“I want every single wall in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large to have a touch of my hand”, Sarah Sanni.
Sarah Sanni through her brand Cera Cerni provides decorative services to homes, offices, hotels, schools and does other outdoor designs. Sarah Sanni grew up in the Northern part of Nigeria from where she developed a love for Laali. She started painting at the age of 7. Sarah Sanni studied Computer Science at the University of Benin. However, Sarah Sanni began painting officially after quitting her programming job. A job she left because she couldn’t find fulfilment.
In 2017, Sarah Sanni won ₦500,000.00 from Toke Makinwa’s On Becoming Empowered Campaign. In this exclusive interview, Sarah Sanni talked about how she began painting, the logistics involved and her plans to hand down her knowledge. Have fun…
VUN: Talk about your background and how you got into painting.
Sarah: I was born in the north and I liked the Laali (a temporary henna tattoo used to adorn brides popular in the Northern part of Nigeria). I repeatedly drew the patterns, then moved on to cartoon drawings from my storybooks.
VUN: At what point did you decide to become a muralist and what inspired it?
Sarah: After I resigned from my programming job because I wasn’t finding fulfilment. I was still job hunting and on one very good day, I decided to design the walls in my room. My friend saw it and requested for same. Then she took a picture and posted it online and two of her friends instantly requested for the drawings and I charged for it and that was when I decided that I could make money from drawing.
VUN: What is distinct about your paintings?
Sarah: I think every artist is unique in his or her own way. What I try to do is satisfy my clients. The nature of my job (mural) is a decorative painting. So, when a client has a particular image in mind; I try to represent it the way they want it. And, sometimes better.
VUN: Why decide to make art on such a massive scale given the troubles involved?
Sarah: I wasn’t thinking about the troubles. I was looking for how to solve a problem which is, “for every wall that needs design – should never be left blank!”
VUN: What processes are involved in making the murals? The process here is the logistics involved, the mental and emotional processes.
Sarah: Well, I sometimes don’t sleep before I embark on a job. It’s just a way my mind deals with the emotions involved. While the logistics require going to the art market to purchase all items needed for the job.
VUN: How do you develop your craft?
Sarah: For you to be the best at what you do; you need to practice for at least 6 hours daily. Fortunately, I’m on a job every day which is like practice, it gives me the edge to master my craft even while on the job.
VUN: How do you seek job opportunities?
Sarah: One good job brings in more. I give my best to every job I do; I post them online, and I also get referrals.
VUN: How do you price your work?
Sarah: Different artwork comes with different complexity hence the price isn’t fixed.
VUN: How is your art influenced by the situation of things in Nigeria?
Sarah: We go through a lot in this country already. From the bad roads to the epileptic power supply, beautifying walls around us is a way of making the environment bearable. Which is what I’m dedicated to doing.
VUN: What current art trends do you follow and how do they influence your craft?
VUN: What do you aim to achieve with your arts?
Sarah: I want every single wall in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large to have a touch of my hand. I just want to make the world we live in more beautiful in the best way I can.
VUN: You recently recruited some staff. How do you aim to ensure that whatsoever art they make is not short of clients expectations?
Sarah: I’ll be working closely with them so they can understand my style of painting and get something close to it even if not exact. The aim is to satisfy the client at all cost.
VUN: Who are your biggest influences?
Sarah: Every artist is an influencer. But, I really like Kelvin from Miami, Marcello Barenghi from Italy, they make really beautiful works of art.
VUN: Murals aren’t a popular thing in Nigeria. I’m sure a lot of people may want to learn from you. What are your plans to hand down the knowledge?
Sarah: I intend to have a training school or a centre where people can enrol and I can teach them all I know. The goal is to make the world beautiful even while tending to clients need.
VUN: Asides from size, what techniques implored in making murals set them apart from other forms of painting?
Sarah: It’s directly on the wall, it’s immovable, it’s limitless. No boundaries, no frames. Just walls.
VUN: What is your normal day like?
Sarah: I wake up and head for a meeting, or head to the art market for purchase or head to the site for the paint job. I’m on the job till late evening and I head back home. I watch movies and then talk to God when it’s all calm.
VUN: What advice would you give people who are inspiring to be muralists?
Sarah: Consistency is key. Choose your path and let people know you for that particular duty. Strife to be the best at it and you’ll be the number one to be recommended for a job. Put God in all your endeavours.