Interview with Richard Kuria – Artist in Eldoret, Kenya

Richard KuriaRichard Kuria is an painter and pencil sketch artist living in Eldoret, Kenya. He is currently studying at the Moi University in Eldoret, doing a BSc. in Project Planning and Management.

You can connect with Richard on Facebook or by phone at +254-725-357-241.

ExtraImaginary: Please give us a background of yourself and your journey in art.

Richard Kuria: My name is Kuria Richard Njogu, currently living in Eldoret. I grew up in Bungoma, Western Kenya. I attended a private school there called Marell Academy, where I was first introduced to art. Back then, I mostly drew cartoons. I enjoyed the attention I got from the other students, about how good I was. I was never serious about art, not until I joined High School, (Booker Academy, Mumias), when doing Art and Design, where I really discovered my love for it. I got recognized as a talented artist, through winning awards or when it came to people talking about my art.

Richard Kuria ArtAfter high in 2010, I needed to make some money. I met a guy, now a really good friend of mine, living in Bungoma, called Joshua (Josh), a great artist. He introduced me to the painting and framing technique displayed below. Working with him taught me a lot, and in the end, I got to make money from the pieces we sold. Unfortunately, people want the cheapest thing they can get, thus it was very hard to sell the pieces at high prices, but what I learnt from my time with him, was priceless.

Richard Kuria ArtAlso during that time, I got interested in doing portraits, specifically pencil portraits. I got in love with it and wanted to do it all the time. I did not have anyone to teach me, so I spent a lot of time, looking at other artists work in the internet. I got some tips here and there and developed my own techniques and tricks along the way, and with every portrait I did I got a little better. I have been doing commissions since 2011 and I have done work for people all over the country.

Currently I work as a freelance artist, which is a good choice for me, because the operating costs are typically low. I am also working on turning my love for art into a career, and exhibiting my works in galleries.

I strive to produce the best portrait drawings I can, making them as realistic as I possibly can.

ExtraImaginary: You use different media for your art. Tell us about each and how you decide which media you use for a new project.

Richard Kuria: I will start with the paintings.

Richard Kuria ArtArt is all about creativity, and working with what you have. Trees are all around us, and its a matter of finding the right branch to work with for the framing. We also did not have canvas to paint on, so we recycled used up shirts and sheets and stretched them over the frame. To make them hard enough, we painted over them with water paint, the kind used on walls. We generally used oil paints on the ‘canvas’, to come up with the paintings. Some pieces featured actual objects, like guards, baskets, cut in half and attached on the ‘canvas’ to give the piece a sort of 3D aspect … they look amazing!!

For the pencil portraits:

I don’t know much about the different types of papers available, but I personally prefer SMOOTH. I use normal paper, either A4 size or A3 size. For pencils, I have tried many types, but I now ONLY use Staedtler tradition 2B-6B pencils (Made in Germany). The results I get from them are very good. I also use some tissue paper and erasers.

ExtraImaginary: What is your main source of inspiration?

Richard Kuria: I get a lot of inspiration from the work of other artists, and I strive to be a professional artist and produce works that others will look up to. I love music, and I derive a lot of inspiration from it. I listen to a lot of Soul, Roots reggae and some Soukous. My friends say they are old people music, but what do they know?

ExtraImaginary: You do a lot of portraits. How do you decide whom to draw portraits of?

Richard Kuria ArtRichard Kuria: I work from photos that I get, whether it is a commission or my own personal work, and the most important thing is the clarity of the photo. I choose photos with a lot to work with, that clearly show the distinctive features of a person. For my own drawings, I look for common faces, whether its movie actors or musicians, someone anyone can readily identify with. It helps a lot with advertising my work, because someone is able to see just how good I am.

ExtraImaginary: Who are your favorite artists?

Richard Kuria: Some graphite pencil artists I really admire are, Raj Singh Tattal (Pen’Tacular-Artist), Kelvin Okafor, Rick Fortson (Rick-Kills-Pencils), Linda Huber, Theophilus Boateng Kwaku (Theo Pencil) and Chukwuka O. Abraham. Their work is amazing and I can definitely relate to them.
I strongly urge you to look them up.

ExtraImaginary: What do you want to communicate through your art?

Richard Kuria ArtRichard Kuria: Art is about talent, creativity and skills. They have to be refined to a point where the pieces of work are worth selling. Making a good product and doing it consistently will make sure you have a market for your product.

Another thing, be unique. You don’t need to purchase expensive materials for you to come up with good work. It’s a matter of looking for what you can use to your advantage. Look around!! Be weird!!

ExtraImaginary: What are your goals in regards to your art?

Richard Kuria: My goals are to create more awareness about the worth and value of art, especially here in Eldoret. I believe there is a lot of potential. I believe I can do this by gathering other artists in the local area, and working together to open a gallery, a co-op studio or an agency, allowing us to collectively market our art to customers both locally and in other areas.

ExtraImaginary: What is your most memorable moment as an artist?

Richard Kuria: I don’t think I have a MOST memorable moment. Every time I finish a work of art, I always take a long moment and stare at it. Sometimes it even scares me I can produce such good work. Those are my memorable moments as an artist.

ExtraImaginary: Is there anything else that you would like people to know about you?

Richard Kuria: I am currently a Moi University student, Eldoret, doing BSc. in Project Planning and Management. I am 21 years old, birthday is at 22nd November.

Favorite movies; Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Sherlock and a lot of comedy … (they are good for my soul)

Favorite food: Nyama Choma (Meat) and a lot of carrots.

ExtraImaginary: Thanks for sharing with us Richard and Good Luck for the future.

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