Art by Cocopina a.k.a Tina Doughty Is the Name to remember.
Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with Visit Malawi.
No, thank you!
So, tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Tina?
Tina Doughty is a Malawian artist based in the U.K
She is 36 years old and was born in Zimbabwe, raised in 13 countries in Africa, Malawi being my last location and where I consider home.
Afterwards, I then moved to the UK on my own when I was 16 to begin my adult life.
I’d describe myself as a unique individual who is keen to try new things.
Through embracing new and varied challenges I find that I bring these new found experiences into my creative interests of singing, cooking and painting and widen their appeal.
I’ve been through many fails and great triumphs through this and have grown much stronger, wiser and confident in my own skin.
A fun loving soul with so much to give.
Tell us about your Brand Art by Cocopina?
Cocopina! Every one loves a cold cocopina on a hot day.
This was my nickname back in Malawi, Tina Cocopina.
Moving to the U.K that name stuck with me and it always makes me smile hearing it, so i thought i should use it as my brand name.
I used to love art with a passion back in my school days.
Bishop Mackenzie art classes were my favourite days, taught by the legendary Mr Hank.
He really did make me push boundaries at expressing my talent.
I thank him today for that. Moving to the U.K on my own, work and college life were the main focus, so i never picked up a paint brush from the age of 16 – 30.
When I did, I found myself again.
I’ve mostly worked on commissioned pieces but sometimes I create something based strongly on my feelings.
Acrylics, spray paint and other material are some of the tools i work with.
Experiments and pushing boundaries is something I love.
From painting wild life, female form, portraits and murals, you name it.
I love being self employed doing something I love.
With 2 young children, I am exhausted but happy and I find it helps me to just zone out in my creative den and create. I relax and spend time on my own for a bit instead of being a mother 24 hours.
I am grateful that my talent helps feed my family and i hope this motivates my two sons as they grow to pursue something they love when they are older.
Art is tricky, some love it some don’t.
From colour, style, texture, size, layout and emotion, I always try and make each piece personal to that person, for this makes me feel uplifted knowing they have something they can look at and smile for years to come.
There is a saying ‘ My Art will live longer than I do ‘.
How did Art by Cocopina get started?
My honest answer! Bills and stress! The joys of living in the U.K.
I started to paint and sell my art when i was a single mother with my first born son.
It was a hard hard time but as a mother i had to get my hustle on, and with a wing and a prayer it did.
I started off small and slow, but by the power of social media and word of mouth I got more customers.
I will not lie, looking back at my art i could tell i began to progress better and better finding my own unique style.
My own stamp. I am happy to say I have reached that zone, of being an official business.
How long have you been at it and where did and does your inspiration come from?
So from the age 30, I started to paint when i was pregnant. The memory is still fresh.
I remember living in a women’s refuge in London and really needed something to switch my mind off.
There was a lovely lady living in the room next to me who encouraged me to try out my skill again.
Afterwards, I gave her my first painting in thanks for always being there, she refused to have it for free.
That was my first painting i sold, it felt great.
I felt alive and started to wake up to the world and how you can focus your mind on aspects that make you happy.
It would be amazing to see you do a collaborative piece with another amazing Malawian female artist Tajah Olson.
Is that something you would ever consider doing?
Tajah! That woman is insanely talented. Her style, confidence and creativity is up there.
Of course, I would love to and it would be an honour.
How we would do this countries apart, now that would be fun.
Well i guess we better hook it up when we interview her. Where there is a will, a way will always be found.
Can people commission art pieces and where can they also invest in your ready art?
Yes they can, I mostly work on commissions.
I have more drive in creating something i know a customer requested.
Sometimes I do have some pieces for sale which tend to go very quickly.
There are also a couple of pieces displayed in my own home.
All my work is shown on Facebook and my Instagaram account, from videos of myself creating the pieces to step by step sketches and progress.
Now, they say a great interviewer studies their subject and this may catch you by surprise, but will you ever get back to music and if so, when can we expect some music from you?
