Spotlight: Meet Oyinkansola Dada
Tell us a bit of your background e.g. you’re training to be a solicitor and also run an art gallery on the side?
I studied International Politics at King’s College London. I always thought I was going to work in the NGO or development space but after interning at Amnesty International during my year abroad in New York I decided that I wanted to start out my career with more structure. So, I explored the option of a career in law. I enrolled in the law conversion course after I graduated from Kings College London and succeeded in my application to Dentons for a solicitor’s training contract. As law firms in the UK recruit trainees two years in advance this gave me some time to explore other things before starting with Dentons (a global top tier law firm in the UK). I took a year out to live in Lagos, Nigeria (where I was born and raised) and to explore the thriving arts scene there.
During my time in Lagos I decided to pursue my interest in the creative sector, so I interned at Art X Lagos and took time to connect with the creative community. I had started a blog in 2015 called POLARTICS where I wrote about African art and culture in its different facets. It was centered on engaging a younger audience and during my time in Lagos this evolved into a pop-up art and digital gallery, which gave me the flexibility to stay fresh and innovative. I started curating exhibitions and forming relationships with artists that I liked.
After my year in Lagos, I moved back to London to complete the Legal Practice Course and have since started my training contract at Dentons. Suffice to say that I am currently juggling both law and art! POLARTICS is doing well and we are showing at 1:54 Art Fair and Christies opening on October 8th in London.
My ambition is to position POLARTICS firmly within the art world as a gallery that represents exceptional emerging talent from the African continent; not a your typical stereotypical brick-and-mortar gallery but more experimental in its approach to curating and representing young and diverse voices. There is also a need to create a space for these artists but to also inspire younger Africans to collect. The art world is known for its opacity and inaccessibility and I believe a lot of new collectors need a degree of hand holding to fully come into their own.
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement to date is being able to do combine a career in art with my passion for art. There is a perception that one must either be creative or corporate and I don’t believe this is true. Although, it can get difficult I think that it’s possible to excel in and to combine the corporate world with creative endeavours. I find both law and art very fulfilling and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start to build an art collection today?
i) Do Your Research — Research the art world and discover what you like. It is important to understand and develop a true sense of your taste. You can start by visiting websites that provide insights into the global art market such as artsy and artnet. Millennials are especially adept at social media and this is great for collecting art as it’s easy to find new artists from around the world and follow their artistic process.
ii) Go to events — There are many types of art events, both in London and on the African continent which one can attend to discover and enjoy art, as well as to build connections with artists and gallerists. You can visit art fairs, museums, exhibitions, biennales, pop ups and even artist studios. This will help you learn about art, develop your taste and relate with the art community around you. Art events are especially busy on the weekends, if you want some quiet time soaking it in, try squeezing in a visit during the weekday.
iii) Start by collecting less expensive pieces — Art isn’t cheap and this poses barriers for millennials that don’t have a lot of disposable income. However, you can start by buying what you can afford. Affordable art can be found by collecting from emerging artists. You can also research which of your favorite established artists have limited edition prints on offer and start by purchasing these which are usually at a lower and more affordable price.
How do you deal with achieving your work/life balance?
The truth is that it can get really hard depending on the season. When it’s art season and I have exhibitions and fairs coming up, it gets especially hectic. I prepare ahead as much as I can so it doesn’t get overwhelming and I also make sure I get help where I can. I have an intern working with me on the art side and thankfully I constantly have people volunteering their time due to the collaborative nature of the art community. This helps me a lot. Whenever I have some downtime, I make sure to take advantage of it and rest as much as I can. I’ve become very careful with what I put my energy and time into.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I really enjoy culture in all its forms. I love visiting galleries, travelling, reading and shopping! I spend a lot of time curating playlists of all the genres of Black music I love. I enjoy reading books by Black authors and am currently reading “Love in Colour” by Bolu Babalola. During non-COVID times I also enjoyed solo travel and have recently started exploring travelling around Africa more. I plan to visit Rwanda soon. When shopping, I enjoy African designers like Kenneth Ize and Loza Maleombho.
How do you manage your own finances i.e. your savings and investments?
As a millennial, I’m really into digital savings and investment tools so I utilize them in managing my finances. I find this helps me keep track of my spending each month and to create monthly budgets. I’m open to taking risks so I’ve invested in a few ideas and remain open to doing more in the future.
On the more practical side, each month, I set aside my spending money and I try not to exceed it regardless of what happens. The rest goes towards saving for my first property. I don’t have a full investment strategy yet and only do it as and when I feel the need to but I’m trying to get better at it so I can start properly building my portfolio.
When investing, the value of your investment may rise or fall and there are no guarantees you will get back all the capital you have invested.
Art is an unregulated investment.