Anne Gichuki, 24 is a digital artist, meaning that she makes art on a computer using software such as Photoshop, corelDRAW and Paint Tool SAI to create art.
Impressively, she has never gone to school for this skill and all her learning, from A to Z, was purely online. Today; Anne can authoritatively advice other young people- there is a lot to be learnt and gained from online, so make use of it.
“I have a Bachelor of Music from Daystar University, having pursued the course out of passion for music since I was a child. My ultimate dream was to be a musician of repute. But towards the end of my undergraduate course, precisely in my second-last semester, I started to really rethink my career interests and it was during one of my online searches that I discovered digital art,” she says.
She was watching a YouTube video when she noticed beautiful art in the background; which really caught her interest. Out of curiosity, she started researching about artwork and realised that there was the possibility that she could make art. With this knowledge, she set out to make her own art and it was in the process of doing this that she unearthed the world of digital art.
“I discovered there was a whole world of YouTube tutorials on how to make digital art that I could learn from. These tutorials taught me everything from how to draw using the different software to how to package and market them to my target market. I started in March 2017 and for three to four months, I was busy exploring and seeing what was achievable; and while at it, getting a little money from it,” she explains.
After solidifying her skills, she realised that digital art was actually something that she could do for a living if she learned more, drew more and connected more with other digital artists.
“Watching many ‘ordinary’ people make great art courtesy of the different software that exist was particularly encouraging for me because this gave me the affirmation that I did not need to be working on a canvas to be called an artist – the digital space has created different ways of doing things and seeing the work of other digital artists made it very relatable and doable,” she explains.
Over time, she started to perfect her skills – looking for how to do everything better, what more there was to learn in the space and what skill she could make better and grow every passing day.
“I make money by printing my drawings, framing and then selling them primarily through my Instagram page (@bissu_art). I also got my skills on how to print – best practices, how to set up a business Instagram account (separate from, best frames and so on,online. An A4 piece goes for Sh 2600 and A3 pieces go for Sh 2800. I draw a piece a day and my motivations are very random,” she says.
Her primary target market is urban women, between 25 and 35 years old, mostly living alone (which means they reserve rights for what goes on the walls in their living spaces) with some disposable income and who are, of course, interested in art.
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“Some customers prefer custom made pieces which they describe and I draw for them. This usually costs more. But most of my clients look through the paintings that I have on my IG page, select what they like from there and ask that I print and frame for them,” she says.
Recognising the power of online tutorials and that a lot of young people do not have information on digital art; and realising how much she has benefitted from other online tutorials, she has also started to make tutorials on different aspects of digital art which she shares on her IG page.
“Any time I am working on a new drawing; I record everything, using a software called Open Broadcaster Studio,” she says.
For Anne, art is a piece of something, the same way a story is, just executed in a different form.
“Art affords someone a wider perspective of what life is and makes people open and more receptive to new things,” she says.
However, she finds it disturbing that some people do not highly regard digital art, art emerged as something that was done mostly on a canvas.
“Some people think that when doing digital art, the computer does everything for you. They do not understand that there is a lot of learning and work involved, precisely why not everyone can do digital art. It takes a lot of learning and practice. I am still learning and there is room for many of us to learn,” she concludes.