Art is about focus, time and imagination

01 July 2016 | Art and Entertainment

Being focused, making time for yourself and having a strong imagination is what determines a true artist, says 31-year-old Justus Shaanika, who makes a living from selling his paintings and drawings.
Born and raised in Ongwediva, Shaanika, also known as ‘Dix’ by his friends and customers, told Ewi lyaNooli how he started as an artist and is now selling portraits worth thousands of dollars.
Interviewed at his home while he was shading a Che Guevara portrait, Shaanika said the journey started way back in grade three when he attended a drawing workshop in Oshakati.
He said after some years he discovered that drawing was one of his talents.
“I started drawing on the ground, then on paper and now I can paint on anything you want me to paint.
“I can draw or paint something you want, even if it’s in your imagination, I have no limits when it comes to art,” Shaanika said.
Shaanika said the first drawing he sold was in high school to fellow learners from other countries who liked his work, and it motivated him to pursue that route.
He said his motivation to become an artist continued to grow as his friends promoted his work to other people who would contact him for artwork.
In 2009 Shaanika enrolled at the College of the Arts in Windhoek where he did a three-year diploma in Visual Arts, which covered textile, printing, live drawing, sculpture and ceramics.
He said after completing his diploma he stayed in Windhoek where he received commissions through the College of the Arts for murals on school walls countrywide.
Determined to make it on his own, Shaanika returned to his hometown and started doing business from home, which he says is going well.
“I wanted to come up with something of my own and that’s why I came home and it all worked out,” Shaanika said.
When asked whether he is faced with challenges in his career he said as long as he is able to survive from his work he is fine and does not have any worries.
“I can’t say I am having challenges as I am just doing fine, I buy my materials, make my artwork and sell it where I get my daily bread from. Maybe in the future but not now,” he said.
Shaanika said the only way he can market himself is by producing quality work and establishing a good relationship with customers, who tell potential customers about him and contact him for work.
“My focus is to give quality services and products which customers will feel are worth spending their money on.
“You also feel nice when you have done something of quality and it raises your confidence to sell,” he said.
Shaanika added that money comes second to him, saying that artists should focuses more the quality of their work than on money.
Inspiring the unemployed youth, Shaanika said there is no excuse for remaining unemployed, and they should discover their talent and make a living from it.
“There is something like self-employment, you do not need to be employed by someone to make a living. Discover your talent and do it for yourself. It feels nice knowing that your talent puts bread on the table,” he advised.

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