A Simple Do-Not-Say-This-To-Painters Guide.

One of the hardest parts of being an artist aside from finally accepting that art is your path (and the actual creating of your work) is the reaction to your job. Perhaps it’s the whimsy that surrounds painting, perhaps people are just ignorant but the why behind it is not today’s focus. Instead, the focus is an unverified guide on what not to say to a fine artist when the artist in question tells you their job.

While referencing another artist’s work “Can you paint this for me?”

Yes, I have the ability to but I will not because that is a little thing called theft.

“Eh? You should paint me.”

Because you have not phrased this as ‘How much would it be to paint me?’ I do not understand what you just said.


 “So, how are you gonna make money?”

I just… I just told you. I paint… and then sell the paintings. You know, capitalism.

“Ai, it’s too expensive people won’t buy it for that much.”

Not people, you which is fine. Fine art is simply not for everyone’s pocket (not yet at least) being discouraging for no reason other than a weak bargaining chip is pretty rude. It is also a sharp reflection of your understanding of art.


“You should do it for exposure.”

Can you break down how exposure is converted to Kenya Shilling? and where one can make such a transaction? And could you point out which bill collector or art store accepts exposure? I’ll wait.

“But I can get it cheaper at Nakumatt/TACC/Mr. Price.”

No, you can’t, Nakumatt does not carry my paintings. But if you are so sure you can, what are you talking to me for?


On average how long does it take to paint something?

Well, my whole life. Every piece is a collection of a lifetime of progress.

Did you actually do that?

Ummm yeah. (what other answer are you expecting? ‘nah, just stunting for the Gram’)

“You know the problem with you creatives…”

We are underpaid, undervalued and our work is constantly disrespected? Perhaps that everyone wants to consume our work but not pay for it, or pay as little as possible for it?


Jokes aside, statements like these are a reflection of how people look at art in Kenyan. The general consensus is art is something worth consuming but not worth any kind of monetary compensation. Art is not as understood as it should be and we should all put in more effort to appreciate (with cash, not exposure) the hard work that goes into creating any art form. Not just for the artist but for the sake of encouraging great art, because if you constantly want it free, you will eventually get what you pay for.

Tell us some ridiculous things people have said to you about art and check out the upcoming Art and Poetry event. 


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