We had the good fortune of connecting with Hilary Tobe Mokolo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hilary Tobe, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
For a long time, I ran away from it while trying to appease everyone. All the while my body, mind, and spirit were at odds trying to get me back on the path. Fortunately, I listened and I feel more and more at peace. When I was younger I wanted to be a footballer (soccer), I drew, wrote stories, and read comics but never thought much of it besides just enjoying it. It wasn’t till I got older I understood the significance of those “hobbies” because they now became what I am most passionate about. So to answer the question, I would say I am choosing this artistic/creative career because I want to be who my younger self needed to see to believe his wild imagination can be turned into his life’s pursuit.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I believe all artists/creators share their personal stories through various mediums, so my narrative is what sets me apart. I’m most proud of actually starting and preserving even till today. Although I am nowhere close to where I want to be, it would have been easy to throw in the towel. So I am most proud of starting and continuing the marathon despite the hardships. I am where I am due to a community. Meaning I have had to build the people around me who believe in me. If you don’t have the attention of the people, you don’t have anything. That is not to say I am at any grandiose level, but I have a foundation. I have had to learn how to be unapologetically my authentic self. For the purpose of organic growth, I do not want to achieve success in life being anyone but myself. Which in itself is a part of the infinite mission. I’ve learned hard lessons along the way, made a lot of mistakes, yet still, I persevere. With all my left turns when I should have taken a right, I’ve learned and didn’t quit. In itself, that has been the toughest battle. The insistent behavior of waking up every day and aiming to be better than the day before with no real promise of tomorrow, it’s maddening. I want the people to know that we are building something. That something will be revealed when the world says it’s ready to be revealed, but until then, just tune in and watch the growth, watch the process, and support when they feel I’ve earned it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We definitely have to get some chicken at the best chicken food truck “Yaad Bird” then we’d burn it off hiking any of Austins beautiful trails. After which we would cool down riding scooters downtown and probably visit South Congress, Rainey street or the various food truck spots around where we can find some good food, drinks. Music and good vibes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are a lot of people who deserve credit for who I am today. In my adolescent years, my Uncle Tony had a huge role in my inspiration for being an artist. I used to want to draw like him and dance like him. He was my first role model. I then had a neighbor who became a teacher to me. Although he only taught me how to paint, he in a way also showed me what it meant to be patient and how to let things manifest. Throughout recent years, there are a few people who have tremendously impacted my life. To name a few, Monet, my partner and mother to our beautiful daughter Amani, Howard, my brother, Jon Mcconnell, a mentor, and friend, Julian Bennett, my friend, and brother. They have definitely in many ways have been a listening ear, my encouragement, my inspiration, and more.
Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/tobemokolo