Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Art Fairs, Auctions and Exhibitions: contemporary African art, the art world’s ‘next big thing’

It’s that time of the year again, when you sit down to relax, share with friends and family, and enjoy the festive season. It is also time for some to reflect on the year that was and note the highs and the lows, the sweet and the sour.

Looking back, it seems a lot happened over the past two years in my professional career. I am probably thinking that this comes out of the huge the attention being given to modern and contemporary African Art by the art world. Many think that African contemporary fine art is the ‘next big thing’. According to Joost Bosland this attention has grown institutionally, in the art market and most noticeably in the press. Rachel Hamada notes that this growing inclination is within Africa among the wealthy to collect art made by artists within their culture and an increasing realization in Europe and America that African modern art can offer quality and diversity. There have been record sales for Africa art at auction houses, with experts at Bonhams confessing that their sales have been driven by an interest in Africa. The Auction Room, a new online auction platform, recently held an auction of African contemporary art that was well received.  
All this is very exciting for artists from the continent. To top it up, Angola’s success at the Venice Biennale this year is so much welcomed. Along with this excitement, there has been a steady and focused work flow from the studio on a consistent body of work since my last exhibition in June 2012 at Johans Borman Fine Art in Cape Town. Some of these works from this new collection have already been shown at various platforms in South Africa and London. My second exhibition is set to follow early next year in Cape Town.
What follows is a look back account of the exciting creative and contemporary art events that l took part in the year 2013.

SPI National Portrait Award, Rust-en- Vrede Gallery, Durbanville, Cape Town, South Africa

28 August 2013

The National Portrait Award, the first ever in South Africa, was held at Rust-en-Vrede gallery in Cape Town where 40 artists made it to the top 40 finalists in a hugely contested competition in which over 1700 entries were received. Sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments (SPI) the award is aimed to celebrate and showcase the best original portrait artwork in South Africa. The winning top price of R100 000 went to KZN artists Heather Gourlay-Conygham for her nude male portrait.
Mukwirikwiri (Foreigner), Acrylic on canvas (Part of traveling exhibition in South Africa)

Amongst the top 40 finalist pieces which culminated in a national touring exhibition, was an autobiographical artwork titled ‘Mukwirikwiri (foreigner)’. 'Mukwirikwiri' is a derogatory name given to foreign nationals by fellow South African citizens in the townships. This piece depicts an image of a traveling document, with a portrait of a young man migrating to one of Africa’s strongest economy in search of opportunities. It comments on issues of migration, xenophobia and homophobia.

FNB Joburg Art Fair, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg South Africa.

27-29 September 2013

In its 6th year, the FNB Joburg Art Fair is the largest art event on the continent and represents a large collection of African and South African contemporary art under one roof. With a turnover of about 1.7 million Euros, more than 20 000 visitors and 35 galleries from 6 countries from Africa and Europe, it is an honour for one to have their work showcased at this prestigious art event.

In the Shadow of the Rainbow, a group exhibition curated by Johans Borman Fine Art, featured three of my work. Considered to be one of the best exhibitions at the fair, this exhibition was a juxtaposition of old masters (Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba, Peter Clarke, Sydney Khumalo among others) and the new contemporary masters (Pieter Hugo, William Kentridge, GuyTillim, Brett Murray among other emerging masters). According to the curator, the objective of the exhibition was to draw attention to and stimulate debate on issues such as cultural differences, economic inequality, racial prejudice and the everyday realities of the Rainbow Nation and Africa.
The Chinese Tailor, Acrylic on canvas, 100x100cm (Private Collection)

The Chinese Tailor (acrylic on canvas), was one of the paintings which was part of this exhibition. This piece engaged the viewer and asked the most important question about China's economic and political motives in Africa.

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, London 
16-20 October 2013

The inaugural edition of the 1:54 Contemporary African art fair, which took place in the heart of London form the 16th  to 20 October 2013, was dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary art from the continent. It brought together 15 exhibitors from Africa and Europe to present over 70 emerging and established artists. The founding director of the fair, Touria El Glaoui, notes that 1:54 came into being through the emergence and growth of the international support for contemporary African art.

Among the many exhibitors at 1:54, the Museum of Modern Art Equatorial Guinea was unique is that it showcased the highlights of its permanent collection of art from the both the contemporary and traditional artworks. Curated by Marc Stanes, it focused on artists form a wide variety of African countries including those from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Senegal, Benin, Equatorial Guinea among others. It is no surprise that they got all the media attention. 

The Last Judgment, Acrylic on canvas, 200x165cm (Collection of MOMArt EG)

Included in the artworks on show was The Last judgement, a painting that depicts a scene of the final judgement in the political world in which judgement is being laid down for world politicians/leaders. It is a comment for justice for all.

