What you need to know:
- Art, freedom and creativity will change the society faster than politics.
- The future is great if only we decide to think out of the box.
Painting is a self-discovery path, and it’s often said that a painter reflects his or her identity. Bernard Mwangi is an old master of artistic creativity from Nairobi, Kenya. At a tender age of 29, through research and experiments, he has brought out a creative and authentic aspect to cultural art, one that is unprecedented. Showing us how to utilise and monetise your talent as a young man in this day and time, here is what he had to say to Life&Style.
Who is the person behind the spectacular art?
Just your ordinary guy, full of “swag.” More importantly, I am skilled in artistic work and design. For the past six years, I have been involved in creating masterpieces, whose scheme is to light up one’s heart with delight. That is what I term as “art in the dark”; a glowing art experience.
How did you discover that you were an artist?
My craft dates back to when I was still in high school. Premature, yet so intent on finding something that I would come up with, as a complete awestruck master piece. This was my daily motivation. However, patience is an art as well, which I needed to learn so that I could be able to achieve greatness.
Upon completing my education, I resolved to join those creators who, to me, had donned the ''guru'' title in art. I would assist them in drawing the paintings, then later on help them to advertise and market them on different social media platforms. The sad part was that I wasn’t getting a single dime from all this. Ultimately, the hard work paid and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I tremendously improved on my skills and creativity, and to top it up, I acquired great advertising and marketing techniques as well.
“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master,” the adage goes. I broke free and engaged in my own art work. My artistry improved immensely and I positioned myself top bar in the industry.
“Art glow” is a very authentic aspect that makes your work stand out. How did you come up with that concept?
Creativity literally lives within us. It is just a matter of thinking outside the box and diving into deep research.
One day, as I was walking around my home area, I came across several M-Pesa-lit posters on different shops., They fascinated me and lit up my soul each time I passed by. A thought flashed through my mind: what if I created lights like these to go hand in hand with my paintings? Could they brighten up someone’s mood just like they do to me? Truly, art is not what you see but what you make others see.
I sourced for a loop to getting those specific lights. I got a friend who used to import wiring lights, so I made an order too. I received three pieces at first, which I used in my initial projects. First trials definitely went sour. I kept on improvising the craft creatively. But the lights I was using were not well suited for the task, the super glue did not hold the wires into place, then the wiring itself was also poorly connected.
But I was still determined to actualise my goal, no matter what. While watching a certain film on TV, I learnt how the same lights were fixed on some billboards. I eventually learnt to do it and within a short time, the paintings were up and selling like hot doughnuts!
You have learnt to commercialise your talent through art. What is the business aspect of it?
Young people should learn to utilise and monetise their different talents. Talents are in-born, you just need to find a therapeutic aspect in them. I advertise my paintings on social media platforms as well. I have no physical shop, however, my remarkable marketing skills have done it all for me.
The paintings vary upon cash value, depending on the amount of work put in to accomplish a piece. As low as Sh 5,000 to as high as Sh 100,000. On good days I can end up selling three pieces of art that give me about Sh15,000-30,000 a day.
The only challenge comes in when importing the lights and fixing tools, because they are a little bit costly and at times they take too long to ship.
Does each painting have a theme or a significant meaning attached to it?
On a day-to-day basis, I strive to create something new and authentic on each painting. “No clichés allowed” Is my mantra. I tend to dwell more on female portraits. Reason being, ladies are the ones who support my work mostly as opposed to men.
Tell me about the best feedback you have ever received from your clients
The best feedback has to be when a client offers you more cash than the painting is valued, just because they appreciate your work. It also goes as far as others referring more clientele to you, and this melts my heart entirely.
Who is your role model in the art industry?
It has to be Leonardo da Vinci. I get my inspiration from his paintings.
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.” His legacy still lives on.
Where do you see the future of cultural art in Kenya, say, in the next one decade?
Art, freedom and creativity will change the society faster than politics. The future is great if only we decide to think out of the box.