• Friday, March 01, 2024
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‘Nigerian arts command competitive prices home and abroad’


John Madu, young entrepreneur, visual artist/art director, Artandmuses and Co. speaks on how his firm’s upcoming art exhibition in September will affect the elites, the underprivileged, corporate and other organisations in this interview with OLUYINKA ALAWODE.


Artandmuses and Co. represents my brand as an artist, our interests are in commercialising art, which involves the business knowledge of selling original contemporary art and prints for home fabrics within Nigeria and abroad. We also do art consulting and dealership in antiquities.

Starting out

I started professionally November 30, 2008 even though I have always been interested in art and fashion since childhood. I attended painting competitions and seminars, but I never thought of painting professionally until I noticed the surge of interests in artworks from certain expatriates and indigenous collectors of African contemporary art, as well as the competitive prices Nigerian arts were commanding in auction houses home and abroad. So, I decided to study more and involve myself in learning the business.

The growing enthusiasm for arts in general is a testament to the increasing positive light in which our local art is being viewed and of collectors’ willingness to invest their resources in art as intellectual property.

I have since started selling my paintings and that of other artists. I also deal in very old artworks.  I guess my main spur into the business was when I was a vendor of one of the oldest Nigerian paintings from 1922 by Aina Onabolu, sold at an auction.

My own paintings can now be found in private collections, galleries in Lagos Nigeria, Canada and France.

Startup funds

My sister bought me my first materials to paint with, and my friends were also helpful in setting up of the business because they wanted me to pursue my career in art.

I have received support from certain organisations mostly in terms of providing platforms to showcase and exhibit, opportunities to teach and organise art and craft events for children and upcoming artists as well, avenues for art discussions and readings with professionals.

These platforms and leverage have improved my network base and increased my knowledge in the business angle of aesthetics. My art pieces have aesthetic value, as well as intellectual property and they are exportable material for business.

Target clients

My target include people who like beauty and aesthetics, interior decorators, advertising professionals, art enthusiasts, patrons and professionals in other industries who know the value of art as intellectual property.


The difficulty in accessing certain materials for proper standard production and, adequate funding to create monumental masterpieces for public viewing are some of the challenges.

Upcoming exhibition

My upcoming exhibition is an exhibition of paintings with the theme ‘Morphogenesis,’ which discusses man as an organism and the way he relates to his environment and the effects his environment has on him. This will create an avenue for young creative people to build their brands and to network with collectors, industry professionals and corporate organisations. The exhibition is holding September 12, this year at Didi Museum Victoria Island, Lagos


Part of the proceeds from the sales of the paintings will be channeled through ‘Earth Haven’ an NGO aiding underprivileged girls from the Makoko slum, by empowering them through art and craft training by professionals, and providing assistance in sales of the artwork they produce.


The exhibition is opened to art lovers, industry professionals, corporate organisations, collectors. It aims at invoking the interest of patrons, collectors, and art enthusiasts to a shift in more recent forms of expression, and also initiating young and upcoming collectors and enthusiasts to understand the collection of art as intellectual property.


Attendees and participants would get more educated and informed on new forms of art and the development of the practice, they will build media relations and network with industry professionals. There will also be direct sales to collectors and building of customer database.

For the attendees it is a free entry exhibition with live entertainment, music from a violinist, refreshments and networking opportunities while enjoying beauty of art

Desired partnerships/support

I look forward to financial investment from corporate and/or other organisations and opportunities to get my merchandise on the platforms of interested partnering organisation.

Connoisseurs, who are customers that buy and sell artworks, are mostly people who are well travelled and art is seen as an avenue for the elite to unwind. These are the caliber of people who will get to relate to the services of organisations that choose to get involved or partner with my business.

Partnering organisations will also be in the spotlight as being involved in the development of child education and growth.

Their products and/or service will get more visibility and mileage. It will enhance their corporate social responsibility, promote their brand awareness and they will also receive donation of artistic materials


I have a B.Sc. in policy and strategic studies from Covenant University, I have worked as an art director, and project manager after my NYSC days.


The people that work with me work as interns to understand their trade and acquire more skills.

Government support

I think the government authorities should be aware of the changing trends in business practices so as to implement policies that would be favourable to the key players of these businesses.


Young entrepreneurs need to be knowledgeable about their particular business and to consider the environment as a factor in the success of such businesses.