400-level Medicine & Surgery
University of Ibadan
Could you tell us a little about Fola David?
Fola David is a medical doctor, a visual artist, Nigeria’s foremost speed-painter and a humanitarian.
What has your journey been like, so far? Why art? Who or what influenced you?
Art comes naturally to me; there was no way to avoid it. I’ve always been creative and could draw well from childhood, but I started art professionally in medical school. There was no influence in starting up my art as a profession and I am self–taught. During my journey as an artist, I have met and been opportune to work with a diverse range of artists and this has shaped the build-up of my art form as a visual artist.
I am also a speed-painter and I have taken speed-painting to heights and levels that no one thought possible. This form of art and entertainment is very technical and not many people can achieve it, but I try to encourage more people to take it up as it is an amazing form of self-expression and very lucrative.
It’s quite something doing all that while studying medicine. What was it like, your journey through medical school? Did you find it constraining for the exhibition of your art? For starters, where did you finish from?
I finished from the prestigious University of Lagos. Medical school was where my journey as an artist started. The major task was finding a way to maintain my presence in medical school, in the art world and in the entertainment scene as a speed-painter; and that meant planning, down to every minute of my day. It was quite tricky sometimes but knowing well how to prioritise really helped me pull through successfully.
I wonder, is the life of an artist lonely? How do you usually address such feeling?
It is a misconception that artists are lonely. I think being in our space and creating makes for a very crowded and busy world, even when the artist is the only one present in that world. The amount of dedication and passion put into a piece or project takes you on a journey that transcends loneliness or feelings of that sort. There is a deeper form of connection and lifestyle to being an artist—for me, it is a whole other level.
I am also a medical doctor, which further depletes time that I have to interact with people. Speed-painting for me is a form of escape; it is an entertaining form of art and I get to interact directly with thousands of people at once.
I guess we can’t speak of loneliness when one is filled with so much passion and has found an outlet for it. Professionally, what’s your goal as an artist?
To keep on creating and earning as an artist is paramount. I also want to continue being a voice for others, to influence and inspire everyone around me especially those struggling in life. I try to make sure that I am a strong example to everyone that having a career and a passion is possible, as I did with medicine and art.
Speaking of medicine, you’ve just come into your own in that revered profession. What comes next with that career choice?
My next step as a medical doctor is furthering my career and taking it to the highest peak possible.
That is the goal. Could you describe a real-life situation that inspired you in your art? What else inspires you: food, drink, music?
I love music of any type. Music is my energy source and it is always so loud in my studio when I am creating!
Haha, music does have a way of putting one in the zone. What’s the strongest memory of your childhood concerning art?
Hmm, my childhood is like a blur especially when it comes to art. I only fully remember academic exploits, which were like a major focus for me back then. As a child, I was involved in everything: I was very inquisitive and a voracious reader; I was also a painter, a pencil artist and loved clay works and papier-mâché. I didn’t know being an artist was an actual profession.
Having come a long way from those early days, what is your dream project?
Using art to address key issues in Public Health, and creating art as a form of healing or part of the healing process.
Wow. A doctor, an artist, a humanitarian, and much more… How do you handle everything?
Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Each day just goes by with more done and a lot more to do. Proper planning is the key for me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Do not be afraid to start.
Simple and yet cannot be overemphasized. And how would you now advice medical students who have a love for fields other than medicine?
Do not be limited by medical school. Do not be afraid to step out and explore—it’s a magical world out there.
Alright, the last question, please. What’s your favourite artwork?
Every new work I create becomes my favourite.
Thank you, Dr. David. This has been a pleasure.
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