Illustrating How to Make it as an Artist
“I’m an illustrator, when I tell people this they ask if I’m an illustrator as a hobby because they can’t imagine how I make money from it.” 99FM’s MYD Art sat down with Romeo Sinkala an artist making waves in the Namibian arts scene for his fresh approach, his love of drawing and in his words his “uncomplicated view of art”
When asked how he became an artist Romeo shares a story that includes many twists and turns to get him to the place where he is now. “My uncle was the one, who was an artist and I liked the stuff he used to do” says Romeo “Growing up, the family made it seem like you can’t make money as an artist. They wanted me to do something with maths rather.” It was after this he explains that he took up an interest in computers. “I studied computer science and math at the University of Namibia. At that time I had given up on being an artist or doing anything with art. Although through computer science I got interested in graphic design. I used to download tutorials and I taught myself how to use Photoshop.”
It was through his now wife that all this started to change “she was looking through my stuff and she found my sketches and said: Wow! Why don’t you do this?”
Romeo says he wasn’t immediately convinced and it was only in 2005 that he decided to give art a try.” In 2005 I started the journey, made the sacrifices I had to make and got the equipment I would need.”
Romeo laughs and says “We like to think that people just woke up one day and made SUPERB, you don’t want to imagine the work that goes into something, the time to refine, the time to develop yourself”
Today a successful artist with an exhibition on at the FNCC titled ‘The Return of the Fundi’ and with two published children’s books, one of which he wrote and illustrated himself and another which was a children’s adaptation of Maria Serebrov’s Mama Namibia which he illustrated.
When asked what advice he has for other artists wanting to make a career of art Romeo says “You can lose yourself in your love of your own art. Sometimes artists wait for the planets to align before they do something. I believe if you are an artist you have to investigate the idea of how to make your artwork transcend the canvas or the piece of paper. You have to look at avenues that will open up options for you. I personally have always loved the business philosophy of Walt Disney or Pixar, they franchise their business that before their movies even come out you can get water bottles from Pixar for example, this means they offset their costs and introduce other avenues to earn revenue. I believe this is a good template for artists. Artists need to think of ways to transcend their art and tap into new markets.”
Romeo goes on to say that another thing he admires with the major animated movie companies in the world today is that they think about who they will partner with and this gives them an edge.
An illustration by Romeo Sinkala