“It is ok to make mistakes, but it is not ok to give up.” ~ Wise words from 23-year old Mhademo Shitiri from Nagaland. This self-taught artist is famous for his realistic portrait sketches, and has a huge following of devoted admirers.
Young Mhademo started drawing as a 5-year old, and today he has fans reaching out to him from as far as Dubai and Singapore. Not only that, he is able to earn a living using his talent and passion. Over a chat, we talk about his early memories of drawing as a young boy, his supportive parents, how his school (Don Bosco, Wokha) played a role in reinforcing his confidence in choosing this path, his most memorable fan message, and more. Read on..
Self-Taught Artist Mhademo Shitiri from Wokha, Nagaland
Meribeni: Hi Mhademo, so excited to be having this chat. Huge fan of your work! Please introduce yourself to our R&L readers.
Mhademo: I am Mhademo Shitiri, eldest among four siblings. I hail from Old Changsu Village in Nagaland, and I was born and brought up in Wokha. I am a self-taught artist, mostly focused on portrait drawings.
Graphite Pencil Drawing by Mhademo Shitiri | In Memory of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant
Meribeni: When did you start drawing? How has the journey been so far?
Mhademo: I started drawing when I was around 4-5 years old. Initially, I started drawing cartoon characters and animes as I watched them on TV.
“I must say, God has been good to me. This talent that I have is a gift from God and all that I have done is by his grace. I started as a kid drawing cartoon characters, and now, not only do I receive appreciation from people around the world for my work, but I have also started earning through this talent God gifted me. Besides that, my family and friends have been a great support.”
Meribeni: When did you first sell your drawings and how much have you earned to date?
Mhademo: It was around 2016 that I started selling my drawings and to date, I have earned around one lakh rupees.
Meribeni: What’s your strongest memory of your childhood as an artist? Do you remember your first drawing?
Mhademo: I can’t remember the first drawing I made, but there’s an incident that I vividly recall and this was when I was in Kindergarten.
“It was one afternoon when my family was watching TV. I took a pencil and a piece of paper and made a sketch of them as they sat and watched the TV. They really appreciated it and it somehow gave me a sense of confidence as a child. This was the first real-life situation that inspired me and is still fresh in my memory.”
Meribeni: Where did you do your schooling and what role did your school play in your journey as an artist?
Mhademo: I did my schooling at Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Wokha. Back then, we didn’t have art teachers who taught us sketching/paintings as such, but the Principal and the faculties were always very encouraging and gave us support and the opportunity to participate in various competitions. I have participated in various Intra/inter-school competitions, district-level competitions, and even at the state level. So in a way, my school has helped me a lot in building my confidence as an artist.
Meribeni: What has been your biggest achievement as an artist so far?
Mhademo: In 2019, I was invited to my old school (Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Wokha) to judge an intra-school drawing/painting competition. This might sound small but to me this was an achievement in itself, to go back as a judge in the place where I was once a participant.
Meribeni: What kind of subject inspires your work?
Mhademo: For me, I am focused on creating realistic drawings. It’s my aim to create portraits of people as real as possible. In a way, I draw my inspiration from people.
Meribeni: Can you name artists that you’d like to be compared to?
Mhademo: I don’t want to be compared to anyone. I believe we are all different and so are our God-gifted talents. I just love what I do and I want to inspire people through my art and not to be compared with anyone, neither do I want anyone to be intimidated by what I do.
Meribeni: What do you dislike about the art world?
Mhademo: As a human, sometimes we seek validation from people and the fact that sometimes people don’t value and respect the time and effort we put in to create art is something I dislike.
Meribeni: How has social media contributed to your work as an artist?
Mhademo: Well, social media has been a blessing! It has given me a platform to promote my art and my business as an artist. I had people reaching out to me from all parts of the world, including clients from Singapore and Dubai.
Meribeni: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Mhademo: I have a long way to go, however, over the course of my journey as an artist, a lot of people gave me really encouraging comments on my work, but one particular comment that I really like (I still have a screenshot of that comment) was given to me by Robin Hibu, IPS Delhi, telling me he was a fan of my work. This to me was, and is very special.
Meribeni: Professionally, what’s your goal as an artist?
Mhademo: As of now, I am only focused on achieving my aim in creating portraits of people as real as I can. And besides that, I want to organize workshops where I can share my knowledge as an artist.
Meribeni: Any message for the young budding artist?
Mhademo: As an artist, we have been gifted with the ability to recreate images we see. Always try to do better and not perfect. It’s ok to make mistakes, but it’s not ok to give up. God has already gifted us with different talents and now it’s our responsibility to hone those talents and use them to bring glory and honor to God.