There are so many talented people out there, creating breathtaking works of art that deserve the attention of the whole world. But the art scene can be a snobby and fickle place, sometimes it seems that the right ‘names’ get far more attention than their talents merit. So it’s refreshing to see a truly gifted young artist get their big break and be catapulted into global attention.

Nigerian art is thriving, with this diverse and dynamic country producing an array of creative talents that demand wider attention. One particular area of interest is hyper-realistic pencil drawings, with artists like Ken Nwadiogbu producing the kind of portraits that are so detailed you’d swear they were photographsYoung artist Eli Wuduba Yusuf, based in Kaduna state in north-central Nigeria, is a pencil magician who can conjure up hyper-realistic portraits using nothing more than a simple lead pencil and some paper. 

He recently reached out on Twitter to Kevin Hart, his favorite comedian, hoping to show the astonishingly accurate portrait he drew of The Upside actor. After thousands of retweets hoping to gain Hart’s attention, the comedian saw Eli’s piece and was so impressed by the young artist’s obvious talent and initiative, he offered to buy it. Not only that, but he commissioned Eli to do 3 drawings of his friends, giving Eli a nice little public portfolio to kickstart his career.

Posted by Eli Waduba Yusuf on Wednesday, February 27, 2019

It’s fair to say that this represents Eli’s big break and shows the power of social media for young artists who wish to gain exposure. People all over the world are now admiring Eli’s work, it’s truly a life-changing event for him. “We have basically over 70% young people in Nigeria right now and a large amount of them are gifted, talented or into painting, drawing and sketching,” Nigerian journalist Yaron Mudi told Bored Panda. “Many have taken to social media to push out their craft because that is the only voice we the youth have. It has opened our talented young people’s skills to many new eyes.”


Eli knows this and used Twitter cleverly to gain the attention of his idol. People quickly recognized his talent and were happy to help him reach his goal. A few days after his original tweet, it all kicked off. “Isn’t God amazing??” he wrote. “I just joined Twitter a day before yesterday and my work just went viral, my phone can’t stop buzzing.”


The hyper-realist scene in Nigeria first grabbed the world’s attention back in 2016, when Lagos-based artist Oresegun Olumide’s oil paintings went viral. People couldn’t believe that they weren’t photographs, and his success inspired a new generation of hyper-realist artists. Using a simple pencil and some paper, artists like Eli spend hours crafting and shading these incredible portraits, often of famous people and incorporating themes such as gender equality, African cultures and black power. The genre has really taken off and given the youth a real outlet for their creative talents.


Bored Panda has contacted Eli for further comment, we are eager to hear how he is experiencing his new-found fame and his plans for the future.

Here’s how people reacted to Eli’s work

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