More Branches Talks To Thompson. S. Ekong.



Why Do You Create

Thompson: Why do we breathe? Why do we blink? Eat? Start wars? Destroy things? Build things? Why do we exist? The answer to all these questions all says the same thing. We do it cause we have to, it just happens. You can’t really control or know when it’s happening. You feel it happen every moment you’re alive. I create to put my mark on each day my form walks in humanity. We’re all here to actually prove our death day won’t be sad.

What is the creative scene around you?

Thompson: It’s remarkable. You can feel this yourself, every day there’s something happening. I’m more into collaborations now, working with new minds and creating a new substance. I want to bring together cultures. Last year I showcased at LagosPhoto Festival, my series Force through the conglomerate Baroque Age, which is home to me. It was epic, we took the kids to a place filled with minds from a generation ahead. I was with my friends all around the studio with works from older minds. We’re the kids in this, we’re the ones with new ideas. It’s that way all around me, working with 90s BabyOzzy B and the Monster Boys, Lucid Lemons or my own personal series which are more intimate, it’s all so vibrant. This is probably the best time to be a visually creative, there’s a lot to capture and be a part of.

Image by TSE

90’s Baby Summer Collection.

Image by TSE

Severe Nature Collection.

Image by TSE.

Severe Nature with Odunsi

What was ‘Feel At Home’ about?

ThompsonFeel at Home, you already know. It’s not so deep, quite in your face actually. Feel At Home is my way of saying Africa is enough for us, we don’t need to try anything elsewhere. I understand a time when Africa felt like a black hole, won’t lie it’s still that way but there’s something filling this black hole and it’s the New Age. We’re creating something that can’t be ignored, we have the internet and our hearts are channelled in making a future of greatness. We’re gonna be so great and I needed to express that as an artist creating from his experiences. Raw, Control, and Experiment are three layers I saw the culture morph through. First, we got a hold of our consciousness, then understood how to use and influence our world with it and now we’re experimenting and trying new things. We’re happy to be African, I am at least.

TSE at AfriKulture sitting in front of his ‘Feel At Home’ series.



You’re a big fan of music, Kanye West, and Steve Jobs?

Thompson: All things meow man. I love these things, you missed Cudi also. I think music is something spiritual and so much can happen when you put on a song and the vibes take over. The vibes of a song have to be positive, it has to encourage me to do more. Kanye West and Steve Jobs both inspire me cause they’re men who created in more than one box, they didn’t limit their order. They saw the more in everything and made it their responsibility to influence those areas with their own idea and form. I have the same vision.

You’ve spoken to me personally about your desire to make films?

Thompson: I won’t say much about this but yes. I think making films will be the next form or advancement my art will go through. I feel it coming. I see things as visuals now, every image I create wants to have a continuous sensation to it. I don’t want things to end as images anymore, I want more and it’s going to Involve me learning a lot so I’m taking my time.

The TSE brand has grown into this huge thing over the years. Everyone knows you, did you expect this?

Thompson: Well, I can’t say we expect anything. I’ve been creating for a while. If you’ve been following my work from day one you’d know my series “the people of ilishan-remo” or when I put out the “silhouette series”. I was going through my “Raw” phase then finding myself and becoming what I am now. I’m still growing honestly, I’m still finding my balance but I’ve tasted my control and experimented a bit. I’m at home with myself and my work, I can only grow from here. You know, as an artist you’re addicted to growth. You always want more for yourself, you want your old work to outdo your new one. There’s a lot of self-reflection within my work, I think that’s what people like about it. My work shows them what they are present and it’s something really dear to me, creating this mirror effect within every image. I always want to reflect the culture and where I’m at on my mind. I’m a visual storyteller, I like sequences and showing you something you know but you’re moving too fast to ever have a decent conversation about it, I’m there to fill in those gaps with images that will always be there.

Do we buy art?

Thompson: I think Africa is still learning to appreciate art. I’ve done shows and I get these dots saying I’ve sold a few pieces but do they come after and follow up on their orders? Another story. We’re still learning what art is, the art culture might exist but the reception and understanding are still growing. You all want to buy a Basquiat piece if you could afford one but that took time, Basquiat proved his art to get to that stage. We’re all growing artist in the new age culture. There’s a lot to experience, one day I’ll take a picture which will be showcased at the MoMA and it’d be auctioned for a million dollars. I want to create and work to that level but we all start from somewhere. Right now I’m still a meow from Nigeria using his art to pave his way. I’m thankful my art has been received in a few places outside Nigeria but there’s still more to be done.


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