Tosin Etomi, 34
Shipping & Ops
A typical day will see Etomi walking around looking badass with his shades on while listening to music on a pair of very large headphones. But he tells us that he is really “bashful by nature”. For August Man A-Listers 2014, the Nigerian decided to challenge himself by going into a form of art that he isn’t familiar with (he regularly paints, plays music and shoots photos) – creating a sculpture. Etomi shared with us his experience of learning to sculpt, which he said taught him to let go of his perfectionist mentality and to just run with it.
Why did you choose sculpting?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a fan of the arts in all its forms – music, poetry, painting and so on. Sculpting was a form of art that I liked, and that I hadn’t tried before. I paint and play a few musical instruments but sculpting was a totally novel area, and I thought, “Why not give it a shot? How hard can it be to play with clay and piece something together?”
Was it difficult?
Extremely. (laughs). The first clay sculpting session that I had was from 10am to 5pm. By 3pm I hit the height of frustration because what I thought I had done was just horrible. I seriously considered giving up and choosing another challenge after that session. But I refused to give up and went back to try it again. Even now, I’m not entirely pleased with the end product.
I’m a perfectionist. I believe that anything worth doing must be done well. I expected something grand, something spot-on, perfect and pleasing to the eye so that anyone who saw it would want to bid for it. When the sculpture was completed, I wasn’t happy with it, particularly with the colour. But it is my first attempt at sculpting. All is well that ends well, it finally got auctioned off.
And it was auctioned off for a very decent sum, wasn’t it?
Yes. My target for the entire auction was $2500. I did all the estimations before hand to settle on that figure. But the toal sum I got from the auction was $4000, which is almost double what I had hoped for. For me, the auction was a huge success. I also didn’t expect the amount of support and such a turn-out at the event. Well, I did sort of pester a number of people to get them to turn up. (laughs) I blasted out emails and messages to everyone. I am bashful by nature so this was stepping out of my comfort zone. I believe in only asking once, so for me to repeatedly ask people if they were going to turn up for the event revealed a side of me that I didn’t know I had.
Tell us about your sculpture design.
I almost chose the easy way out by doing a vase, which was also what the sculpting instructor advised me to do. But I wanted something that had feel but was also artistic. I was trying to achieve something that was rough around the edges and not completely perfect, but at the same time I wanted it to look really good. In the end, I made a “vapurse”, which is a cross between a vase and a purse. The reason I did this was because I had hoped that the person who eventually bought it would make more than one use of it.
In addition to the sculpture, you also auctioned off prints of your photographs of Singapore.
Singapore was the first country in Asia that I’ve visited. There are so many dimensions to this city that people are not aware of. Most people are always at MBS or CBD and rarely explore other areas. So I thought, why not take pictures of interesting places which are often overlooked? I went to photograph a village in Pulau Ubin. I also took photos of the Fountain of Wealth in Suntec City in a way that most may not have seen. At the end of the day, I think Singapore is a beautiful city and something that’s worth promoting.
What’s your favourite local dish?
(laughs) There are so many. Bak Kut Teh. Mee Goreng. Nasi Lemak. Stingray. I’m a serious foodie. I’m pretty sure I can take you places you have never heard of.
Why did you decide to join A-Listers?
For me, the competition was all about charity and I respect what August Man stands for in that regard. There are very few magazines that are audacious enough to set up this sort of competition primarily for charity. When it was pitched to me, I took it lock, stock and barrel. I’m from a humble background, and I will grab any opportunity to give back to society, regardless of wherever I am. One of the lessons that my parents taught me was to always try to leave a place better than when you came to it.
What was your experience like interacting with the CARE students?
I got to spend some time with them during the laser tag event and I have to say that meeting them was quite overwhelming. Forgive me, but I had preconceived notions of what to expect from the kids. But when I met them, I thought they were absolutely great. It was a humbling experience.
Well you got over that very quickly to become the laser tag MVP.
(laughs) Yeah, it takes very little to bring out the competitive nature in me.
Tosin Etomi, 34