A painter Kgaotsang Neiso, 24 from Mmadinare had always dreamed of being a full time artist. For many of local visual artists, that dream feels just out of reach.
Let’s face, it in Botswana it is hard for many fine artists to earn sufficient income to warrant living their “day jobs” from their craft . Neiso’s journey from an art teacher to full time painter shows that with skill, determination and perseverance one can make it work.
Gradually, Neiso dropped everything behind and was able to pursue his art fulltime. For a person who studied art from primary school all the way to tertiary school, Neiso has learnt the ins and outs of running an art business.
“After graduating with an associate degree in Fine at Limkokwing University I got jobs as an art teacher but soon realised that teaching was not my thing. I am more of an artist than teacher so I came to Thapong to become a fulltime professional artist,” he told Arts & Culture in an interview.
For a painter who has always had a deep appreciation for animals and the natural world, Neiso was quick to reveal that he mainly focuses on painting in the landscape category.
“My landscapes either have people or animals in them,” he quipped.
Neiso said he was inspired by nature because each time he travelled, he opened his eyes to observe his surroundings.
Perhaps the hardest part of becoming a successful full-time artist was mastering the aspects of developing a client base in addition to one’s craft. Neiso said since he was a full-time commercial artist, he took what the client wanted depending on the size and object. “I can still do portraits”.
He said 60% of the support he garnered was from foreigners in the form of tourists and the 40% comes from the government,” he revealed. “Government doesn’t buy a lot, but the amount they pay for an artwork is quite satisfying,” he highlighted.
Neiso also said he also makes small portraits that are affordable and cost as less as P100.
He said he has observed that Batswana do not buy much of his artworks unless it’s commissioned portraits. “They have not reached that level because they don’t understand art the way foreigners do. I meet these tourists at Mowana Park and sometimes they come to Thapong,” he said.
So far, Nesio has shown that there was no reason why one could not pursue a career as a professional artist if they had talent and were dedication. Describing his unique talent, Neiso said his style was different because it has so much soul. “I don’t do these 100% realistic paintings but I do impressionism.
In my paintings you can see the brush strokes and see the movement of the brush in a painting,” he said. He said he doesn’t do clean artworks that people often confuse with photographs.
“I believe that a painting should reveal that it is a painting,” he said. With plenty of self-belief, stamina and the ability to promote his work the 24-year-old painter however said as much as he marketed his work on social media he did not get clients through the platform.
Neiso said most of the customers who buy big artworks were the elderly people who hadve homes and spaces to display them.
As fine art business is a highly competitive career path, Neiso said at the moment he was trying to link with other galleries outside through the tourists who buy his work.
He further encouraged people to support local artists because not all the artworks were unaffordable.