Making a living from art

26 September 2018 | Art and Entertainment

Two College of the Arts (Cota) graduates have decided to set up an art selling business in their home town of Okahao in the Omusati Region, and also launch their very own arts institute.

On a visit to the Okahao this month, Ewi lyaNooli caught up with Gideon Frans (30) and Immanuel Iigonda (22) at the Okahao Technical Centre, where they operate from.

They shared their plans of expanding their art business.

Kashile hails from Ongozi village, while Iigonda is from Okathitu Kiimona village in Okahao constituency.

Iigonda, who obtained his certificate in visual arts last year, said they would usually cross paths on campus where Kashile used to visit, as he had already graduated back in 2013.

“We met on campus but I was still studying while Gideon would be on campus even after he graduated,” Iigonda said.

The duo then decided last year to make use of their skills to become self-employed, through producing art and selling it to customers.

Earlier this year they were fortunate to be offered a workshop at the Okahao Technical Centre.

Kashile said the idea to start an art business in the north, particularly in a small town of Okahao, was triggered by the fact that there are few art shops in the north, and people there don’t understand art.

He said further they want to change this mindset among northerners.

“We decided to open our business here in the north to change the culture of people hardly going out to look for art. People often buy artistic products in shops, but not from locals,” Kashile said.

“We believe that through hard work and determination we will succeed.”

The pair said currently most of their income is derived from selling sketched portraits and paintings.

Despite being able to make a living and afford their monthly rental, they said days can pass without selling a product.

“Business is good because we also just introduced this to the people here and they are slowly but surely coming through and spreading the message. However, it is also fair to say that we are struggling to have all our work sold.”

Asked what their biggest challenges are, they said many people come into their workshop, but walk out without buying.

“We sometimes do not understand why people would be showing so much interest and asking you all kinds of question, but at the end they are not buying; they walk away and mostly do not come back,” Kashile said.

Okahao Art Institute

After realising they can also share their acquired skills, the two decided to teach schoolgoing learners and members of the community through their Okahao Art Institute.

The institute will be launched on 27 September at the Okahao Technical Centre.

The arts institute will provide painting, textile, object-making, pencil drawing and mixed media classes.

Schoolgoing learners will be charged N$100 per month, while community members are expected to pay N$250 per month for the six-month course.

Kashile added that those who would like to enhance their skills at Cota have the opportunity of doing a one-year basic training course.

Based on their skills development, they can be admitted at Cota.

Kashile added their aim is not to make money from the training, but to share their skills with the community.

“We are not in it solely for money, but to teach the younger generation about art. We also target unemployed youth and encourage them to register, because art is everywhere and once you get skilled up, one can start his or her own business and sell art for an income,” Kashile said.

He called on Namibians from all walks of life to support them, saying any support will be appreciated.

The two are reachable on the following numbers 081 402 4902 or 081 878 8898.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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