CHURNING out artwork is what artists do.
Unfortunately, being financially organised as well as marketing themselves and their work is a dilemma that most of them face.
To help artists overcome this, the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur introduced a new programme – the Young Art Entrepreneurs – with the aim to help them become competitive art entrepreneurs in the creative art industry.
Its corporate communication public relations officer Ahmad Safwan Hamsi said most artists were talented but lack the skills to stay competitive in the industry.
“We teach them how to market themselves, improve their communication skills, and come up with marketing budgets and business plans.
“They need to come up with ideas of what they want,” he said when met at the Art Depot Container at the national gallery.
Ahmad Safwan said the artists would be coached for six months and their work exhibited at the end of the programme.
Coaching sessions are three hours per week.
Seven young artists had been picked to join this new programme, he added.
They are Jessica Kuok Beng Lin, Foong Yeng Yeng, Abdul Mohsin Aminuddin, Teh Nadirah Hamdan, Ahmad Fikril Haniff Shahruddin, Muhammad Farhan Shah Mohd Zaini and Afiq Othman.
Afiq, 29, who is fondly known as Bop Sopan, said there were many programmes for young artists but he was drawn to this one because of its entrepreneurship element.
“I did digital printing on canvas from 2014 to 2015 but stopped because I felt I was not ready to handle the business aspect. That’s why I applied for this programme, I wanted to learn more about the business side of art,” said Afiq.
He said he wanted to create an art space for events and art performances.
“I also want to hold programmes there to teach artists about entrepreneurship.
“I want it to be in Hulu Selangor, where my family comes from. This is my way of giving back to the community,” he said.
As part of the programme, an exhibition of the seven artists’ works was held in conjunction with the “Say Something Nice Campaign” titled #ArtSomethingNice.
Afiq’s artwork featured in the exhibition throws the spotlight on national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who is dressed in a baju Melayu.
“When I was told of the theme, the first thing I thought of was him. I recalled a badminton tournament between him and Lin Dan last year, he was injured but continued to play.
“I felt he was not playing for himself but his country,” he said.
Nadirah, 27, said she hoped to learn how to market and brand herself as an artist.
“My business plan is to work together with Airbnb on displaying young artists’ artwork at their lodgings, focusing on art travellers to give them a chance to buy local pieces,” she said.
Kuok, 23, said she had a business plan to open an art academy for children.
“Through this programme, I will learn how to write up contracts, apply for grants and funding and understand the laws that apply to all these,” she said.
The chosen artists will be preparing themselves for the Malaysian Art Expo in Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC) in October, an exhibition and charity auction of their creative pieces at the Creative Space at the National Art Gallery in January next year.