PHOTOS: Meet 27-Year-Old Nigerian Whose Incredible Sketches Look Like Digital Photos

Kelvin Okafor, 27, graduated from Middlesex University in fine art and is now making waves across the country.


His subjects include popular music artists Tinie Tempah, James Morrison and Adele.

He has also picked out tragic figures from actor Heath Ledger to the late King of Jordan, King Hussein – and with each, he tries to evoke an emotion in the viewer.

Finally, he has used friends and colleagues for the impressively accurate images, which look like soft focus digital photos.

Last year, the artist from Tottenham, north London, exhibited at numerous major art galleries and won a clutch of prestigious national awards for his remarkable work.

Each of his pieces takes around 80-100 hours to complete, over approximately three weeks in the studio.

Mr Okafor creates each piece only in black and white – using graphite pencils, charcoal, black coloured pencil and sometimes grey pastels.

Yet he believes that the range of tone, shade and texture is almost endless.

photoHe draws on a combination of life and photographs, working on his art for up to 15 hours a day.

He admits he is ‘passionate about precision’.

‘I aspire to create art as vivid as eyes could see,’ the artist writes on his blog.

‘I want my drawings to prompt an emotional response, making viewers feel as though they are looking at a real live subject.

Mr Okafor describes the pencil as ‘a humble instrument’, but says this is part of its appeal.

‘I’ve always been creative, but fell in love with using pencils in particular.

‘It amazed me, that with only one shade of lead, you can create so many tones and textures, and almost create the illusion of colour.

‘It was only when my images started to create a buzz with other Middlesex University students that I realised their impact.’

photoHe was selected as one of the top two pieces of work at Cork Street Gallery’s Winter Show in 2012 and recently won the Catherine Petitgas Visitors’ Choice Prize, part of the National Open Art Competition.

His work is currently on display at the The Watercolours + Works on Paper Fair at the London Science Museum, until February 3.

Before starting a piece, Mr Okafor spends a few days analysing a photo, concentrating first on the subject’s eyes, which are central to his works’ impact.

His pieces are now selling for on average £8,000-£10,000, depending on the scale.

‘The attention I’m receiving is surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,’ he added.

‘I’m usually sheltered from it in my studio as I continue to build my portfolio, but I’m really humbled and honoured that so many people appreciate my work.

‘I hope to have my own gallery in the future.’

photoHe has now had more than 50 commissions, and the dedicated artist cites his role models as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – because they not only mastered the arts but branched out into other fields including engineering, poetry, science and maths.

Twitter users describe his work as ‘incredible’, ‘extraordinary’ and ‘astounding’.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here