Though Kareem Waris Olamilekan (known also as Waspa) describes himself as a “bitty artist,” his dreams are anything but small. At just 11 years old, the talented Nigerian artist has already attracted international attention and set a big goal for himself: to see his amazing lifelike portraits on the walls of a museum.
Olamilekan crafts realistic and hyperrealistic portrayals of his friends, family, and other figures. Each piece is full of detail and packed with personality, demonstrating talent far beyond his years and reflecting the approach of his two artistic idols: fellow Nigerian portraitist Arinze Stanley and Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo.
Like Stanley, most of Olamilekan's portraits are completed in pencil. However, he also dabbles in other mediums, including paint, pastel, and even ballpoint pen. Similarly, he also explores subjects beyond portraiture. “I draw cartoons, comics,” he tells BBC Africa's What's New program. “I draw illustrations from textbooks and newspapers.”
Fortunately, we can expect to see more from this pint-sized prodigy, as he appears wholly dedicated to making his museum dreams a reality. “Art is my calling,” he says on his Instagram page. “It's in me.”
Hear him discuss his dreams in this short video from BBC Africa.
Kareem Waris Olamilekan: Instagram