You must be familiar with the image of the starving artist in Nigeria who doesn’t get recognition until she dies. Were you discouraged from studying the arts because it was believed to be an unlucrative industry? Or maybe because you were a girl? Well, what if I told you they were wrong? You don’t agree? Here’s my argument – if you’re artistically inclined, why settle for broke when this image below could just be you?
In many countries across the world, artists make their living from selling art. However in Nigeria, it is often difficult for artists to break into commercial success. If you are still not sure how this article can help, stay with me. I’ll show you how to start making that money while holding on to your creativity.
Create a unique brand
Your brand needs to have a selling factor that is personal to you as an artist, be it your style, your market, your subject. Check out Francis Sule for example, who uses a highly illustrative style in his work.
Have a day job
A lot of artists hole themselves up in their studios expecting their ‘dope’ work to speak for itself. You see girl, your work isn’t going to speak without you doing some talking.
A day job that lets you meet people and maintain a flexible schedule is a good idea. I work as a graphics designer in a sports entertainment company and that helps me meet a lot of people. Another case in point is Stacey Okparevvo who works as a yoga instructor.
Hire a talent manager/art agent.
Most artists are not really business savvy, they’re just not very good at marketing their own work! Think about it, if they were to be left on their own, galleries would probably be making far less money.
We hear of veteran artists with agents and managers taking care of business, but most new artists don’t care for such ‘luxuries’. The truth is it is not so difficult getting people do to do these things for you. David Oamen is one of the few people who does something along those lines in Nigeria.
Sell affordable art
There is actually nothing wrong with selling affordable art. A number of artists are creating and selling affordable stuff. For example, Art of ajet, Mode, and lawyartist are examples of artists who sell art, phone cases and so on, online. You can do phone cases, T-shirts, logos, mugs, book covers, snap backs, the possibilities are endless.
Network network network
Ah, yes, artists network. Are you serious about making commercial hits? Then you surely have to go out and meet people. Ayoola has a huge network across the world and is a friendly chap. AAF and ArtContemporary also artists who organise networking events for other artists.
Collaborate outside your field
Again this may feel a little too tasking, but you need to go outside your comfort zone to sell your art. Collaborating with fashion designers and musicians is a great way to make collaboration work for you and bring in constant work.
Set up a store at Jakande
Yes, I said Jakande! What were you expecting though? A lot of foreigners and Nigerians visit Jakande with the intention to buy art. And if your art is affordable and your brand amazing, you’re sure to find great customers there. If I were you, I’d get someone to handle sales, and may even sell my work myself.
Contact galleries across the world
Galleries worldwide are usually looking for new artists. Don’t rest on your oars girl, contact them, be at the top of your game. Art21, Omenka, and Rele are some of the galleries in Lagos.
Finally, the arts business might be a tricky one. I’m not sure what the defining factors of a ‘good’ art piece are but I do know that for every work you create, you’ll need to be authentic and true to who you are. Strive to create pieces that you actually love. And make lots of money along the way.