By Rebecca - 18th September 2020
Paul Ifeneziuche: "Be yourself. That is it."
Anyone can hold a smartphone or a camera, and take photographs and videos with the ease of a click. With the advent of increasingly sophisticated technology and social media, this ability has been highlighted — and commercialised — to an unprecedented extent. However, the true skill lies in conveying more than a thousand words with a single image. Sometimes, it is a self-portrait in the flash of a camera lens.
Paul Ifeneziuche, a 22-year-old visual creative, aims to emphasise stories and individuals behind everything he does. Born and bred in South London, he holds a degree in Advertising and Brand Design from Ravensbourne University London. Despite being a recent graduate, his numerous accolades in the industry include collaborations with Apple UK, Equate Magazine, Boiler Room, and the O2 Arena, to name but a few. The power of simplicity is at the core of what he creates; aesthetically, his work has a minimalist feel, with a focus on evocation through contrast, shadows, and colour.
“Growing up in South London, to society I am labelled as a thug, troublemaker or pretty much just another black youth who is at a disadvantage because of where he comes from.”
Many of his photography and videography projects incorporate a diverse range of styles and faces, and revolve around representations of identity, empowerment, and his own personal ethos. Although his family had initially expressed doubts in his choice of career, Paul has realised that — through his art — there are more opportunities in life than what convention might lead one to believe, and that the first step has to be taken in the pursuit of one’s passions.
When asked for a favourite quote, or advice for fellow creatives, Paul recalls a quote from one of his secondary school teachers, one that has stayed with him since: “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started in order to be great”. Having been most recently featured as a main guest on the first online edition of the popular Late at Tate Britain series of events, Paul’s ongoing journey as an artist certainly lives up to that adage.
Join us for an exclusive Q&A with Paul, where the creative discusses his growth in his field and the importance of his chosen community, both personally and professionally.
How did you become comfortable with your own creative eye to be confident in your art?
Ooooopppphhhh, that’s a tricky one. It should’ve started from within me, but people around me used to influence me a lot. Seeing and hearing people compliment your work is actually such a boost
How did you build your skillset? Did you pursue an education in this creative field?
Everything is self-taught... okay I lied, I learned from my friends. My friend Aiah taught me how to properly use a camera and compose my photography, [and] my friend Whitney introduced me to Photoshop in my first year of college, Premier Pro, too. I guess the rest is from YouTube videos. My pursuit to become a creative began in college, I studied media, photography and sociology. I enjoyed them all, but my heart was in media, that’s where I made my first magazine and “horror film trailer” — that we shall never speak of.
Looking back over your life, what have been other pivotal moments where, looking back on them now, you understand that they shaped who you are today?
I guess when I came out to my mum that I wanted to be a creative and study something creative in university. A lot of discouragement and doubts came from that day, and still follow me today, but it pushes me to be the best version of who I am — just to prove that I’m not doing this as a joke, but to actually make a name for myself.
“I just feel like creatives of colour should not be celebrated occasionally but always, even for the small things."
Who were pivotal people in your life that saw you creatively before you maybe, saw yourself?
We used to rent a room in our house to a girl named Iris and she was like an interior designer I think or something like that, I didn’t see much of her work but the way she spoke about herself and her work was so encouraging and impactful to me. In a sense that I should take pride in whatever I want to pursue.
What does feeling seen mean to you?
Being recognised by the work you have done or being able to relate to someone because you’ve experienced what they have experienced, you kind of become one.
As a person of colour, how do you see the energy evolving for creators of colour within the industry?
I definitely see the energy evolving. HOWEVERRR it only shifts once in a while like when black history month comes around everyone seems to be for “people of colour” but when that month passes everything gets quiet again. I just feel like creatives of colour should not be celebrated occasionally but always, even for the small things
Besides you being an artist, are there other moments when you look back over your life that were critical for shaping you into the person you are today, personally and professionally?
I guess growing up in South West London. In short, I was never interested in being a part of the gang culture, or clout culture, or whatever negative label people had [for] boys who grew up around my ends. I just wanted to be an ordinary kid who had no beef with anyone, or [didn’t try to] look cool for others. There was more to life than all that.
Are you actively involved in a community or movement you care about? If so, how're you making an impact?
I am a part of a collective called NUFF SAID, and what we do is try to push diversity into the creative industry that we are going to enter soon. Our aim is to really get these agencies to stop preaching ‘diversity this’ and ‘diversity that,’ and to not only tick boxes, but to genuinely hire quality artists and creative people of colour. FOLLOW US ON NUFFSAID_LDN
What is the legacy that you're trying to build? And what do you hope to leave behind with your work?
I haven’t really thought about it too much, sorry I know it’s boring. I know I’d leave something behind. Hopefully inspiration will be one of those things, but other than that, I guess we’ll see.