Business of Art in Jamaica
“Artists have to move with the modern times,” says Ray Jackson. A Jamaican artist in his mid- 60’s, Jackson attests that he has been an artist since he was ‘in the womb.’ Jackson is a rare breed in Jamaica, he makes a living from his art. He pays his bills, buys equipment and groceries from his paintings.
Art is everywhere in Jamaica from murals on abandoned buildings, dancehall street signs and pretty much any blank wall. It is only in the last few decades that artists have found limited support. There are few government grants and opportunities for artists to take advantage, and as such it is very competitive field. The Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts opened in the 1950’s and the National Gallery opened in the 1970’s in Kingston-which houses the largest art collection in the Caribbean.
There is a mostly unspoken rule that artist don’t talk about how they approach art as a business. Yello believes that veil should be lifted. One of the ways we are helping stir the conversations is offering free creative listing on our mobile app platform.Artists can also use video marketing to showcase their work in a meaningful way.
Many people want to make a living from their passion, but lack savvy networking skills.
Keri Henry of Lexitori Designs said in an interview with the Jamaican Gleaner, “As a new designer I have been attending various shows/events introducing my pieces and networking. I wish to have my pieces in the hotels and have been making contact.”
Visual artist, Lenox Coke makes a note of art events he’s like to attend and produces pieces. He has a sign-in book that guests can leave their email and phone numbers. He adds their information to a contact list and emails and sends Whats App messages to the group when he produces new paintings. A useful site for art shows is www.arteventsja.com
Without a doubt, artists have to get creative in marketing themselves as a brand and their works of art. Social media is one such area where with no to minimal costs, artists can market themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and now Pinterest. There are some websites, that artists can get listed where a wider online audience can view pieces.
Jackson has a Facebook page and is listed on consignment and art listing websites with difference audiences across the globe.
The Jamaica Biennial is currently being exhibited and has now spread from the National Gallery to Devon House and in Montego Bay. It is a great networking and learning opportunity for budding artists.
While the resources may be meagre, artists should approach the business of art as they tackle a blank canvas; with creativity, drive and determination to succeed.