Auction Room African Art Auction: Contemporary and Modern Art from Africa and the Diaspora.

18 October 2013, London   

An extensive range of important artworks from artists from Africa and it’s diaspora were up on auction at the inaugural edition of the Auction Room’s African Art auction: Contemporary and Modern Art from Africa and the Diaspora. According to Ed Cross, the African Art specialist at Auction Room, the online auction was a carefully selected to include a diverse range of artworks for the appeal of different collectors. Amongst the big names were Nigerian master Twins Seven Seven, El Anatsui, one of Africa’s greatest artists and a global ‘superstar’, George Lilanga, Goncalo Mabunda, Peter Clarke, Zwelethu Mthethwa among others.  

Coup d'etat, Acrylic on canvas, 95x65cm (sold above estimate)

Coup d’etat, a painting highlighting the extent of by which frustrations by the man on the street can lead to, was amongst this collection of important artworks at the auction. According to those close to the activities on the auction night, the artworks received a good response, selling above estimate.

As we say good bye to what was a very exciting year in the fine arts, we also look forward to yet another exhilarating year full of promises to take contemporary African fine art to a whole new level.  As an emerging artist, one is honoured to be part of this era in the rise of African fine art and artists on the international art scene.

I invite you to visit my website ( for regular updates on more creative events and thought provoking art in 2014.

I also take this opportunity to wish you all a happy festive season and trust you will enjoy it with family and friends. In closing, a recent article on the Wall Street Journal by Anna Russell, tweeted by @artnet ( interestingly noted that fine art is emerging as a highly accessible option for those seeking to expand their holiday giving list. So if you are seeking to share an original gift with friends and family in the form of an art piece, be sure to check out the available artworks at Johans Borman Fine Art by clicking here.

Merry Christmas!


Joost Bosland and Bomi Odofunde, Peer Conversation. Omenka Magazine, Volume 1 Issue 2, Published quarterly by Revilo, Lagos, 2013,

Ed Cross, The African Art Auction: Contemporary and Modern Art form Africa and the Diaspora, Auction Catalogue, Auction Room, London, 2013,

Touria El Glauoi, Foreword to the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair 2013 Catalogue, published by Art Africa Ltd, London.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The art of Art Fairs

Art fairs seem to be emerging all over. A good thing. All important for the art world, and more importantly for the African art world.

The FNB Joburg Art Fair, in its 6th year this year, is one of the many important art fairs that takes place annually on the African continent. This years fair took place at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg from the 27 to 29 September 2013, as always, a great fair, and it continues to grow by the years.

The Ayanda Mabulu painting and the controversy surrounding it during the art fair, was a victory for the freedom of expression and for visual artists in general. The media was out in full force to let the public know about the censorship and Ayanda won the spotlight. A few interesting media comments l read......

"Douglass and Labushagne decided this was too controversial for them and removed the painting. Really, what did they expect, for goodness’ sake............They claim they didn't want to offend any politicians who would be attending, because some of their funding comes from government. Well, there's the first problem. Art and governments don't mix. That's kinda the point of art. Government is by definition the establishment. Artists, also by definition, are anti-establishment. And so the two will always collide." Stephen Groote, Daily Maverick, 30 Sept 2013 <Link>

Another interesting article was on Business Day Live:

"....Nonetheless, it is understandable that Douglas expected a high-level backlash against a picture directly castigating President Jacob Zuma — as an individual or as a symbol of the state — in relation to the Marikana tragedy. The government’s inability to tolerate criticism has made politicians the last sacred cows. Crass treatment of the human body, profanity, religious iconoclasm and anything else that might offend the prudish viewer do not seem to fall into the same category; if they did, Mabulu’s other exhibited works would also have had to go......" Chris Thurman, BDLive, 3 Oct 2013 <Link>

These two interested me, amongst the whole lot that was over the press about this. l have two points to make though.

One, whilst l am glad for Ayanda and delighted for the victory of the visual arts against censorship, l feel that, altogether, it was a bit unfair on the part of the art world in that all was focused on that, and neglected the other great artworks that were part of the fair. It took away from the other important and great artworks that were part of the fair. There were less or no media focus on other great artworks from artists like Mohau Modisakeng, Ed Young, Nnenna Okore, Ayanda Jackson, Mary Sibande, Norman Catherine, Valerie Belin among others, whom l personally thought their work was great and powerful. (see pictures here)

Ayanda Mabulu, 'Yakhal'inkomo' (Pic: City Press)
Two, l also stress the need for the artwork to come first and the message after. In other words, the artwork must be skillfully and well executed, correct in terms of all visual conventions - perspective, composition, anatomy of figures, colour. There is a thin line between distorting elements and failure by an artist to depict elements, for example, hands, feet, human anatomy.  For it is the artworks that remains after all has been said and done. An important and powerful artwork must remain timeless. One that comes to mind is the Guernica painted by Picasso in 1937. This painting is a strong and powerful political statement painted as a immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War. It remains famous and widely acclaimed until today.

