Spotlighting Creatives (Episode 5): KenSilas the Artist

Around 2010/2011, I was in my penultimate year in primary school – not as the assistant head-boy like you thought but that cool kid that just came into a new school – and one of the fondest memories I have of that time was the casual pencil art contest we’ll organise after exams. ‘Pencil art contest’ might even be a complex phrase to describe what it was then; someone basically brings a picture to school, challenges his other friends to draw the picture, and then we compare after.  It could be a picture of a flower, a mermaid, or even something so random that my brain finds it difficult to remember now.  It was something very fun to look forward to and, trust me, we outdid ourselves with what we drew on paper then.

That was an era; it’s only a handful of those friends I still keep contact with – guess life just happened. You can call it pride but I was arguably one of the best in that group but does it really matter right now? Maybe, maybe not. I lost my mojo in secondary school and something that I once felt like I could do from my sleep gradually felt like magic to me. I would be in awe of pencil art, forgetting that I was once there and I wasn’t even motivated enough to pick up a pencil and see if I’m still HIM. Now, it isn’t as bad as it can get – at least not yet – because when I’ve had to draw against my will, in Biology or Agric notes, I could still present very decent drawings. I’d like to think I’ve made peace with the fact that I might not be as good again, or compensate the thoughts with the knowledge that writing might just be it for me (of course I’m an award-winning writer) and would rather continue to be in awe of pencil artists.

In the world of pencil artistry, I’ve met people and I’ve met PEOPLE. Silas Kehinde Adejumo fits into the latter category perfectly. Silas is a cool, calm, easy-going, third-year medical student in the University of Ibadan. He’s that guy that would probably be mute until he’s asked a question. Away from apprenticeship at the feet of Hippocrates, he’s a pencil artist – whose brand name is KenSilas – and lover of God and beautiful music. He also has a thing for agriculture and can qualify as an Agropreneur.

KenSilas vs Silas Adejumo

He thinks these are two sides of him although he’s still the same person. Ken is from his middle name Kehinde – and the former means to have insight/understanding. That, with his first name, Silas, makes his brand name, KenSilas. He thinks that side is a better version of him, having metamorphosed from a younger version into who he is now. Still, both sides are cool, calm, and easy-going.


Silas has been drawing since he knew how to hold a pencil. Funnily enough, he had a similar childhood like mine where we scribbled on empty pages of a note we used for the term – after the term exams. As a church boy, you would also find drawings of musical instruments at the back pages of the bibles he used while growing up. He began to put a face to it in secondary school where biology was a walkover for him in the aspects he had to draw. This began to make him appreciate artistry more than ever. Leaving secondary school, the love remained, even in the first tertiary institution he attended. This brought the attention of people to him and people took his drawings to make another copy of it and it came as a shock to him that his practical manuals could go that far. Later on, he realized he could do better than drawing on these manuals but inconsistencies sneaked in for a while. The young man is of the opinion that the passion to get medicine took that from him. Luckily for him, a Sunday sermon – titled Stewardship of Talents – brought back the spark. As part of the process, he met someone who knew someone that was a pencil artist, called her, and met the pencil artist at the end of the chain of friends of friends.

L: KenSilas drawing a gospel music artiste, Chandler Moore; R: KenSilas drawing an artwork, lending his skill to talk about HPV.

Journey so far…

In Silas’ opinion, there’s no one way to create art. One could get inspired by what is around them and they could get inspiration from scribbling on a piece of paper too. For him, most art pieces are products of what he has consumed so far. In his mini-studio set-up in the Great Azikiwe hall, you would see medicine in what he draws. Overtime, he’s been so fascinated with the human body and he doesn’t have to force the energy for people to see what interests him – medicine. This doesn’t also mean that he does not have random not-medicine-related art pieces. On this path of pencil artistry, his major influence is Adefemi Gbadamosi – who is popularly known as Fola David. Seeing that this person is a medical doctor – who doubles as a visual/hyper-realism artist – the reason his name came up is not far-fetched. The struggle of combining medicine with art pushed him to ask questions which led him to Fola David. As a dermatologist, Fola uses art to portray skin diseases like vitiligo and communicates a message against stigmatization. Promise Abodunrin, who introduced him to professional art and Fola David, is also another major influence.

