Toyin Sokefun Bello returned to work in Nigeria in 2015 after nearly a decade in the US. Since then she has quickly captured the attention and regained the respect of the Nigerian fashion industry with her superior editorials and art direction, and of course the story of Olajumoke.
We tracked TY Bello down at the just concluded Nigerian Entertainment Conference and asked a few questions about her work and opinions on new media.
Unlike most Nigerian fashion photographers, you’ve always had a large platform, ‘ThisDay Style’ where you could put your work, your editorials and photography generally. How important is it to have a platform as an emerging photographer?
It’s hard to believe, but I got the opportunity to work with This Day Style via social media. Sixteen years ago when I started, there were simply no platforms to show your work. Unless you had an actual physical photo exhibition or decided to show as part of a collective, no one would get to see your work. Now the world has changed, you can show your work on Instagram or Twitter, platforms that allow you reach millions with your work. We almost take it for granted, but as someone who lived through that transition, it is revolutionary.
I am proud however to be one of the inaugural contributors to This Day Style, it’s pretty much a family that I belong to at this point. Makes me proud to see it grow this much.
It’s great that you bring up new media, because a while ago, the Lagos Fashion and Design Week held the Fashion Business Series, a forum on advancing the Nigerian Fashion Industry through manufacturing. One of their panels was a media panel on communicating fashion. It was interesting to see that they did not have a new media practitioner on the panel. It almost felt like that they weren’t ready to acknowledge the work new media is doing.
So what do you think about the dichotomy of traditional and new media?
This is how I see it, T.V didn’t destroy radio. Of course some media platforms will fizzle out or have to evolve but I dont think the entrance of one will destroy the other. The Airplane didn’t phase out the car, it’s just a different way of getting things done. Most traditional platforms will grow to have digital arms. So I think it is not very wise to ignore any platform in favour of the other.
A final question, as a multi-disciplinary artist, how do you decide what medium you want to work in at any point in time. Whether to do music, or photography or hairstyling? How do you choose?
It’s very hard to have to choose. It takes discipline and also clarity. You need to know what platform you’re using, what it’s perks and limitations are. I don’t think I’ve found the perfect equation, but when I finally find that balance, I’ll let you know.