Guernica, 1937, Picasso

This month l also look forward to the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair taking place at Somerset House in London from 16-20 October 2013, the Frieze London from 17 - 20 October 2013 and the Art For Me in Cape Town from 25 - 27 October 2013.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

SPI South African National Portrait Award 2013 Finalist

SPI South African National Portrait Award 2013 Top 40

Mukwirikwiri (foreigner), Acrylic on canvas, 100x70cm
Mukwirikwiri (2013) Acrylic on canvas
l am pleased to announce that my portrait "Mukwirikwiri /Foreigner" (Acrylic on Canvas, 100x70cm) was chosen as one of the 40 finalist portraits from a staggering 1 792 adjudicated entries in the first ever National Portrait Award in South Africa sponsored by Sanlam Private Investments.  The award, which aims to celebrate and showcase the best original portrait artwork in South Africa, was announced at a ceremony at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery in Durbanville, Cape Town on 27 August 2013.

It is available for sale and part of an exhibition of the selected works to be held at Rust-en-Vrede Gallery until 8 October, whereafter the 40 works will tour South Africa in an exhibition presented in collaboration with the Sanlam Art Collection. The national touring exhibition can be seen at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery from 24 October to 13 November, and at Stephan Welz & Co at the Alphen Estate in Constantia, Cape Town, from 26 November to 10 January 2014. It will be hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts during April 2014.

The award was worth R100 000 and congratulations to the winner.
Click here for more information about the painting. 
Click here for enquiries and to view the entire exhibition at Rust en Vrede Gallery in Cape Town

Monday, August 12, 2013

Greg Shaw- 'When two colours meet, they form a line'. A tribute to a great mentor: (Memoirs Part II)

In a corner, l sat with my short pencils l had bought with for my first art lesson, in the amphitheater that was behind Gallery Delta, in Harare. Around me were boys in khaki shorts and shirts, drawing on very large pieces of paper. And in the middle of the amphitheater sat a model to whom they were drawing.

That afternoon, before l sat in that corner, l stood next to Greg Shaw, my then new art mentor, who introduced to the students of his afternoon art class and mentioned l was to join them. l enjoyed that day, l drew the model to the best that l could, and at the end of the lesson, all the students would lay their work out for Greg to give us a critic. l didn't do bad, he said. Was proud! This was the structure of all the classes he gave in that year, a critic session at the end.

Greg Shaw with his work in progress 'Hondo: (Source - Courtesy of the artist's blog)
Greg was assisting these students to prepare them for the art exams at the end of the year. The emphasis was more on drawing and observation - still life, figure drawing -  then later on he introduced colour composition. Hands, roots, ants and dead preserved animals (frogs/birds) were and other objects were part of the subjects the students drew or painted. Greg was a great teacher and mentor, he had good attention to detail, a great draughtsman and excellent drawing skills. I was blessed to be part of these classes and learnt valuable skills.
Greg Shaw, Seated Nude, 2000, oil on canvas. (Source: Courtsy of the artist's blog)

For most part of  2000, every Friday afternoon after school, l would rush home, get out of my school uniform and off into the city for my art lessons. l was very grateful to my parents who supported me with transport money to go into the city for these lessons. That was my first year of my art education.

Greg Shaw (b.1972) is a contemporary established Zimbabwean artist painter. View more of his work on this blog link

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Allen Kupeta and Helen Lieros- 'When two colours meet, they form a line'. A tribute to great mentors: (Memoirs Part I)

Fourteen years ago on an afternoon in 1999, a 14 years old boy stands at the entrance of a gallery in Livingstone Street, Harare, Zimbabwe. Next to him was his sister, Linda, who had accompanied him as she felt the city was to big for him to navigate alone. On the veranda of the white paint walled gallery, stood this an old woman with long grey hair. And sitting down on the chair next to him was a old man with white hair and a huge beard.

That boy was me. The old woman was artist and mentor Helen Lieros. The old man was Dereck Huggins. The gallery was Gallery Delta. This was the beginning of what l would call my apprenticeship. Looking at the little drawings of rural Zimbabwean scenes (huts and animals) and cartoon characters I had bought to show them, after Derek had invited me to the gallery after corresponding through letters, I was  advised to focus more on drawing, and to draw objects in real life as opposed to copying from a photograph.

