7 Tips for Making Money as an Artist in Guyana

Updated: Feb 19

As a creative person in Guyana you have undoubtedly heard time and time again – "how you going mek money wid dat?" With no updated intellectual copyright legislation and our culture of piracy, Guyana often seems like an artist’s nightmare!


Well, The Guyana Annual has done some digging and gathered some tips (hopefully sensible ones) on how you can position yourself to make money off your creativity. We don’t buy into the starving artist trope and neither should you! Check out some of the ideas we found below.



1.Think About School or Improving Your Skills


Should you go to art school or not? Are the sacrifice and money worth it? Can’t you just make it on your own like many self-taught artists?  These are the questions you may often wrestle with when considering a formal art education – especially since a formal art education is seen by many as a waste of time or something to be done on the side.  However, in an increasingly competitive job market – a formal art education is at least worth consideration.


There is always room to learn and improve. Art programmes expose you to a wide number of techniques and skills and also give you space for constructive criticism. You are also given the chance to learn from seasoned art professionals and network with the art community in Guyana and abroad. The opportunity to build an extensive portfolio of work is also a plus. Maybe you never got a chance to try your hand at ceramics or leather-craft – an art programme will give you the chance to see if its something you may want to pursue.


The course areas offered at the two prominent art programmes in Guyana are:

E. R. Burrowes School of Art:

  • Drawing

  • Graphic Design

  • Ceramics

  • Photography

  • Painting

  • Leather

  • Art

  • Sculpture

  • Jewellery

  • Textile

  • Construction & Design.

Other compulsory theoretical subjects include

  • Caribbean Studies,

  • Art History,

  • Basic Design and

  • Entrepreneurship.

University of Guyana Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts)

Programme courses include:

  • Art,

  • Nature and Meaning I and II             

  • Introduction to the Use of English and Use of English

  • Drawing I and II              

  • Sculpture I and II            

  • Painting I and II

  • Graphics I and II             

  • History of Art I and II

  • Textiles I and II               

  • Research Methods                       

  • Foreign Language Course (French, Spanish or Portuguese)

  • Ceramics I and II             

  • Aesthetic Theory and Application I and II             

  • Art Education for Nursery and Primary Schools I and II   

  • Art Elective of Your Choice

If you are a creative person and would like to hone your craft, qualifying yourself is a safe bet because not only does it show future employers or customers your discipline and commitment in finishing a programme, it also opens the doors to scholarships and fellowships abroad.


Free Online Tutorials

Thanks to globalisation and the internet, there are many free tutorials online to help improve your skills. Type in “free art tutorials” in your search engine to see what pops up. You can also check what we found on the My Modern Met website (Acrylic Paint, Oil Paint, Watercolour Paint Tutorials)  and  Open Culture website (Art fundamentals, Painting and Drawing, Digital Art Software, Traditional Art, Manga/Anime, Time-lapse Paintings Tutorials).


Websites


Free Tutorial Lists


2.Join or Form an Art Group


Maybe formal learning isn’t for you. That’s ok because we’re all wired differently. However, you can still learn from seasoned artists by joining or forming an art group to share experiences and ideas. There is power in numbers and being a member of an art group can improve your skills and allow you to network with the local art community. In addition, your collective can coordinate with the private sector to put on exhibitions and events which can earn you cash and exposure. Three art groups in Guyana are KAYAP, the Guyana Women Artists’ Association,and the Moving Circle of Artists.


KAYAP, a new collective of artists and art lovers, is showing all local creatives what is possible with their beautiful events showcasing Guyanese art and culture. KAYAP 2: Sip and Create was held at the BK Building on the corner of Vlissingen and Sandy Babb, on February 15, 2020 and hosted an explosion of activities which included: art exhibitions, live portraits, street games, story telling and mini workshops! Check out the event and the possibilities below.


Photos by Shamar Semple, 2020

3.Get Social


The younger crowd is way ahead on this one, but sharing your work on social media can definitely get you paid because it’s the perfect tool for promotion and networking. Instagram and Pinterest are two of the best free social sites for creatives because they are primarily image-based. The added bonus is a virtual portfolio of your work. Remember to put your contact information in your bio (telephone number, professional email, blog/website) so that clients can contact you to purchase or commission pieces or agencies can hire you on a freelance basis. Here are some useful tips when posting to Instagram:

  1. Post-High-Quality Images

  2. Stick to your Brand (Ask yourself, what makes you different from everyone else?)

  3. Keep Posts Imaginative

  4. Draw Inspiration from popular art insta-pages

  5. Creative Captions

  6. Use Hashtags (so people can find you!)


Remember to post consistently to naturally build up a good following. If you can afford it, think about generating traffic with paid ads.


4.Create a Website/ Portfolio


Don’t rely only on social media, make sure that you have a beautifully designed landing page as an actual portfolio. You don’t have to know coding or shell out for an expensive website, below are links to a few free portfolio websites with templates (with the option to upgrade to paid plans).


