Born 1st November 1985 in London, UK.
Studied a Foundation course in Art & Design at City & Guilds Art School and a graduate from Middlesex University with a B.A. (Hon)s in Fine Art.
From as early as he could remember, Kelvin Okafor has always been an emotional and highly sensitive individual. Inspired, touched and captivated by almost everything in his immediate surroundings. Around the age of 8, Okafor vividly remembers having a love and strong fascination for drawing with pencils. He found the instrument to be a humble one and would often use the expression 'aliveness' to describe it's technical and sentimental value. What fascinated him most about pencils was that with single shades of lead, he could create tones and textures so defined and so abstract, an illusion of colour would be formed before him. He became heavily inspired by this notion and spent most of his early years trying to utilise its technical use.
The style in which Okafor creates his portraits is known as Hyper-realism. Art Critic, Estelle Lovatt describes his work as 'Emotional Realism'. She mentions how the work of Okafor goes beyond being just ‘Photorealist’ drawings, and instead coins the term Emotional Realism to describe the affective nature of his artwork.
Ultimately, Okafor intends to create art that prompts an emotional response to viewers. A response that arouses the feelings of enchantment, reflection, stillness and awareness.
"I love to draw faces. Each face to me tells an intriguing story regardless of age, gender, race or background. In the process of putting pencil to paper, I begin by drawing in sections/stages. Since I was a child I have always created drawings this way. I visually dissect facial features - I study them and then I put them back together like pieces in a puzzle. This method of creating helps me understand expressions and also helps me appreciate the lengthy process each portrait drawing takes.
I feel a greater connection meeting and getting to know the sitter before drawing a portrait of them. I spend hours and most times days intensely studying the sitter before starting a drawing of them. In the beginning process of familiarising myself with the sitter, I make rough sketches and take pictures from various angles for reference. From dreaming in detail to visualising the drawing process from start to finish. In that period of time, a connective feeling of ’oneness’ is formed with the sitter and I. After this seemingly laborious style of practice, the image of the sitter becomes somewhat embedded in my subconscious - in turn, enabling me the technical ability to draw proportions to a fair degree of accuracy, and at times, mostly from memory.
The essence of my art is not to just reproduce or make a replica of a visual image but to capture an honest expression which has a narrative. On average, each drawing takes around 100 hours to complete. Whilst capturing and studying a subject model from life, It’s of absolute importance to me that they are in an environment they feel most comfortable in. From experience, I have found that comfort and familiarity to a sitter’s surroundings helps with them expressing themselves more naturally and openly."