Helen Leiros. Artist and mentor.  (Photo courtesy of

Allen Kupeta, artist, mentor and friend (image source: Allen's Facebook account)

Derek Huggins. Gallerist and Director at Gallery Delta, Harare (Photo courtesy of 

I immediately began to focus on my drawing skills, concentrating on seeing and observing rather than just looking. I drew everyday.

Then a few months later, Allen Kupeta, Hatitye and other young and emerging artist who was staying in Chitungwiza, a town outside Zimbabwe's capital Harare. They were art students at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe workshop studio (then known as BAT Studios). They inspired me with their drawings of figures, still lives and brightly coloured paintings of street scenes of Mbare and Chitungwiza. I asked if they could assist me in my quest to learn to be an artist and Allen Kupeta agreed to help.

Everyday after school, I would walk in the dusty street of New Zengeza 5 to Allen's studio located at his parents house, which was then under construction, and he would instruct me focus on drawing, handing to me a number of newsprint paper to draw various objects that we found in his studio. I would sit  next to him and observe in admiration how he was painting in his studio. I focused on drawing, and drew for a long period of time.

I drew a bottle of coke about 20 times until l got the shape right. Other objects were cups, teapots plates, fruits, clothes, shoes among other objects over and over and over again. Allan will critic these drawing, pointing out errors and requiring me to do the drawing over again again until l got the shapes and the tonal values right. He would instruct me on fundamentals that he himself was learning as an art student at the BAT workshop/studios - aspects like shape, line, perspective, tones (from dark to light), form, depth, line and composition. 

However over a few months, I got better. So I went to show Helen and Derek my new work, and they could see I had been busy. Helen then gave me task to do, writing them on a sheet of paper for me to do at home and bring back for feedback. And I drew again and again. Went back to show Helen, and back again to draw and draw. I enjoyed drawing. I drew my mum's plates, tea pots, cups as well as bottles, clothes and a variety of other objects. For about a year, I drew.

A year later, Helen introduced me to Greg Shaw, a respected Zimbabwean painter and art teacher,  who at the time was conducting Friday afternoon lessons with art students from St Johns in the amphitheater at Gallery Delta. I joined that class

Then began a whole new dimension into my art education.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare: the journey 2006-2010

In early 2006, I participated in the first 3 man exhibition I organized and curated at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare titled "Our Thoughts". I still remember that time, young, inexperienced, poor, confused and an unknown bunch of young artists. We traveled by night by train from Harare to Mutare, our artworks in baggage section of the train. Arriving early morning in Mutare, on our first visit ever to the Eastern Highlands city, some of our artworks were damaged, and with empty stomachs, we got lost from the train station to the gallery. No one had a cellphone, we could not contact the gallery for direction and had to ask for directions from people in the streets. 

From left: Wallen Mapondera, Inzwai Mushowe, Enos Mangaku and Richard Mudariki (from the Archival Records of the artist)
Lost and walking around in the city with our paintings and drawings wrapped in plastics and cloth, we eventually arrived at the gallery to the warm welcome of Judy Mutunhu, the then Regional Director of the gallery. We did not sell any work on the exhibition, but it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Mutare.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe im Mutare. Entrance into the gallery: Photo Credit: Wallen Mapondera (from the Archival records of the artist)

I am very grateful for that experience, it taught me that one must go out and find opportunities. And there will be setbacks and difficulties, but such is life. For the next 3 years, we held 3 man exhibitions at the National Gallery and commanded a good following. we made friends - Katharine Prescott-Decie Schneeberger being one of the many, who supported the 3 young artists with their efforts. And more importantly, in 2008 we held an exhibition as part of the Africa University Arts Festival, an important event in the City of Mutare.
Newspaper article: The Herald Feb. 2008 (from Archival Records of the artist)
It gave the group confidence and was good for letting our names be known by the arts community of Mutare. l would like to also recognize Judy Mutunhu (Regional Director in 2006), Elizabeth Muusha (current Regional Director) Mr Chikukwa (gallery manager) Richard Mawere ( a good friend who has supported our efforts and helped us with accommodation), Dr Mutunhu, Dr T. Chitepo, representatives from the Mayor of Mutare and the City of Mutare as well as all those that I may not have mention at this point in time.

The yearly visits to this city made me fall in love with this ever green and mountainous city full of lovely Manyika people. One day, when I am old as vintage wine, I will retire in that mountainous city

From Left: Wallen Mapondera, Richard Mudariki, Inzwai Mushohwe in 2008 (from the Archival records of the artist)

2006: Our Thoughts, NGZ Mutare, Mutare, Zimbabwe
2007: Our Sixth Sense, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe
2008: Onai, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe
2009: Africa University Arts Festival, Group Exhibition, NGZ Mutare
2010:, NGZ Mutare, Zimbabwe

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Artist Marketing Tip: Request a photo of artwork recently purchased

This post is on a simple tip that will help artists to  turn your sales into marketing tools for future sales.

