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Bakari’s fine point art


Did you know that the humble Biro pen can be used as an artist’s instrument to produce exceptional portraits? Nuru Bakari uses it to bring life into his artwork using simple colours of green, blue, black and red.

“The beauty of the ball pen is in its simplicity. That, together with great attention to detail gives the piece a neat finish,” he said. Nuru’s first encounter with this kind of art was during an art and design class at Sacred Heart High School in Mombasa.

His teacher had challenged them to draw a still life using a Biro. That is when his love for Biro art began.

“After high school, I continued practising and exhibiting at a monthly event called W.A.P.I — Words and Pictures in Nairobi,” he said.

One of the portraits done by Nuru Bakari. PHOTO| NURU BAKARI
One of the portraits done by Nuru Bakari. PHOTO| NURU BAKARI

His love for art began while in primary school where he would re-draw cartoon characters like He-Man, Donald Duck and Danger Mouse, cut them as stickers and sell them to his classmates.

That is how he learnt that art could be both a source of inspiration and a business. After graduating from the Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts with a diploma in drawing and painting, he got his first commission work; to paint a mural at a nursery school.

He then moved to painting and printing on T-shirts.

When doing Biro art, he uses a wide variety of styles depending on a client’s tastes and preferences but the one thing that remains constant is the great amount of detail that goes into every piece.

“It is time consuming. The shortest period I can take on one piece is two weeks, ” added Nuru.

His art has seen him take part in exhibitions and charities staged at the Paa ya Paa Gallery, GoDown and at the Village Market. Being his main source of living, his business model is simple; no deposits, no instalments.

A client has to pay in full, up front. His future plans are great. He hopes to host an online exhibition and another at a renowned art centre.

“It is tough being an artist. If you want to succeed, you have to be patient and master yourself; you are nothing without discipline,” he says.

He donates 10 per cent of proceeds from each portrait to other artists to buy art materials. For now, Nuru is focusing on portraits. Later, he will venture to other themes to show his diversity.

“In biro art, diversity is somewhat is limited at the moment because the colours and types of pens available in the local market are also limited,” he said.

His advice to other artists?

“Dream great and plan big, share and enjoy what you do with others,” he says.