The misconception has always been that Art and Design is for those with talent but Alex Kwizera, an artist, says, “Talent is nothing without all fundamentals of hard work.”
In fact many Ugandans are afraid of taking the course up to higher levels of education. But art, just like any other skill can be acquired. And Kwizera affirms: “Yes I have talent, but I also went to Art school.”
Similarly, Andrew Aineamaani, a graduate of Industrial Art from Makerere University, says anybody with a passion and determination is eligible to study art. He says art is not only about drawing but about various activities that revolve around everyday life.
“People are not born who they are. It takes determination, hard work and passion to learn,” Aineamaani says, adding that art could be about anything such as designing, sculpting or drawing.
Aineamaani says when he was growing up, he did not know that he would draw but he later learnt that he could after serious practice while at school. “When I joined Mbarara High School in 2006 for my Senior One, the teacher asked us to discover our talents. I tried out several other things but I later learnt that I could draw. I concentrated on that and as time went by, I kept advancing the skill,” he recalls.
He says he continued with art up to university and after graduation, he started his own business.
“When I finished university, I did not sit at home or move around from office to office looking for a job like many graduates, instead, I started up my own workshop. I can draw a variety of art pieces but mostly portraits,” he explains.
According to Aineamaani, portraits range from Shs350,000 each to Shs8m, depending on size.
Just like Aineamaani, Ahmed Mande, another Industrial Fine Art graduate from Makerere University, says he is a visual artist and contemporary painter, who started way back while in primary school.
“Whenever, I was given an assignment, I would always be the first to complete it. But even after accomplishing my task, I would go ahead to draw for more than 40 per cent of my classmates,” he explains.
Source of income
Mande reveals he started commercial art in 2015 soon after completing his studies. “I have no regrets,” he states.
Though Mande admits he had a talent in art, he observes that somebody who thinks they are not naturally talented in art can also succeed in art.
“Anyone can be an artist provided they work hard at it. Institutions are there to train you but when you have the knowledge and resources, plus patience and the passion for learning new things, then you are good to go,” he notes.
For Kwizera, through art he has got a voice not only for himself but others too through political and social commentary but also a source of livelihood. “Art has saved my life by giving me clarity, an income, consciousness about life and helping me help others by passing on a few skills through teaching,” he reveals.
According to Erick Ssebuliba, a sculptor who also offers training to people with interests in that field, it takes concentration and patience for one to become a distinguished artist.
“When someone pays attention to something, they finally achieve results. If you want to be a better artist, you have to pay attention to detail, be creative as well as embrace research,” he says. Gone are the days when art was ridiculed as a wastage of time. Years have shown that art is a vocation that one can live off for a lifetime.