It is largely encouraged that artists follow up after every sale with a thank-you note. According to Jason Horejs, this thank-you note adds a warm, personal touch that will let your clients know you truly appreciate their business. He advices to add in your thank-you note a request get a picture of the artwork you sold them that will be of incredible value to you in your future marketing efforts.

The thank-you note is this:
'.....If you have a moment and would be willing to snap a photograph of the piece, I would love to see it in its new home, and I’d love to share the photo with clients who are considering my work. You can email the photo to me at'
This simple request can results in a photo or several photos of the piece. Some customers will enjoy showing the piece off and love the thought of helping the artist’s career along. the best situationis when the customer also write a little note to accompany the photo, sharing their feelings about the piece.
'The Cellphone Age', Acrylic on canvas, 2012

You may adapt the photo request to suit each individual situation, based on the relationship you built with the customer.

The Cellphone Age in clients home.

So now you have a photo of the piece in a beautiful setting and you can post to your website, your blog or your social media platforms. Future potential buyers will be influenced and encouraged when they see your work in other collectors’ homes. When they buy, you’ll ask them for photos, and the cycle continues.

Don’t be shy about asking – the worst that can happen is the client will ignore the request, but no one is going to be offended that you asked.

By the way, it’s never too late to ask for this photo. Getting in touch with past clients to ask for a photo of artwork is not only a great way to get the image, it’s a great excuse to get back in touch with a past buyer and remind them of your work.
The painting with the clients other collection

Adopted from Lason Harejs (

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Of museums, art and the International Museum Day: 18 May

Its afternoon, in class, books and pens on my little desk, a man walks in and stands in front of us. The room goes quite, we stare at him. He stares back. He is our lecturer for 'musueology' or museum studies or MUS we would call it.

And this man begins to write on the chalkboard.....

..........Museology:- the study of how to organize and manage museums and museum collections.

Museologist: a professional who works in the museum environment.................

That was in 2005, some 9 years ago and for the next 4 years of my life l was to learn what  museology was all about, and wishing that one day I could become a museologist. Quite a fancy title I think.

"Hie, my name is Richard, I am a museologist"

Museology was a subject that I took keen interest in, (as a student of a new graduate program introduced at a Zimbabwean university*) and it involved object documentation, preventive conservation, display and interpretation methods, storage, security. It also dealt with more recent issues focused today on the museum users. An important aspect as museums need visitors and museum professionals today need updated know-how regarding visitor behaviour patterns, market segments, branding, education, and publicity.

In many museums today, museologists are often subject experts on the museum collections they handle, for example modern art, ancient history, zoology, or even a period or place in history. Museologists also work in galleries as curators, museum educationists, exhibition coordinators, consultants, among other roles.

Well, I did not become a museologist after all, but others did. However, I became an artist, still in the cultural spheres, and a maker of a cultural object that tells a story that one day will provide information on the modern art of the 21st Century to a future generation. Some of my work is part of a large collection of African art at the Museum of Modern Art EG in Equatorial Guinea.

The Goat Interview, Acrylic on Canvas, 2011. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art EG

The Museum of Modern Art- Equatorial Guinea's collection shows traditional and contemporary artworks from across Africa and encompasses pieces by some of the regions best known creators. The Museum seeks to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Africa’s diverse people and culture through the arts. (

The Gentleman's Game, Acrylic on canvas, 2011, Collection of the Museum of Modern Art EG

I have great respect for those in the museum and cultural heritage sector, as I feel it is a very important profession, especially in the context of Africa, in which the indigenous communities take pride in becoming the keepers and managers of our own heritage, unlike to having alien individuals studying thier past and telling them where they come from.The school system must have subjects and programs that allow the new generation to have an appreciation of the importance and role of museums and museum professionals (museologists).

This year, the museum community celebrates international museum day under the theme Museum (memory + creativity) = social change . Museums taking part in these celebrations will interpret an issues that is important in the museum environment and gives an opportunity for museum professionals to meet their public.

 I wish all museologists a happy International Museum Day

Click here to visit the international museum day official website.

*Richard holds a BA Honours degree in Archaeology, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies from the Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zimbabwe at the 55th Venice Biennale

Considered  to be the Olympics of the visual arts, the Venice Biennale is a few weeks away.The art world biggest event kicks off on the 1st June and runs until November 2013 in Venice, Italy. Zimbabwe, one of the 3 African countries at the event, has selected five artists to represent the country at the 55th Venice Biennale, Italy. According to the National Gallery's Facebook Page, it seems all is set.

