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Meet Jacqueline Suowari

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqueline Suowari.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born with art. It’s like an application that has always been running in my system. As soon as I could scribble as a toddler, I began to draw. Thank God my mum encouraged me by always buying crayons and paper; she even created my very own drawing portfolio where she religiously stored my drawings and paintings. When I got older, I quickly realized that this (Art) was something I wanted to do.

I really love to draw and I am ever fascinated by lines/strokes and the contrast of shading. As a teenager, I did a lot of ballpoint pen drawings and though I did them with blue instead of black, I always loved the contrast. I quickly realized that the ballpoint pen wasn’t a traditional art media for drawing when I got into the University to study art, so, I abandoned it for pastels and charcoal pencils. I found the contrast from charcoal pencils quite satisfying but it always blurred up my strokes/lines. One day in 2011, while creating new drawings for an exhibition I decided to try out a black ballpoint pen and the final result was amazing. I loved the contrast and I loved the clarity of the strokes. I had finally found a complete way to express my passion…I was finally content with a medium.

As you probably can tell, I majored in painting. I was painting traditionally for about four years after Art school but I wasn’t quite satisfied. First of all, painting didn’t have the kind of strokes I liked. Secondly, the contrast in coloured painting was never enough for me and thirdly, I needed to create a style that “ministered to me” (for lack of a better expression). Finding solutions to my dissatisfactions through processes of experimentation led me here; this place where I now identify as a Ballpoint Artist.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Choosing to study art in a country where Art was seen as a path with no future financial gains already come’s with its own complexities. I was the child who people would worry about and give “logical” advice about how my decision to be an artist wasn’t feasible or sustainable in the long run.

As time went by, Art began to gain some recognition in Nigeria, especially in Lagos. So, some people became quite accepting of my path and started rooting for me to become an awesome painter. Imagine their shock and dismay when I decided to abandon “Traditional Painting”, a path that had gained acceptance and a following for Ballpoint drawing; A path nobody was sure about.

I got a lot of “reasonable” advice from senior colleagues and friends, mostly telling me to relegate the drawing to the background and take up traditional painting as a major. “Nobody buys drawings” they would say. But my heart spoke a different language. Each time I drew a new piece, I wanted more. So, I stuck to drawing.

It took a while for my work to be appreciated here in Nigeria but like one collector said “It grows on you”.

Internationally, it’s been overwhelming the way my work is received. Every other day I get messages on Instagram from people in different parts of the world telling me how I touched their lives and strengthen their resolves with my work.

My journey hasn’t been an easy one but I am grateful for every moment of it.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a full-time studio artist currently specializing in Ballpoint Pen drawing. My foray into art started from the early age of five. I am motivated by the power inherent in the intriguing art of drawing. The thousands of ballpoint pen strokes which make up every single piece of my work, reveal the countless hours which it takes to achieve perfection in my eyes, with a single piece sometimes taking several months to complete. In each painting, I combine various elements of design to share my experiences and inspiration with the viewers. In a sense, I am tasking the viewers mind, making them ask and answer questions that create a dialogue between their own stories and that of the person in my work.

Jacqueline Suowari has participated in several group exhibitions locally and internationally. She has been featured in notable domestic publications including Chukwuemeka Ben Bosah’s book “The Art of Nigerian Women”, which chronicles some of the best artists Nigeria has to offer. Jacqueline is currently represented by Avant Gallery in the United States of America.

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Instagram: @jacquelinesuowari
  • Facebook: The Art of Jacqueline Suowari

Image Credit:
“A Garland will fix it” and “Love over rules” original reference photo by Sir Dex R Jones. “Ifechkwude”original reference photo by Promosbymichelle. “Bin Dunmuo Tua Owei” original reference photo by Anny Robert Photography, Portrait of Aarbenco Aigbe. “Shakara”, original reference photo by Musa Tukura photography. “Of Burden’s and Triumphs” original reference photo by Jasminder Oberoi.

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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