ARTISTS and creative minds have a way of seeing the world from a different perspective. They often put their thoughts and interpretations of events, issues and personal encounters on a canvas, in music and literature.
For 33-year-old John Mausio, his paintings represent global issues integrated with aspects of his cultural identity and heritage.
Recently he launched his week-long solo exhibition titled "Who Will Fight For Me" at the Fiji Museum.
On display were 15 original pieces of what he feels are social issues facing women and children, whose voices he believes are suppressed because of disintegrating values and respect.
"I worked on these pieces since last year and all were based around social themes," he said about his artwork.
"I feel art is about making a positive change in other people's lives to advance social causes. Even if I don't sell a piece, to put a smile on someone's face or to see them light up with appreciation and recognition of the issue I'm addressing is satisfaction enough."
The life of an artist, he says, is not one of luxury. Spending long nights contemplating the type of message his artwork will resonate is a challenge — one of many obstacles artists like him face.
"There's also the cost of art supplies. You need to know when to buy your supplies at a certain time of the year. For instance, I normally buy mine when it's the back-to-school period — and I buy in bulk; it's not cheap either," says the Salvei-Noa'tau artist who turned professional in 2009.
"The other thing is selling your work. Most artists paint just to put food on the table or to earn money to support their family. Rarely do you find people who paint for the love of it or just to address an issue.
"We don't have established galleries or a proper art school for the really talented individuals in Fiji — mind you, we have a lot of people with great minds and talent."
Mausio, a former student of St John's College in Cawaci, Ovalau, is also a volunteer art facilitator for the Community Recovery Outreach Program — an initiative of the Youth Champs for Mental Health and St Giles Hospital.
For a once-upon-time high school dropout, Mausio says it took a lot of courage and commitment to turn his life around for the better.
"As a kid, I got into all sorts of trouble. Instead of focusing on school work, my books would be full of drawings. I remember my teacher saying maumau because I was wasting my time drawing even though I had the potential to do well academically," said John, who prides himself in two distinctive styles, contemporary and scenic pieces.
"I left school for a while to do my own thing but then I realised I had to go back to finish my education and turn my life around.
"I took that initiative and went back to school. I became head boy, shouldering all sorts of responsibilities that came with the role.
"Education is very important, even for artists because it is through education that you're aware of the issues around you and its effect on our way of life.
"I normally share my story with school dropouts as a way of encouraging them not to give up. The Matua program at Nabua is another option for school dropouts or mature students. There's always a way to get a good education, it's never too late."
John's will to go solo was an idea floating around for some time but he never really got around to it until he conjured up the confidence to actually bring his desire to reality.
He says support from family, friends and colleagues gave him strength to bring out the best of his God-given talents.