The five-month exhibition will see Voti Thebe, Rashid Jogee, Virginia Chihota, Portia Zvavahera and Michele Mathison exhibiting at Zimbabwe Pavilion in Venice, Italy. Speaking to the Curator of the Pavilion, Raphael Chikukwa some weeks ago, he said in the selection of the artists, care was made to represent different religions, races and gender in the mix of the artists. I was pleased to see the inclusion of Virginia Chihota and Portia Zvavahera, two emerging female visual artists who l believe are going to be very successful at the Biennale.

According to the Chronicle, the commissioner of the exhibition, Doreen Sibanda says Zimbabwe’s exhibition which is jointly organised by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture will be the second for the country. “Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture has been officially invited to participate in this prestigious event that is fondly been referred to as the Olympics for the world of visual art" she said

I wish all the artists all the very best and look forward to another successful showcase of Zimbabwe's finest visual art.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Artist Online Profile

'The internet is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool, artists and the art business included. More and more art will be sold online, and artists' websites will eventually become the primary vehicles for showing work and presenting credentials (assuming this hasn't happened already). Even at this early evolutionary stage, you can make the internet work for you, but you have to do it in conjunction with traditional ways of getting your art out there like showing wherever and whenever you get the chance, networking within your art community, participating in juried and non-juried shows, and so on. Assuming you're doing all of this and more, and assuming you're respectful of any galleries or agents who represent you, here are some ways to spiff up your online profile.

Most important, buy a domain name like or and have it hosted by a hosting service. DO NOT use free websites, web space you get from your internet provider, or web space on your friend's scented candle and incense site. Free websites degrade your art with annoying third-party vibrating banner ads and pop-up windows (your art and offshore gambling - what a great combination!). Free sites and/or web space from your internet provider are hard for search engines to find, and tacking your webpage onto someone else's website makes your art look like an afterthought or a hobby rather than something you take seriously.

Once you've got a domain name, make that website about one thing and one thing only-- YOUR ART. Do not show pictures of your dog, talk about your garden, or drone on about how bovine growth hormone is depleting the ozone layer unless, of course, these passions represent integral aspects of your art.' (Alan Bamberger, Creating your online profile and sell more art,

Visit my website  by clicking here and leave your comment in my guestbook.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Social Media for Artists - 25 Do Not Tips to Help Artists Accomplish Art Marketing Goals (Part 2)

 Social networking websites, can be great ways to spread the word about your art. As with any communication model, though, one has to know how to use it in order to get where you want to go. This part 2 concentrates more on Facebook and lists the don'ts, recommendations and suggestions is designed to help you accomplish your art-related goals with maximal benefits to you...

1.If you don't do it in real life, don't do it on Facebook. As impersonal as Facebook might seem sometimes, your actions effect real people with real feelings.

2.Whatever you do, DON'T ASK PEOPLE FOR MONEY-- especially people you don't even know!

3 Don't post only about yourself. Boring. Bring others into the conversation. There's much much more to life than you, plus the fact that people prefer to visit pages where they can dialogue with others, get informed, share information, learn interesting things, be exposed to different ways of living and thinking, and so on.

4 There's no need to call your page "X Artist" or "X Fine Art" or "Art by X." That's being redundant. What's important is to format your page in a way that makes it instantly obvious to anyone who visits that they're on the page of an artist.

5.Don't tag someone unless what you're tagging is a photo of that person (or a photo they took), or a post or link or thread that they're likely to be interested in. For example, do not tag self-promotions, show announcements or images of your art with the names of people you want to see it. That's super irritating, plus now they'll have to waste time untagging it (and maybe unfriending you as well). Tag images of your art with people's names when it's portraits of them-- and that's it.

6. If most or all of your information is private, don't friend strangers without first introducing yourself or explaining who you are or the nature of your request. If people have no idea who you are and can't find out anything from your page, then what reason do they have to friend you?

7. Don't spam or send mass emails or messages. If you're sending an announcement or invitation or request to more than one person, make sure the reason you're sending it has something to do with them. "Look at me" or "Look at my art" are not good reasons. If you're having an event, make an event page and invite friends that way. And absolutely don't use apps to spam friends on your behalf.

8. If you make an event page, do not post repeatedly on it. Posting over and over again is really irritating for all of us who either can't come or have no interest. Even we who are coming are likely to get tired of post after post after post. Those of us who can no longer endure your barrage are forced to remove your page from our calendars. We know you're having an event; thank you for inviting us. Now that we've been invited, remind us maybe once or twice between now and whenever it's happening. That's more than enough... and best of all, it keeps us on your good side.

9. Don't add people to a group you're either starting or already belong to unless you ask their permission first. If they don't want to be in the group, they're forced to go to the group's page and leave.

