Social media platforms have given us the ability to share our daily lives to our friends and other people at large. One of the core features of these social networks is the ability to share media (photos and videos) to our friends and acquaintances which is a great thing for artists. In the past, artists used to rely on art exhibitions, street fairs or galleries to display their art but in this age, they can just open an account on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and share these images or videos.
We interviewed Ian Muindi, a budding artist who has used his social media accounts to showcase his sketches which have been shared widely across social media and makes a living from it!
Tell us about yourself.
I am Ian Muindi. I’m a visual artist specializing in pencil drawing (graphite and all that).
Are you a student or is this your occupation?
This is my daily work.
Did you teach yourself or is this talent?
I’d say both. Talent plus a little bit of teaching by peers and mentors. After school, I went to someone who was really good at this at work and he really helped me a lot. He gave me tips of what to do and not what to do and the business part of it too.
Do you do specific sketches or just general sketches?
I can do anything what comes into mind. I’m not limited to one thing in particular but mostly people know me for portraits. I also do other forms of art but the main thing now is portraits.
You talked about your materials, which are they?
I use different kinds of papers: Canson, ivory and cartridge papers. The tools include charcoal, pencils and colour pencils. I can mix the three or use one.
What is the process when you do a sketch?
Well it varies. Sometimes it is when I’m scrolling through pages and I see a striking photo, a photo that I feel like I’d like to draw it. Other times is when I see people that I admire and I feel like drawing a portrait of this person. In addition, I get challenges from people, like someone comes to you and says “ah! Can you make a drawing of this and this?”
Do you have a website that you store all of these?
Yeah I have a website but it has technical issues right now but it is there. I’m waiting for it to be sorted out.
So you’ve been resulting in posting these pictures on your social media accounts?
I mostly use my social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram…these are my mostly used social media accounts. Other platforms that I use include Behance.net (what about Deviantart) Oh yeah, actually that was the first online platform that I ever saw for art. I created an account and I don’t know what happened.
Back to your social media accounts, what has been the reaction?
I’ve been getting positive feedback from people across the platforms, people asking me for tips from some beginning artists. It is really motivating.
Where do you see the highest engagement?
It varies from Instagram to Twitter.
Have you noticed other artists?
There are many artists I admire and look up to. There is one artist, Elias Mung’ore, he is really good, there is also Seth Sketcher, Kabue…Ramadhan Hamisi (6:31do they do the same thing) Some do the same work I do, some different.
You said that this was your full time job, has anyone come to you to do a paid sketch?
I normally get that a lot, that is my source of income at the moment. I post my works on social media and almost every time, I get a person or two who wants a painting or a portrait done.
Which are the various sketches that you’ve done?
I have done so many personalities like Wambui and Maureen Kunga from Elani, Sauti Sol, Hart the Band and Chantelle.
Have they acknowledged your work?
Yeah! The feedback is just amazing. I’ve sold some pieces to some of them.
How long does it take to do a normal sketch?
It depends. For the traditional small prints, it can take 4 hours but if it is on a huge paper (A2), it can take a week.
Do you do teaching classes when people approach you?
Yes. Actually I have a friend of mine I’m currently teaching, I hope he’ll turn out to be better than me. The advantage with him is that we live in the same neighborhood and it is not a hustle to meet so that I can teach him a thing or two.
I want to make it something other kids in school can say “I want to be an artist when I’m done with school.” Right now, people are focusing on other areas. It is not really big, looking forward to that in the future.
What can you tell an emerging artist about how to rely on social media?
If you package your work well, if you know the right channels to use and know the basics of it, it can really help you. Have your final product as clear copies.