02 Feb ART STUDENTS – MOYO IYANALU-BRIGGS
Tell us about your background?
Moyo Iyanalu-Briggs: I’m from Lagos, I attended primary and secondary school in Lagos, then I moved to London 4 years ago, because my parents already lived here. I’m currently studying Photography at London College of Communication.
What drew you to pursue an art degree?
MIB: In school in Nigeria, while I was still studying Sciences I started getting into Japanese photography and I was introduced to this world of Japanese war photographers. From there I started taking pictures in school and started a photography club in school. I was president of the club and I’d shoot all the school events. From there I kind of realised that I could do this for the rest of my life. But, as a Nigerian, taking up something like photography your future is not guaranteed, everybody is going to discourage you against doing it. But, I was passionate about it and so I chose to pursue it.
What was your parents’ reaction to your decision?
MIB: I’m kind of lucky because my mum is an artist but her situation was that she was an artist but she became a computer engineer. My dad is an artist who became an architect. So, technically art has always been a part of my life. So, because Engineering had been a dream for me for so long, they were just surprised that I changed my dream but still supportive. I was lucky which is very rare as a Nigerian to have parents who support you with your art. That does not happen at all.
Do you think there is a stigma around pursuing an art degree in the Afro-Caribbean society?
MIB: Yes. I don’t know why. I don’t know where is stems from. I mean it’s probably because of the idea of the starving artist. A lot of people pursue careers in art and don’t become successful, it’s almost a one in a hundred kind of thing. You need lots of doctors, and Engineers, so there is money in those fields and your parents will obviously push you towards that. With something like art, it could take you twenty years to become successful and I guess Nigerian parents don’t want their kids to struggle, but the way they approach that is harsh. It’s just the way they handle it: instead of explaining to you that they don’t want you to suffer or struggle they just tell you what to go for, they don’t care if you’ll be happy, they just want you to be successful. Over the years that has reduced the importance of art in a way.
Do you have any fears it won’t be viable financially?
MIB: Yeah, definitely. Especially now that I’m here in the U.K. I almost didn’t want to go to university because of student debt and the fact that I’m doing an art degree and I’m going to be in debt for studying something like photography. I was having doubts. It would make more sense for me to be in debt with a degree in Law or Engineering because at least I know I could get a job after university and have a stable salary. I don’t really worry about the money now, but it’s mostly because of my view on life. For me, we are all going to die in the end so you might as well do what you want to do. Money doesn’t matter if you’re dead.
Which of your pieces are you most proud of?
MIB: That’s really tough. I have a recent series I just shot with a girl named Biba, and I shot the entire thing in colour which I have only just started doing because I’d only ever shot in black and white. I’m really proud of how the photos came out because I used Photoshop which I’ve only started using this year and the pictures came out really good.
What would you say to someone who is considering pursuing an art degree but is afraid?
MIB: Go for it. Even in high school when I was changing my subjects I tried to take as many people with me, asking them are you sure you want to be a doctor? If not come starve with me. Jokes aside I would definitely say go for it because life is too short for you to do something you don’t want to do. You can’t live your life doing what your parents want, it might seem like it’s coming from a good place but if it’s not what you want to do you’re going to be unhappy for the rest of your life.
Here are some of Moyo’s pieces: