How to earn from art

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Kenya is a youthful country, with almost three-quarters of the population under the age of 30. This is according to the World Population Review. In a country with such a young population, the greatest challenge we face is the rising rate of unemployment.

For creative and artistic youth, the picture seems even bleaker. On the surface, it seems like there are few opportunities for artists to use their talents to feed themselves and their families in Kenya’s job market, but this is not necessarily the case.

First, traditional modes of artistic talent and design ability are still heavily sought after in the general job market, even in today’s modern digital world. Drawing is a foundational skill required for many well-paying jobs that can lead to fruitful careers.

For example, engineers of all disciplines must have a high degree of drawing ability to render, design and build complex machinery and objects.

Architects, engineers, graphic designers, and product designers, all these jobs require creativity and artistic talent.

Outside of these institutionalised careers, however, there is no place for art and artistic talent in the job market. Artistic ability is seen to have no utility unless it contributes to the design of technology and infrastructure.

However, there are many ways you can profit as a freelance artiste outside of the conventional transaction of selling paintings and art objects in galleries and museums.

Photography, for example, can be a lucrative profession if one has an aptitude for it.

Almost every avenue of our modern lives is captured by photography. Photography is essential to market and advertises the millions of products that are sold every day in Kenya’s marketplace.

The number of opportunities to profit from your aptitude in photography are limitless, as there will always be people who want their weddings, baby showers, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries, events, parties, funerals, and church services photographed.

Another thing which is important for us to realise as creatives is that we live in a digital age, and there are many ways to profit from one’s creativity in a world which has been turned into a global village through the sheer power of internet connectivity and advancements in technology.

Whereas the market for conventional artworks like painting and sculpture is small, the market for art in the global digital realm is growing exponentially. In this digital realm, creativity is currency, as the digital space must first and foremost be designed and curated by digital artistes, designers and creative coders.

As more and more businesses move onto digital platforms, they rely on creatives and designers to make their platforms attractive and vibrant to attract traffic and customers.

The average salary for a web designer with less than two years of work experience can be up to Sh60,000 a month according to the Kenyan web design firm, Conquest Capital.

Furthermore, the coding and design techniques needed to be a web designer can be learned completely for free online through any number of courses on open access platforms such as YouTube without having to cough out tuition fees for university.

Times are trying for young Kenyans who face the reality of unemployment coinciding with a rocky global economy and unsustainable high local taxation. Furthermore, the pandemic exacerbated the existing problems of corruption and nepotism that plagues our job market.

However, there are unending opportunities for you to profit from your creativity both locally and on global digital platforms as an artiste, be it as a freelancer or employed in the careers listed herein. The world wide web has provided us with an avenue to be creative entrepreneurs in our own right. 

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