He hasn’t begun full monetization of his art but he’s been commissioned to create a few works. For the commissioned pieces, he thinks the money is not even worth the sacrifices he takes. Monetization is definitely something he’s considering in the near future and he believes the present monetary sacrifices are for futuristic investment. He’s genuinely patient for the time he doesn’t have to bargain prices with clients; so for now, he’s focused on putting in the work needed. The most motivation Silas gets to work a piece is the story around the art. It moves him to tell the story on a drawing paper. Another source of motivation is the inspiration behind an idea, combining medicine and art. For context, he is somewhat irritated by the shabby artworks he sees in health centers used to depict certain health issues and he hopes to influence the creation of better pieces that tell stories in medicine even better. There will be aesthetics, while not compromising on the message,  in every of his pieces. The most satisfaction he’s gotten from a piece is going back to look at it, and getting wowed by it. Nice reception (comments, feedback, enquiries, reposts, etc) also moves him.

Of all the art pieces Silas has wowed people with, the one that leaves a cherishing memory in his head is the Life Pump. The art represents a major transition in his journey of combining medicine and art; and he’s grateful to the UIMSA executives that organized that contest in their tenure – the Omotola Odeleke-led administration. Even as much as this amazing pencil artist has not started monetizing his pieces, for the few ones he’s been paid to do, he remembers a slight regret with the client. This happened due to a miscommunication surrounding the client’s expectations although he was able to manage the situation the best way he could. If you read till this point, you should be wondering how Silas juggles this with medical school. Silas thinks there’s no real sense of balancing but he prioritises and also makes time for what he treasures. As an introverted person, Silas rates his social media presence 5 out of 10 – 10 being the best.

Top Left: Life Pump (to commemorate World Heart Day); Top Right: Chandler Moore; Bottom Left: HPV; Bottom Right: Mrs Anopheles (to commemorate World Malaria Day.)

Just like every other creative, working on an artwork has messed up Silas’ day before. Most times, his come from when he’s trying to put something down and it’s not coming out the way he desires. He has had to sketch a piece three different times before he got what he could eventually work with. Also, when a peer in artistry lands a big gig, it reminds him of where he should be at that point in time, but in a positive way, motivates him to keep going. I agree that it’s human to feel that way, but feelings are carefully managed – in the best way possible. The comment on an art piece that has made Silas feel the proudest is Promise Abodunrin recognizing the niche he’s trying to create i.e., combining medicine with art. For him, it meant a lot, most especially when it came from somebody he looks up to and it’s a sign that the goal is getting clearer. The fastest Silas has completed a major art is two days, and the slowest it has taken him is months. Sometimes, it could take up to a year – when art block kicks in.

A day with KenSilas the Pencil Artist…

Silas wakes up to say his prayers and freshen up. He gets his gadgets and tools ready to draw, prepares his drawing board, and sharpens his pencils. He admits that it takes quite a long time to sharpen his pencils to his preferred taste. He painstakingly does this and gets to his drawing board to start something. When he’s deep into a particular piece, and his ears are plugged – listening to music or messages – he  doesn’t realise the whole day is gone and dusk is knocking. He can keep going till the middle of the night but most times, he doesn’t draw at a stretch due to other commitments. He also likes the idea of frequent breaks because there’s this freshness that comes with the creative process.

Leonardo da Vinci is Silas’ greatest artist of all time. But in the artistry space, Silas particularly admires the work of Arinze Stanley (a Nigerian) and Fabrice the artist (a Dutch-Canadian). Musical Instrumentalists, specifically the pianists, leave Silas in awe.

Silas has a word for UIMSAites,

You should know what you want for yourself and also want the best for yourself. Expose yourself to the best minds because that was how I could get to this point. Keep working on your craft, and try to be consistent.

PS: You can check out Silas on Twitter here, and Instagram here.

Peter Adeyemo.

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1 thought on “Spotlighting Creatives (Episode 5): KenSilas the Artist”

  1. To God be the glory for His grace and mercy that’s sufficient for you
    May you continue to grow in knowledge and understanding in the name of Jesus
    Keep on rising and flourishing
    The Lord shall crown all your efforts with exceeding reward and connect you Divinely
    You are a prideof the family of Adejumo.keep it up.
    As a father iam proud of you.Sudden death shall not be your portion in the name of Jesus Christ Amen

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