10. Don't ask people you don't know for free stuff-- merchandise, favors, advice, services or whatever. Either have a good reason for asking them (one that they can understand and appreciate), cultivate a relationship with them first, ask whether they mind if you make a request, etc.

11. Don't use "Facebook Questions" to ask your friends questions en masse. This is too impersonal a way to start a conversation-- especially if you're asking for feedback about your art or for other types of personal opinions. If you have a question for someone, ask it more personally-- like in an email, or if you know them, in a chat. Or if you do use "Facebook Questions," first explain why you're asking your question... and then ask it.

13. Don't post video after video of your favorite music or other non-art related topics unless they directly apply to either you as an artist or to the type of art that you make. Are you in this for art or are you in this for music or whatever? Make up your mind. Plus, supposing someone likes your art, but hates your music? Now you're screwed.

14. Don't post on someone's wall unless that post has something to do with that person, that person's interests, something to do with a particular post on their page, or something you know they or their friends will be interested in seeing. If it's all about you and has nothing to do with them, save it for later when you know them better and they'll understand what you're up to.

15. Don't post your response to a discussion thread separately on the wall of the person whose thread it is. Post it in the thread. Posting outside the thread just makes you look like you're more interested in calling attention to yourself than you are in contributing to the thread. Plus, those participating in the thread will not see your post.

16. Don't use other people's discussion threads to promote yourself or your art-- unless those threads closely relate in some way to your art, or your comment or promotion relates in a direct and significant way to the post.

17. Don't post unflattering photos, unrelated links or photos, or inappropriate links and comments on other people's pages.

18. Don't initiate chats with people you don't know-- especially if your only reason is for them to look at your art, come to your show, go to your website, answer questions, or respond to other requests. If you want to chat with someone you don't know, email them first and ask whether it's OK.

19. Don't send app or game requests to friends who don't use those or other apps or games. Visit their pages first to see whether they use any now, and assess how likely they might be to accept an invitation to use the ones that you use. If acceptance looks unlikely, don't make the request.

20. Don't clog your page with games and apps. People who might be interested in your art but aren't interested in apps or games are unlikely to waste time plowing through oceans of irrelevancies. Plus an overload of games and apps makes you look like your diddling your life away rather than focusing on your profession as an artist.

21. Don't email people to ask what they think of your art or your website or whatever. Post these requests on your page and ask your questions there. That way, you give everyone the option of responding without pressuring them. Forcing people to look at or respond to your art is uncomfortable for them and counterproductive for you.

22. Never mislead or misrepresent your intentions. For example, don't email someone a link to what looks like an article about social justice or the environment when it's really a request for them to look at a piece of your art that relates to those topics.

23. Don't ask friends to do things for you unless they're actually your friends-- like in real life-- or you can explain the nature of your request in terms they can relate to and understand. Better yet, position your requests so that there's something in it for whomever you're asking.

24. If you email someone to ask them for a favor and they email you back to decline, then send them an email thanking them for at least considering your request. Simply not responding because you didn't get what you wanted is really rude-- and makes you look really self-centered.

25. Don't be a taker. Facebook is not a vehicle for you to try to sponge up as much free information, advice, favors, feedback and other perks for yourself and your art as possible. If you want to get somewhere, give first; ask later. The more you give, the more you get back in return. People are far more likely to respond positively to your requests once you've made yourself available to them in some sort of constructive capacity first.

Alan Bamberger

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Social Media for Artists - 19 Tips to Help Artists Accomplish Art Marketing Goals (Part 1)

Social networking websites (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+) can be great ways to spread the word about an artist's artwork. As with any communication model, though, one has to know how to use it in order to get where you want to go. Facebook is no panacea and just because you sign on doesn't automatically mean your art world profile is destined for success. The following list of do's,  recommendations and suggestions is designed to help artists accomplish  art-related goals with maximal benefits.

The Do's of social media.
1.Treat other people as you would in real life. Just because you can't see them and they can't see you is no reason to conduct yourself in a manner other than how you would conduct yourself if you were speaking to them in person.

2. Update regularly. Very few people will return to a page that's updated once a month or less. If they return at all, guess how often they'll return? About as often as you update... if that.

3. Decide why you're on Facebook and focus on that. What do you want people to know about you and your art? Why are you here? What are your goals and expectations? The better you understand and maintain focus on your motivations and intentions, the better others will understand them as well.

4. Decide how public or private you want to be. If you are on Facebook for public reasons, especially to advance the cause of your art, then make your profile and postings as public as you feel comfortable doing. The more private you make yourself and the less accessible you are, the more difficulty people will have trying to communicate with you. Plus if everything's private, then you give the impression that you don't want to communicate anyway.

