Leila Okorie

October 12th, 2020


I feel like I have been floating in the experience of waiting my entire life. Waiting to get to middle school, waiting to get to high school, waiting to graduate, waiting to land a secure career path (which, I’m still currently juggling with). Time is so important to us as conscious beings. Each time the sun goes down, another wrinkle grows impatiently. Waiting is really all we have, as the act of waiting promises the destination of a goal. And without any goals, I think most people feel like they’re drifting through a vast void that mimics outer space itself. At least, that’s how it can feel to me, and that’s just from being ripped away from preexisting goals.

Before COVID, I started to fall in love with weightlifting, I felt my passion for art finally starting to pay off, and I had an art residency in Colorado and an art-focused study abroad trip to London and Amsterdam lined up for the following summer. That summer has come and gone, and I am still in Washington. In fact, I’m not even on campus. Before COVID, I was waiting for some of the most exciting events of my life. But, the world has grotesquely transformed, and suddenly I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Waiting, and watching a country erupt into madness, from my little corner of the world. I’m not much of a writer, but the point I’m attempting to make here is that we are all waiting for something, for as long as our hearts are beating and our minds are spinning. Whether we are waiting in anticipation, or in absolute dread, the fact we are waiting at all means there is room for hope, even if it’s only a sliver.

My Creative Process.

I’m really not sure what my creative process is like, which I guess is why it’s important to take a look at. Doing art is kind of like breathing for me. I say kind of, because while working on art, there is usually some sort of barrier or hiccup I have to work to overcome (such as something not looking right no matter how many times I redraw it). Breathing is usually a pretty mindless process on its own. But over the years, I’ve noticed that I usually fall into a lull when I am doing art. That is, if I’m not experiencing art block. However, regardless of how motivated I am to start drawing, once I start, it can be hard to stop. Sometimes I sit down to work, and suddenly I can’t be bothered to pull away for the bathroom, food, water, or sleep. In the past, I’ve worked on a piece for over 7 hours straight, without moving. This is not healthy! Please do not do this. Breaks are important for our fragile, mortal bodies. Being someone who wants to do art for a career, I’m still working on finding that balance of taking breaks and feeding the ravenous drive of art fever. This month in particular, I’ve been committing to Inktober, which is an internet art challenge. The challenge is to do a piece of art, based on the picked out prompts, every day of October. Haven’t missed a day so far, and I’ve been learning to appreciate even the drawings I like less than others. 

October 21, 2020


While I haven’t yet had the chance to explore specific themes and ideas that I’m interested in with art,  I have enjoyed drawing one thing the most almost my entire life; people. American school systems do not prioritize art at all, so I wasn’t able to fully focus on art in an academic sense until coming to university. Now that I’m in university, I’m busy doing specifically assigned homework, so I don’t have time yet to produce original art that is investigating something specific. However, that opportunity is coming up very soon. Regardless, people have always been what I loved to draw, and I believe there is reason for that besides simply being a fun thing for me to draw. In The Human body as Art, Ati Metwaly summarizes art centered around the human body as serving “a representation of its creator’s social and religious standards, it indicates cultural values, and above all: it symbolises absolute beauty” (Metwaly). I resonate with this a lot. Whenever I am drawing a portrait, or the human figure, I fall in love with all the little imperfections. Take in mind, that is not an insult. Imperfection is the essence of human beings, and it’s what makes people beautiful and unique. I think everyone can relate to the want to be attractive, but I have found that drawing people reminds me that even if you don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of absolute beauty in modern times, you are just as beautiful.

It’s quite hard explaining this to people who don’t do art, because it’s easy to come off as a creep. How do you explain to someone that accurately representing the way skin sags with age, the way fat folds onto itself, or the discoloration of tired eye bags is a fun thing for you? Still haven’t figured it out, but I stand my ground. There is something very intimate and genuine to me about drawing people, as the process represents finding beauty in the conventionally mundane, since we see people all around us on a daily. I could go on into the fallacy of beauty, the hold identity and self-image has on us as humans, and the importance of representation, but that would take a lot notebook space. While there are so many different routes you can take with drawing and painting people, and what it means, at the end of the day: we are vain creatures and like to look at each other. That’s my guess, anyways.

Works Cited

Metwaly, Ati. “The Human Body as Art – Visual Art – Arts & Culture.” Ahram Online, 9 Nov. 2010, english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/5/25/297/Arts–Culture/Visual-Art/The-Human-body-as-Art.aspx.

October 28, 2020


I’ve found, much like many others, that listening to music has become my sacred practice on a daily. Ever since I was young, I loved listening to music any time I did absolutely anything. For years, I would listen to music while cleaning, doing homework, on my way to school (or anywhere for that matter), while making art, while browsing Instagram, while working out, and sometimes when trying to fight anxiety so I can finally get some sleep. I don’t consider myself a good singer or dancer, but I love to do both. I played the saxophone in middle school, and I plan on picking up the electric guitar very soon. As a depressed preteen, blasting music in my headphones is what allowed me to ground myself, and my music is what brought me a lot of happiness in a time where even getting out of bed felt like a chore. Music has been an important factor in my life for as long as I could remember, and I’m very grateful for it, even if the headphone usage may have damaged my ears after all these years. I even associate certain genres of music with specific time periods in my life. Early 2000s R&B is ages 0-7, mostly due to my parents. Katy Perry, Beyonce, and Rhianna are ages 8-11, when I only listened to them because other kids my age did (yes, some of their songs are definitely good, but I didn’t feel super passionate about them). Ages 12-17 is K-Pop. This was the love of my life at the time, and the first time I could ever say I really had a favorite music artist. Wouldn’t change it for the world. Ages 18-present is Rock, Grunge, Indie, and Metal. Some of my favorite artists right now are The Smiths, The Cure, Slipknot, Alice in Chains, and The Deftones. Even though my music taste has changed, my attachment to it with everything I do is still the same. And, every once in a while I like to return to old genres I used to listen to, both for nostalgic reasons, and because good music is good music. When I have a choice in the matter, I don’t think there has been one time I have sat down to do art without listening to music. I think it puts me in that “lull” I mentioned earlier much faster, and gathers the sporadic nature of my mind. What a coincidence; an artist uses art to make the process of making art flow easier.