Oh my goodness you found me 😉
Yes, a little secret of mine, that i use to be involved musically, mostly within my late teens and 20’s.
I was a child of many talents, not sure which path to take but enjoyed trying out new things.
In all honesty, I think my singing days are pretty much retired.
I have come so far and battled so much to be in such a good position in my life right now with my little family who i strive for daily.
I think being a freelance artist is my destiny, however, I do still sing in the shower or with my sons to put them to sleep.
Music will always be in my heart though. Music and art are the best medicine for life.
Well, you are such a gifted singer and songwriter.
That will never be denied by those who know.
I remember one of your original tracks “woopsi” many years ago, ‘I am not your average girl, so don’t be fooled….’
Lol, a bit rusty with the lyrics and don’t ask me how I know….
For those interested in that side of art by cocopina,where can they buy or stream your music?
Woooow that was so so long ago, I smiled reading this thank you, brings back memories.
Memories of freedom and sleep! lol.
Honestly I had so many boot leg Cd’s i use to hand around and i’m sure some soul has a copy somewhere.
Is Myspace still a thing?
If so, I think I may be still on there under amongst the cobwebs 😉
It is so inspiring to see a young Malawian female Artist, Singer and Songwriter not allowing traditional societal norms to limit the magnitude of your greatness.
What do you think has given you the drive to go after your passion with no apologies?
I hate following the normal.
I itch when I feel i am not pushing myself to become better, to be at peace with what i love and what expresses my true self.
Especially in your 30’s, you tend to reach that point of confidence.
Any part of Africa even Malawi has immense levels of creative individuals.
I see Instagram is full of Malawian talent these days. I am also so happy to see alot of female business women.
Malawi is truly growing in abundance, they are what inspires me to join that ‘ i can do it too’ band wagon.
Africans need to support one another without competing against each other.
What is your advice to other people who would like to follow in your footsteps in the arts but may be facing family backlash over career choices?
There is a classic saying ‘ Art will not pay your way in life ‘ Well it is for me.
It starts incredibly slowly, but with persistence and drive, you can achieve anything.
Giving up is not an option for me, sometimes i have bad months sometimes I am so busy, it goes up and down.
I think if you start by setting out what type of art you want to expose, style and technique it helps you stand out from the crowd.
Do not listen to anyone if they say being an Artist is not a job.
I mean if you need more financial support, a second job is good on the side.
I think it depends on your situation and environment, I understand it is not easy for other families to create a business doing something they love with family to support.
Either way your family and friends should support and be with you on any journey you choose.
How can they get started?
Facebook and Instagram. That is all.
Create a few strong pieces and show them to the world, follow other artists pages and get some feedback and ideas visually.
If you have been paying attention to the wave of Malawian millennials pushing boundaries, where then do you see Malawian Millennials in the next 10 years?
Strong African business men and women. Jumping suppressed cultural ways.
If you could have one open door that could elevate your work and brand even further, what would you wish and hope for?
I would love to paint pieces for hotels.
Do not ask me why but i love hotels and decor.
I think its a great way to grow any business.
To be able to showcase my art in a hotel would help me showcase my pieces on a larger scale.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
My children being independent, so i can finally go backpacking around the world and see new cultures and try new cuisine!
For our curious readers, are you single or taken?
I have the most amazing fiance who is my soul mate, my best friend my love.
He is the reason why I am becoming better as a person, a mother, a woman and artist!
Outside of the arts what brings you joy?
Food no question about it. To eat it and to cook it, pure joy right there. Also dancing, i love a good boogie!
Last but not least how can people get in touch with you? (All your social media etc..)
Connect with Art by Cocopina
Last but not least, how can people get in touch with you? (All your social media etc..)
Facebook: Art By Cocopina
Insta: artbycocopina or tinaanne31
Thank you for visually taking us along into your world.
We’re grateful that you could chat with us.
It is so breathtaking to hear from a Malawian millennial go-getter!
We wish you all the best in all your endeavours.
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