Behance, Deviantart or Dribble.

The go-to portfolio websites for artists with bustling social networks.


Wix

Take a quiz and Wix will tailor your website to your needs. Wix offers an easy drag and drop method of building your site and 1000s of templates. It is free to use, the only catch being limited space and your domain name will include “wixsite”. Paid plans are also offered.


JournoPortfolio

Don’t worry, it’s not only for writers. The free version of the site allows you to showcase up to 10 projects on a homepage.


WordPress

Millions of people use WordPress to create websites. It is free to use, but like wix, these plans offer limited space and your domain name will include “wordpress” e.g. theartshop .wordpress.com instead of theartshop.com.


Weebly

Similar to WordPress, Weebly is free and extremely easy to use (a lot of templates) and the site name is included in the domain unless you pay to make it your own.


5.Sell your artwork (Original/Prints) and Take Part in Local Exhibitions



Organising your own art exhibitions may be pricey, so maybe as a start, think on our suggestion of joining or creating a group to share the costs. There is also a wonderful opportunity to take part in the now annual art exhibition held in August created by two young Guyanese creatives, Shamer Hescott and Shamar Spooner called “Filling the Void”. KAYAP also hosts a pop-up art exhibition at the Courtyard Mall. On a national level, there is the biennial Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition (GVACE) organised by the National Gallery of Art, Castellani House and the Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport.


You can consider selling your art on virtual art marketplaces. However, because you are based in Guyana, shipping out of the country may be costly – alternatively, you can license your work or sell reprints. See some suggestions from the Millo Website below (you can find the original article by clicking here.)


For Painters, Illustrators, Sculptors, Photographers

For Photographers, Graphic Designers and Illustrators

Using Society6 and Printful, you will not only be able to transform your artwork into posters & prints but also phone cases, stickers, t-shirts and whatever can be printed.


Art and Craft

Etsy

List your goods in your shop for a fee of US$0.20 per item.

Artfire

Unlike Etsy, no listing fees.


6.Other Careers That Use Your Art Skills


There are plenty of other jobs in the sea where your practical and creative skills as an artist are invaluable. Think Guyanese artist Atio Chryst and all the new and exciting opportunities with the Guyana Animation Network Inc. ! We have compiled a non-exhaustive list below:

  • Graphic Designer/ Artist

  • Art Teacher or Lecturer

  • Illustrator

  • Animator

  • Art gallery manager

  • Art therapist

  • Concept artist

  • Interior and spatial designer

  • Museum/gallery curator

  • Multimedia programmer

  • Stylist

  • Advertising Director

  • Jewellery Designer

  • Archaeologist

  • Architect

  • Photographer

  • Art Critic

  • Public Relations Officer

  • Marketing Officer

  • Social Media Officer

  • Event Planner/ Designer

  • Cartoonist

  • Costume Designer

  • Fashion Designer

  • Fabric Designer

  • Filmmaker

  • Fashion Editor/Writer

  • Furniture Designer/Maker

  • Goldsmith

  • Make Up Artist

  • Tattoo Artist

  • Set Designer

  • Website Designer

  • Toy Designer

7.Lobby for Updated Intellectual Property Laws in Guyana

It starts with us. If creatives want to be respected for the work we produce, then we need to ensure that we are protected by the Laws of Guyana. You know how much work you put into what you do, and how expensive and time consuming it can be. It isn’t fair that individuals and companies can then profit from your work with little or no consequence.


Intellectual Property Law Expert, Abiola Inniss in her 2014 presentation at the University of Guyana said that “Intellectual Property and copyrighting laws are areas that have been highly contentious and filled with many misconceptions. Intellectual property, she explained, refers to creations and inventions of the mind. These are protected in various ways, one of which involves copyright laws. These laws enable people to earn recognition and financial benefits from what they invent or create, she said. The copyright laws help to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can be encouraged and allowed to flourish.”(Kaieteur News, 2014)


Do your own research on how these laws affect you, You can start by checking out this documentary by Rustom Seegopaul “Copyright: Guyana”. You can also take a read of some of Guyana’s cultural policies:

Guyana’s Framework National Cultural Policy

Cultural Policy in Guyana by AJ Seymour


Consider writing letters to the editor or creating a group that advocates for updating our legislation.


These are just some of the tips that The Guyana Annual has found. Let us know if you have any to share! Follow us @theguyanaannual on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!


References:


Baranova, I., & BaranovaIeva, I. (2019, April 9). 8 Real Ways You Can Make Money as an Artist (With Examples). Retrieved from https://blog.sellfy.com/how-to-make-money-as-artist/


millo.com (2020, February 12). How to Make Money as an Artist in 2020 (Advice That Works). Retrieved from https://millo.co/how-to-make-money-as-an-artist


simple. com (2016, September 8). How to Start Earning Money as an Artist. Retrieved from https://www.simple.com/blog/how-to-start-earning-money-as-an-artist







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