Kenyan artist gets viral shout out for pencil drawing of Steve Harvey

Collins Okello Omondi the pencil artist./Picture by CGTN-Africa Digital

Collins Omondi Okello’s dream is to become an internationally known, highly successful artist.  He’s using American comedian Steve Harvey to accomplish that dream.

“Steve Harvey is a great comedian, businessman, motivator and I follow him on social media platforms”.

Collins Okello Omondi the pencil artist./Picture by CGTN-Africa Digital

Okello, who specializes in pencil drawings, created a portrait of Harvey, posted the work on Twitter. He then sent a tweet to the comedian and urged all of his followers to re-tweet and tag Harvey.

“This year, I figured that I needed to do international personalities who inspire me. Last year and previous years, I did local public figures and it resonated well with the local populace. So I decided that if I try international celebrities, I could connect well with the international market.”

Okello’s social media play paid off. A few days after those initial tweets to Harvey went out, Harvey responded.

“Now I’m looking for you. It would be my honor to have this, what size is it and I’ll be in Joburg and Botswana soon let’s hook up then,” Harvey said in his tweet.

“It’s overwhelming, it’s humbling, it’s real, it looks like a dream that I will finally meet the man I have dreamt about handing a portrait to”, Okello said.

The 30-year-old Okello is a self-taught artist who discovered his talent while still in primary school.

“I would draw the person next to me, the person in front, or a group of pupils around me, and when I showed them the drawing, they were impressed. I then discovered art was my thing”.

Okello says he focused on art and design while in high school but laments that Kenya’s education system didn’t really help develop and nurture his artistic skills. He eventually obtained a finance degree, however, art remains his passion.

He says young Kenyans can find fame and fortune in the arts but that parents need to nurture and encourage their artistic children.

“I would like to assist upcoming talents who are not necessarily in the formal sector but those with skills and talents that can help them put food on the table. We don’t all have to be doing white color jobs”, he says.

The portrait of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In addition to praise from Steve Harvey, Okello’s art has also earned him recognition from Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta who commissioned him to draw a portrait of former US President Barack Obama and his family.

The portrait of former US President Barack Obama and his family./Courtesy of Collins Omondi the pencil artist.

Other notable personalities on his artwork profile include Kenya’s Former Prime Minister and the current African Union Envoy for infrastructure Raila Odinga as well as South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

The portrait of former Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga./Courtesy of Collins Omondi, the pencil artist.

Okello says Africa is full of young, talented people who can make a good living through art. The first step to that success is in believing in your talent and having the guts to take a chance on yourself.

“Since there are so many gifted youth, it’s imperative that they put themselves out there for the world to see. You don’t have to have a huge following, but you can leverage the power of social media.”