MY HUSTLE: Artist painting his way to financial freedom

Wednesday March 18 2020
Robert

Robert Chumbi, 28, lives off his art. But things were not always this rosy. He’s hawked shoes, worked as a motorbike repairer and as a house agent. PHOTO| MARGARET MAINA

By MARGARET W. MAINA

Robert Chumbi, 28, lives off his art. But things were not always this rosy. He’s hawked shoes, worked as a motorbike repairer and as a house agent.

We found him putting the final touches to a Nelson Mandela portrait that he’s painting on canvas.

Robert learnt to be a sculptor from a friend but later abandoned it as he could not make ends meet from the money he made. He went back to his first love of painting.

“I had a spot to display my arts in Kinoo but the road had to be expanded and I was left torn on where to move to. I chose Nakuru because I would travel there to market my pieces once in a while and the profit was tempting, I thought it was best to move.”

Robert, together with his friend Samwel Kinuthia packed their belongings in January 2019 and settled in Nakuru. He says he draws his inspiration from day to day activities.

NOT AFRAID TO WORK IN PUBLIC

“I am not afraid to work in public. Painting from life experiences teaches you how to see, you become more adept at discerning values, colors and composition,” he adds.

Robert, who has three employees, says that they work fully steered by passion to deliver eye-catching canvas pieces. They use acrylic and silk vinyl paints.

The painting that ranges from Sh 1,000 to Sh 15,000 has seen Robert making a profit to at least Sh 60,000 in a good month. But that does not come without its challenges.

“We work outdoors and when it rains, we have to close work whatever time. This also leads to our paintings taking long to dry up.I would like to train more artists but my challenge is the space to do so. I want to continue painting, to create a space where tranquility and the African narrative, especially that of Kenya can shine, reminding us the more you broaden your horizons, the more you create, the work speaks for you.”