sought artist in the region?
It has been tough and challenging but with a lot of perseverance. I have been able to withstand the test of time. I have seen numerous artists come and go because they are too quick making cash. I started with a working capital of 3000/= only. I used this to buy some paint, brushes and plain t-shirts and that became my foundation. I started painting from my house, then someone allowed me to rent a corridor in Tabby House. My friend, for one full year I was painting from a corridor near the toilets and I never gave up. Later I hooked up with a friend Edwin and rented a small space before I moved to my own art studio18 months ago.
What has been the overall response towards your work?
Art is not fully embraced but slowly people especially the youth are appreciating artworks and artists.
Any opposition from your family?
That has never been a problem since they have seen me grow with the talent to my current place. My mum says as long its what i love doing and its sustaining then she is OK with it.
So is art sustaining and does it pay?
I have never regretted being an artist. As long as the product is appealing to the customer then you dont have to worry. But most importantly as an artist it should never be about the money. Appreciation from your clients should come first. If you are too much into it because of mulla then you wont last.
Which is the your most memorable piece?
There was this artwork that was close to my heart that fetched me 36,000/=
What? A single piece? if i was to offer you a full time job in a company with a good pay,would you take it?
Now you are putting me into a real test, but unfortunately No..I love my job and am so passionate about it that i cannot imagine living without art
If we go back to the issue of tattoos, what are the memorable ones you have done.
Well i did some tattoos on some Nairobi celebrities a few months ago.
What are we talking about here, they are coming all the way from Nairobi for tattoos
Word on the street is that there in a great tattooist in Thika. I did tattoos on Colonel Mustapha. Earlier there was another I did on Bamzigi. I also did tattoos on Isak Tenacy( I.T.), then Plan B and Jaguar is planning on getting one from Buju Sanii.
Why the migration from Nairobi by artists?
Many of the tattooist and artists in Nairobi and generally in Kenya are not into realism. You come to me and tell me there is an expression i want made into a tattoo, i will do that. Mine are 3D, I don't go all over the internet searching for those common flower and dragon tattoos, i do real tattoos having the customers desired expression.
Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
I want in future to have an architectural firm and to be the top artist in Kenya. I also want to mentor young artists who do not know the right path to follow in art.
What have been the challenges so far?
Well every profession has challenges. Everyone's goal is to grow and expand but many are times we have finance challenges. But with time and patience you will always register some growth.
But the worst problem in art is the issue of copy cats who only want get to art to get quick cash at the expense of art. They promise very cheap products that they are never perfect at in order to get the money. There are tattooists that damage people skins with unhygienic and low quality designs. They will also trick upcoming artists in need of money, buy their pieces at low prices and then sell them pretending to be the real artists.
What is one thing you cant live without?
It has to be a pencil and paper.
As we finish, what is your advice to upcoming artists?
Well if you want to be that top notch artist, don't look at the money. First develop your passion, make people appreciate your work, and afterwards they will look for you willing to pay any amount you ask for.
What are your other likes
Being a former footballer, am an avid soccer fan of Thika United. I also love photography and hiking.
Well that is the perfect way to end a week here at Thika Live. This guy can paint your face, tattoo the same face into your arm, paint your interiors, make a Gothic clock, customize an aquarium for you and the list is endless
Thika Live lauds his work and encourages all to embrace art. If you love art make a point of having an art piece around you. Lets all promote our artists.
Tomorrow we will showcase more of Buju works and you can pick your favorite. Thika Live can organize if you want it delivered to your door step.
Follow Thika Live to the end and don't forget to Like and leave your comment on our blog or Facebook page. Buju is on Facebook for more views of his work.Buju Sanii. If you want to book an art piece use 0723894477.
Awesome Furahi day.