In Conversation w/ Oyi Sands

6 min readMar 20


How has your journey in creating art been? Did you start out creating these types of abstract works you’re known for now or did you take a more traditional route to get to this point?

Okay, well, I’ve always been an artist before I started drawing professionally. You know drawing professionally is much different from taking it as a hobby. I was creating different kinds of art. Not necessarily realism but I just enjoyed drawing with pen and paper. I eventually started drawing patterns I think 7 years ago and I went fully abstract around 2020. That’s the basic rundown of how I got here.

When you create your work, seeing how abstract everything is, do you start with the visuals and then develop the meaning or is it vice versa?

Anyone can come first. I feel like I think abstractly. Sometimes I have an idea and there’s no visual around it, it’s just emotions. I may just know how I want it to feel and go from there. Other times I write down what I want it to feel like. I try and fully articulate those thoughts and write them down. I rarely go back to what I write down, to be honest. Other times I just start and halfway through, I realise a direction it’s going that I like and I keep developing intentionally to fit into that. I don’t really have one specific process, it’s quite random.

Speaking of thinking abstractly, how do you communicate those thoughts or is that something you even try to do at all?

It depends. I don’t have one set way of doing anything. And when I say abstractly, sometimes I might be too lazy to visualise the idea. Since I understand it beyond what I show. Like it’s knowing what I want a piece to feel like. Mostly I don’t add any words to it at all because when I do that too early, it feels like putting myself in a box and I don’t want to do that. So I might wait till I’m like halfway in or more before I verbalise anything.

Untitled (2021)

Do you feel like your viewers are able to pick up on those feelings you put into your work?

I think to an extent yes. When people speak to me about my work and from what I can see, there’s usually a lot of fascination and maybe some confusion as well because they don’t know what they’re looking at.

Seeing as it’s abstract, I try as much as possible to use as little semblance of life as possible. But I also want it to look like it can exist in the real world. Like it has a form that can easily fit into reality.

Most times i’m not really looking to people interpreting it. Especially if I’m not planning for it to have any deep meaning to it. Sometimes I just want people to enjoy looking at art and enjoying the technical part of the work. Sometimes when I look at people’s work, I always look at the choices they make, like what they choose to work with. What kind of colours, what kind of lines and other technical details. I’m really obsessed with the technical side of art. I want people to see that when they look at my work. I also want people to have their own meanings. Like you’re supposed to just enjoy looking at the pieces, but if it makes you feel something and you can find meaning in that feeling then that’s a plus.

Do you study any art? And if you do, how does what you study inform what you create?

I don’t have any formal art education but I study on my own. Anything that has to do with construction or technical drawing I study in my own free time which is now my professional time [laughs] but I take out time to learn by myself. But no I don’t have any formal training.

I wasn’t necessarily referring to formal training per se. When I say study I mean personal practice and also mean influences. Besides that Warhol piece you did, your work doesn’t remind me of anything. Are you influenced by anything or are you just moving by yourself?

My earliest influence would be the mandala style which showed me that art could be created out of patterns. Then I would see works by M.C. Escher who’s an artist from way back, he uses lines as I do and it’s all monochrome with surreal elements and illusions in his art. I studied a couple of artists to figure out how they expressed forms to show surreal ideas. Those influenced me a lot. Generally, I just like looking at art and learning about it. So what I do is a sort of juxtaposition of everything.

Immortality (2022)

Some of your more recent work has been less abstract and that leads me to question how your work has evolved over time. Going from a hobby to a job. How has that influenced your vision and the things you create?

I usually say I work on vibes. I listen to the art. I do what the art tells me to. Because if I don’t, I usually don’t like what I make. Going from art as a hobby to a job made me create more. As a hobby, I was creating once a month or so and I wasn’t driven to work on my technique I was just drawing to draw.

Now I’m more focused on intentional improvement so I can look back and see real progress. Going pro really made me focus on that. I study a lot of architectural work and perspective drawing and I’ve been incorporating that into my work. Learning really made me and my work evolve. I think that’s natural for the work to change over time.

Stage Fright: Unleashed (2023)

I see how architecture influences your work. I’d say it’s a bit obvious. Working heavily with perfectives on these pieces. I can see how you’re pulling from those places.

Are you ever pulled to create something that isn’t abstract? Does the need to create abstract work or your/ monochrome visual style ever feel like a constraint for you?

I experiment with other forms of art from time to time. I am making the kind of art I want to make. I had tried a lot of different things and this is the one that stuck for me. I feel like it helps me see clearer than if I tried to express myself realistically. I’m more connected to this than anything else.

Speaking of the experiments you do, do you have any intention of sharing those different works that don’t look like what we see now?

I think that’s inevitable. Nothing can stay hidden forever.

Do you ever feel like people don’t get your work? Like that thing of “they just don’t get it”.

I think there are people who don’t get my work yeah. But that’s not something that I dwell on. I’m aware that my work is abstract. I mean sometimes I come away from working on something not knowing what it is. So I expect that from others as well. I think it’s because my main aim is fascination. Like I said I want it to look like something that does not exist but can.

Love-Core (2022)

How do you feel about the financial obligations of art as a job? Do you feel like your work is appreciated or is it harder to appreciate? How do you feel about it in general outside art for art’s sake?

I won’t say it’s necessarily harder to appreciate. I like to say my art is avante-garde. And there are implications that come with that like there’s more of a barrier to entry for enjoying or appreciating the art because there needs to be a baseline understanding of what is going on for that appreciation to exist. But it’s a process. I’m going to be creating art forever and I know there’s more appreciation out there waiting for me.

This has been great. Thanks for coming. Any final thoughts you care to share?

When people see my work, I want them to understand that life has so many possibilities. Things can exist beyond what you see right now. I’m looking to a world where people see that things like this can be normal.




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