Perhaps this paragraph isn’t needed, because people already know about this, but I thought it would be good to add anyways. I think the feeling of uncertainty is a feeling that never leaves artists. Being in my last year of college, the future and how I’m going to swim with the sharks is a thought that crosses my mind quite often. Am I uncertain that I want to follow through with art as a career? Heck no. Am I uncertain about how I will manage to support myself as a professional artist in a society that highly values corporate employment? Yes. Absolutely. What’s more, it’s hard landing on the specific type of artistic career you’d like to stick to. No, you’re not forced to stick to one path, but it would probably make the whole “supporting yourself” thing much easier, fresh out of college. I’m shooting for the concept artist job title at the moment, but the thought of having my own original work displayed in museums and galleries is so exciting. And while I know independent, professional practicing artists DO in fact exist, the thought of being one right out of college is terrifying. It’s like trying to think of nothing. My brain just cannot connect the dots, and as a person who is tied to routine and security, it can be a bit worrisome. I don’t plan on giving up on the arts, and I’ll continue to flail around in the water for as long as I need to, but I’m also not afraid to admit how scary it can be when planning for a future in the arts. Sometimes I wish I would’ve been more into biology or psychology, or something, because it might’ve been an easier route to my career. But, 4 year old me was set on becoming an artist, so we will carry on for her, even if the road is scary.

November 5, 2020


Over the past month, I have been focused on Inktober. It is now November, and the art challenge has been completed! This means I can begin working on my next project. First, I want to focus on my goals for the feel of the artwork. Yes, I have specific reasons for pursuing my next project and specific themes I want to explore, but I think there is value in focusing on the emotion the paintings will give off. Explaining these emotions is not an easy thing, which is why I am turning to art to express them. Since this is my creative process journal, I’ll simply begin with word vomit, because why not. Some of the words that resemble the emotions and feelings I want to capture include: chaos, suffocation, constraint, vulnerable, nonsensical, unhinged, hopeless, dread, abandonment, and trauma. Before I reveal the specifics of the project, I want those feelings and emotions to simmer with the reader. All very human things to feel, but everyone has most likely felt each in a different way. I think emotions are very interesting things, especially as an individual who feels very connected to them. The way our physical body reacts to the synapses that are going off inside our head, regardless of if we’re aware of said synapses and their reasons, is so bizarre. I’ve always loved philosophy and psychology, so this next project might mark the beginnings of me bringing those subjects into my artwork. Overall, I want this next project to be very introspective, and I want the project to make my audience think. Not just think about the process of the project, and what I was thinking, but to also look within themselves and take a moment to reflect, as well.

November 12, 2020


When I think about what has influenced me and my artistic journey, my mind tends to turn up blank a lot. Yes, there have been people in my life who support me and my decision to pursue the arts as a profession, but I’d be more inclined to proclaim myself as my own giant. I’ve never had role model artists in my life, and I correct people when they call me talented. I didn’t get to where I am with luck, I practiced constantly and refined my skill to get here. My mother used to be a very skilled artist before I was born, but I have never seen any of her works, and she no longer makes art. My father believes I should do what I love, and he is a huge reason for why I’m getting my degree in fine arts in the first place. But, it was me who would spend hours drawing in between math and english homework. It was me, who looked up tutorials and videos online about how to draw. It was me, who made the decision not to abandon my passion for making art. My influences came from the media I consumed. Anime, tv shows, movies, video games, music, and the internet in general, are where I’ve always gotten the most inspiration from. Now that I’m older, I find inspiration within myself and my life experiences as well. It’s always been quite awkward, often being the only artist in the room who doesn’t have designated artists as role models or inspiration. However, I think of it as me carving out my own path in the hard ground with determination, and I hope its a trait I can keep forever.

November 25, 2020


Being an artist who dabbles in both traditional and digital art, there is a distinct separation between the two that I have discovered. Often times, digital art is not seen as real art, as if it doesn’t count because it was done with technology. Even replicating digital art on paper can be looked down upon by some people. Though this never happened to me, many kids in grade school are ridiculed by their art teachers for drawing anime characters, because “anime isn’t real art”. I think this is a closed off way of viewing art, and mimics those who frowned upon abstract artists in the 40s and 50s. Drawing anime characters is where I started as a young artist, and taught me a lot. Even now, as an adult, I’m never quite sure where to fit in my digital art. Most of the time, I turn to digital art when I want to make art that isn’t an assignment. I love to paint portraits of people, and draw fanart and characters from my own imagination as well. While I value those artworks as much as my traditional artwork, it doesn’t have much place in my current schooling. Going to UW for a degree in fine art, my main focus is in the traditional arts. However, the job I’m looking to get out of college is much more digital. In my mind, the degree is posing as a strong foundation for my skill as an artist overall. Many of my digital artworks have taken me 3-12 hours total. At first glance, it may seem easier than traditional art, when really it’s simply difficult in a different way. Growing up in a very technologically driven world, it’s hard finding footing as an artist when one foot is in the old school way of art and the other is in the modern way.


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Leila Okorie by Timea Tihanyi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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