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You_See_Arts, a company that specialises in handmade fabric design, weaving and pencil drawing, is making good its promise of taking textile art to the next level, in line with its tagline, ‘Textile beyond Clothing.’ The company’s Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director, Teslim Yusirat Adebusayo, says she uses fabrics and wool to create portraitures and by so doing, documents human history through arts. She shares her plans to groom You_See_Arts studio into an art hub with Assistant Editor CHIKODI OKEREOCHA.
She knew what she wanted from the outset, and wasted no time in pursuing her dream of becoming a renowned textile artist. Despite being a science student in her secondary school days, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Creative Director, You_See_Arts, a company that specialises in handmade fabric design, weaving and pencil drawing, Teslim Yusirat Adebusayo, had always loved art.
To demonstrate her passion for art, Yusirat went for a one-year art training at Royal Draw Galleria, Oke Ado, Ogbomoso, in Oyo State.
“I trained there a year before I was admitted to study Fine Art at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUCTECH). I combined the training with academics. That was my first exposure to art. I was a science student. It was during the training that I decided and concluded I wanted to study Fine Art,” she narrated.
According to Yusirat, who eventually earned a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in Fine and Applied Art in 2018, art was initially meant to be a vocational job to indulge in while she continued seeking for admission in the university.
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“I have always loved art, but I never knew people do it professionally. So, I am glad I did art, graduating as the best student in my department during my set,” she told The Nation.
After undergoing art signage and prints training before admission, Yusirat, upon graduation, chose to carve a niche for herself in textile art when she set up the business.
“I love art generally. However, I concentrate more on textile art,” she declared. Rather than have her finger in every pie in the art business, she chose to carve a niche for herself in textile art and become an expert in the field.
The textile art enthusiast said, for instance, that her woven art, which she dubbed Asoism, a style she experimented with in school and developed afterwards, bridges the gap of textile arts as a perishable art. “Textiles are mostly utility arts, majorly for clothing. However, I use fabrics and wool, which are textile materials, to create portraitures and by so doing, document human history through arts,” she explained.
Yusirat’s decision to specialise paid-off handsomely. Today, You_See_Arts, which she started in 2019, a year after graduating from the university, has claimed the number one spot in the provision of quality, durable and cost-effective textile art pieces. The company has managed to warm itself into the hearts of customers from far and near, creating top-notch fashion sketches, pencil and charcoal drawings, Adire fabrics and bespoke wears, woven artworks, mini-artworks for interiors, and customised patch bed set.
Enthusiastic, but an introvert of sort, 31-year-old Yusirat, from Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State, has in a remarkably short time positioned You_See_Arts as one to beat in the textile art space. Her thriving enterprise, located on 16, Okiki Street, Ago Palace Way, Okota, Lagos, has become the destination of choice for textile art lovers, both men and women. “I am sure my clients are satisfied. I get most of my orders from referrals,” she said, in response to the steady stream of customers coming her way.
Working with a team of three regular staff and a number of temporary workers, depending on the demand, the company has continued to churn out eye-popping textile art pieces.
“I am immensely grateful I can empower other people too,” she said, pointing out, however, that the level of patronage was sometimes low, compared to other businesses, as art is generally for the elite.
“Majority can simply not afford art,” she said.
But how does the Fine and Applied Artist, who also teaches art, get along under the low patronage that has hit virtually all businesses in Nigeria, sometimes forcing some of them to either wind up or switch to other businesses?
“I create pieces that everyone can afford so this can make my business grow. I also source for good quality materials, both local and imported fabrics, for my designs and I simply give my best creating a top-notch art,” she told The Nation.
Noting that art is an expression of the innermost mind, which makes all art pieces unique in their own way, the budding entrepreneur, however, said the quality of her fabrics and her attention to details in designing them gives her an edge in the fashion industry particularly in the area of textile art. “I create designs myself. I solely do the weaving. I only work with people on fabric,” she explained.
Yusirat, however, said one of the challenges she faces as a textile designer is the way people perceive handmade fabric such as Batik and Adire.
“Batik and Adire are seen as local and less valuable fabrics. However, these fabrics are art on their own, several hours of planning, drawing and designing go into the production of a Batik, for instance,” the entrepreneur, who organises private classes for students, both online and physical, said.
Despite the challenge of wrong perception, unstable patronage, which she described as “a setback for small businesses like mine,” the business woman is undeterred; she has refused to give up, but instead, kept her eyes on the ball.
“Our target is to groom You_See_Arts studio into an art hub, where I can teach Nigerian youths art. I also hope to project our product internationally; more so, create more awareness until average Nigerians can afford and have a You_See_Arts in their wardrobe and living rooms,” she said.
In setting such ambitious goals, Yusirat is banking on her wealth of experience in arts to achieve them. For instance, while at Royal Draw Gallery, between February 2010 and March 2017, she started as trainee but ended up training other employees. Working part time whilst studying, she learned about the role of marketing in business and how the marketing mix is used.
At the gallery, she also crafted and designed awards, created and imprinted sketches, writings, and designs on clothing materials, papers etc. She also designed inspiring representative art that maintained accurate scale and quality standard; created pieces of rough sketches and successfully created custom paintings.
Yusirat was also an intern at Femtex Fashion Design and Fabrics, Ogbomoso, from July – December 2015. There, she learnt actively on the job and maintained a continuous learning process during breaks in her undergraduate years.
It was at Femtexs that she had an in-depth understandi8ng of different kind of fabric, styling, ironing etc. She also had the opportunity of repairing defecting garments and analysing customers’ complaints and ensured alterations were made accordingly
Before then, the textile art impresario was into art freelancing. That was around March 2014. And that was when she became a fine art professional in media such as charcoals, textile, ink, wool, twine and fabric.
She mastered the art of sketching and crafting portraitures, painting and crafting canvas paintings, designed logos using Corel Draw and Photoshop, regularly interacting with clients to obtain feedback on product quality and service level, and creating and developing new fabric designs, among others.
Yusirat was also a Fine Art teacher in Enugu State, where she did her compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2018. While on the job, she developed and implemented teaching strategies, evaluated the success of individual students through key evaluating metrics and identified insights to drive increased performances.
Her quality and creative teaching techniques, as well as the use of instructional materials employed while carrying out her duties earned her outstanding commendations. Although, she hopes to draw strength from her feats in the industry to achieve her targets, Yusirat also said “Consistency and resilience are my watchwords. God blessings crown it all.”
She, therefore, encouraged young and upcoming artists to imbibe the virtue of consistency and resilience if they want to succeed in their chosen career. “I have never sent my Curriculum Vitae (CV) out in search of employment, because I believe so much in my dream to train people in arts,” she said, in justification of her decision to follow her dream.
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