5.For easy cross-posting and cross-referencing, make sure that your username is identical on all social networking sites that you use. And the best name to use is the one you sign your art with.

6. Be consistent in the content of your postings. Unified posts on similar topics or with similar purposes make it easier for people to understand who you are and where you're coming from.

7. Make it interesting. Develop a story line or a theme or a plotline or a position or an opinion or whatever; make people want to return repeatedly to your page for the next exciting episode. Facebook is kind of like a blog in real time-- and an interactive one at that. The possibilities to actively involve others in your drama are limitless.

8. Give people a good reason to visit (and revisit) your page. Offer something; tangible or intangible makes no difference... as long as it's something. For example, talk candidly about your art or your day-to-day life as an artist-- your challenges, triumphs, inspirations, perspectives, and more. Make it more than simply about you. Make it something that others can be part of, learn from, gain insight from, relate to, share or participate in, comment on, or respond to.

9. If you want people to see your art, give them a good reason. A good reason is more than "look at my art." A good reason includes the viewer and at least intimates some benefit for them. Post about your time in the studio, sourcing ideas, the progress of particular works, your process, your goals, the purpose of your art, your broader mission as an artist, and so on.

10. If you want particular gallery owners, dealers or anyone else in the art community to look at your art or your website, or you want to know whether they can help you in any way or even give you a show, make sure IN ADVANCE that they're involved in some way with art that's similar to yours, and represent or assist artists whose credentials or career experiences are comparable to yours. Because you're an artist and they're a gallery is NOT an adequate reason to make contact.

11. Participate in other people's postings, especially those who you'd like to know better. The best way to show people you care is to contribute or respond to their postings. Being generous and taking the time to focus on others is appreciated as much on Facebook as it is anywhere else.

12. Get to know people gradually-- just like in real life. Friendships evolve over time. Respond to their posts, "like" their posts, "like" their art and maybe-- very occasionally at first-- send them a short supportive or complimentary email.

13. If you're looking for feedback or input about your art, offer feedback or input on the work of other artists or art people who you respect or appreciate-- assuming their posts invite those kinds of responses.

14. Use chat functions sparingly, especially with people you hardly know or don't know at all. If you must, then have a really good reason for starting a conversation, and ask first whether the other person is busy or whether they have a moment to speak with you... before getting into your agenda. Initiating a Facebook chat is no different than walking up to someone at an art opening or anywhere else and starting a conversation.

15. Think about who you want to friend and why. If someone you want to friend doesn't know you, briefly explain why you are friending them. This is especially important if most or all of your personal information is private and the person you're friending doesn't know who you are.

16. Review a potential friend's publicly available information on Facebook AND elsewhere before friending them. That way, you'll be better able to explain yourself in case they ask who you are. Better yet, explain yourself in advance. Nothing complicated is necessary here; a well-worded sentence or two will do just fine.

17. If someone requests your friendship, review their available information on Facebook AND elsewhere before friending them. If you're not sure why they are friending you, ask. Make sure that you have at least some form of connection or commonality with everyone who asks to be your friend-- especially with respect to your art. The purpose of Facebook is not to pile up friends for no reason other than to have piles of friends. All that does is distract you from your efforts. The purpose of Facebook is to initiate and hopefully establish mutually beneficial relationships.

18. When you post images of your art to your page, choose examples with thumbnails that resolve clearly and entice people to want to click over to the full-sized images. Images of your art may look great in full size, but if you can't get people to click over to view them, then what good are they?

19. Caption all images of your art. This is essential-- especially for people who are viewing it for the first time. Provide enough background information or explanatory about it so that people who are not that familiar with you or your art will have a better understanding of your work and a sense of who you are as an artist. One to three sentences will be adequate in most cases.
Alan Bamberger


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Institutionalized Brutality - Mido Macia

Over the past few months there have been growing reports of police brutality in South Africa and the lack of trust to those you are supposed to protect communities.Recently a taxi driver was dragged by a police van and later on dies in custody from his injuries.
Grilled, acrylic on canvas, 2012. Artwork inspired by institutionalized brutality and murder by police, governments and leaders

According to the Mail and Guardian, there are plenty of theories on why police beat up citizens (and foreigners) with impunity: a brutalized society that never fully healed after apartheid; the high level of threat faced by police officers and their sense of being under siege; little proactive investigation of police excesses; remilitarisation of the police force that failed to instil discipline but did come with "shoot to kill" overtones; and orders to be tough on crime and criminals - orders that come right from the top.

However, regardless of cause or combination of causes, blame must ultimately be laid at the door of either Mthethwa (SA Police Minister) or the president, who has failed to replace him after both have been in their jobs for more than four years. That he will remain in his job speaks both to the fact that the government does not share the public's outrage.
RIP Mido Macia