Art News

Arts & Culture literary Series I


By Chief Kingsley Okafor. Ksji

Dear readers, creative, art enthusiasts and all culture minded fellows out there.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you on board as we begin this journey into the mind of the artist and in-depth exposé into the world of our diverse cultures.

As we embark on this journey, I promise you a fresh new experience as I assure you that we will totally enlighten you with refreshing in-depth analysis of the various cultures of our great country, Nigeria, Africa and beyond.

Over the years, writers, historians and purveyors of our culture and cultural materials have chronicled and recorded the cultures of various ethnicities, people, tribes and natives in ways that have shaped our understanding and knowledge of the content of different peoples.

Today, we begin this adventure on the platform of the prestigious Daily Times, a Newspaper, which dates back to the early 20th century, precisely 1926.

This fresh new journey will ideally take us into the proper understanding of not just the trajectory of the modern and contemporary artists but also the understanding of the economy of the culture, the business of art, the mind of the artist, the rendezvous of happenings in the art market place, and an in-depth interrogation of the lifestyles as well as how our various cultures have helped to mould us and our livelihood.

I bet you did not know that there are over three thousand (3000) different ethnic groups speaking over two thousand one hundred (2100) different languages in all of Africa.

These ethnic and cultural backgrounds share the same cultures in their history, language and religion.

It is therefore important to just understand what culture is all about before we can now clearly appreciate the different cultures that shall be highlighted in these forthcoming literary series.

Culture is therefore the embodiment of the customs, ideas, and social behavior of a particular people, ethnic nationality and society. It encompasses the art and all manifestations of the human intellectual achievement.

Culture records the knowledge, belief, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups. Culture can easily be identified in the customs, laws, social standards, religious beliefs, dress, architectural style and the language of the people.

Culture is simply the driver and enabler of sustainable development and wellbeing of the people.

It effectively contributes to the policies, strategies and programs that target the inclusive social and economic development, harmony, peaceful cohabitation, security and environmental sustainability of the people.

For the purpose of our series today, we shall be narrowing our discuss to Africa and the role of culture in the continent. The cultural values of Africa must therefore be in place in order to boost its economic development.

Ideally each African country is expected to build its own economy based on its home grown values. African culture is a product of diverse populations that today inhabit the continent called Africa and the African Diaspora.

African culture is expressed in its Arts, Craft, folklore, religion, clothing, cuisine music and language. Culture can also be defined as the belief, behavior, objects and other characteristics shared by groups of people.

Some of these cultures place significant value in things such as ceremonial artifacts, jewelry or clothing. Culture is the major instrument of empowering people with capacities to take ownership of their own development processes.

When a people-centered and place-based approach is integrated into development programs peace building initiatives occur.

Therefore when interventions in fields ranging from health & education, gender empowerment to youth engagement, take the cultural context into account, including diverse local values, conditions, resources, skills and limitations, transformative and sustainable change can occur.

Culture can therefore be rightly defined as who we are. It shapes our destiny, it is a means of fostering respect and tolerance among people, it is a way to create jobs and improve people’s lives.

It is a way to include others and understand them. It is safe to say that culture helps preserve our heritage and make sense of our future and the ever permanent need to empower people.

It therefore works for development of the people. In the study of the cultures of the African people, the following facts emanate.

• Africa is the second largest continent in the world both in size and population.

• It is the home to over one billion people who speak over 2,000 languages.

• World civilization began in Africa. The Pharoamic Civilization of ancient Egypt is the oldest literate civilization dating back to 3300BC.

• Islam is the dominant religion in Africa, while Christianity is the 2nd dominant religion. . Arabic is the most widely spoken language in Africa.

• Sudan is the largest country in Africa with 2.5 million kilometers while Seychelles is the smallest (island) country in Africa with 453 square kilometers.

• Nigeria has the highest population of over 200 million people and nearly 20% of entire African population.

• South Africa has the highest GDP of $182 Billion while Guinea Bissau has the lowest GDP of $230 million.

• Egypt is Africa’s most popular tourist destination;it receives over 10 million visitors every year.

• Currently, Africa is united under a political organization called African Union, established in 2001. Morocco is the only African nation that is not a member the AU. ART BUSINESS SERIES : How to make money as Artist The artist can make money in various ways. The talent is not enough for the artist to break through in the profession.

The astuteness and business mindedness of the artist will greatly make his creativity marketable and yield financial results.

License your art for stock websites, private commissions, teach an online class or start a workshop, offer tutorials, create your own blog, create and sale a book, coach and undertake mentoring, consulting and art direction.

Learning how to make money as an artist is possible but will require a lot of hard work, and a long term strategy.

Even if you create master pieces, they will remain in your storage if you do not develop your marketing skills as well as your creative mastery.

In order to make money as an artist, stop thinking as a hobbyist and start acting like a business owner. Changing your mindset is an essential step.

Your next step will be simply to implement tested recipes and effective strategies which will bring you result. WAYS TO MAKE MONEY AS AN ARTIST There are different ways you can make money as an artist and create more than one stream of income.

Whether you are a part time artist, or a full time freelance artist, there are different ways to make money from your art.

1. Selling your original pieces: The artist who wants to boost his financial status sells his paintings, sculptures or decorative items and jewelry through his website or e-shop.

However it is wiser for the artist to start with an established online art market place with thousands of clients and millions of visitors, instead of waiting for buyers to discover your fresh web portfolio with no traffic.

A great number of these platforms offer you the opportunity of featuring your work as a great promotion.

2. Sell your prints: A great number of online market places offer the artist opportunities of selling their art with print-on-demand. 3. License your art for stock websites.

A graphic designer, photographers or illustrator who wants to sale his works could easily license his work for stock websites.

There are many websites to check out for this.

4. Private commission: As a painter or graphic artist, you can get private commissions for street art, exterior murals paintings and design.

5. Teaching and consulting: An experienced artist can help other aspiring artists to follow their dreams.

Most up-coming artist nowadays prefers to follow an online class or a webinar from their homes, especially those who do not have many local opportunities to attend a course.

There are numerous ways to teach, educate and consult people online.

6. Teach an online class or start a workshop: Setting up your own webinar or online class from day one is not very easy, but you can begin by using an established platform to understand how they function.

Some of them are, Skillshare, How, etc.

7. Offer tutorials: If you have already built a somewhat loyal audience you could start selling them tutorials in various forms, PDF, video and webinars.

8. Create your own blog: Creating your own blog is one of the best market strategies to attract clients in today’s world. You build trust and gain authority while you are promoting your work.

The trick is to understand your target audience and write what they are looking for. A blog that attract a lot of readership and traffic can become a profitable business through ads, affiliate links and sponsors.

9. Create and sell e-book: If you are into blogging, your next destination should be to create an e-book using your already built audience.

It is a lot easier to sell your e-books to people who are interested in your topic, trust you and consider you as an expert.

10. Coaching and mentoring: Many artists and creative share their experience through coaching and mentoring.

You may not begin your career with coaching and mentoring, but if you are already a blogger, you next step may be coaching and mentoring.

11. Consulting and art direction: An artist with a high visual education and a reasonable amount of information in arts and design trends can be a great adviser on creative processes and artistic projects to companies.

12. Work for online market places or galleries: Taking up a job with online market places or galleries will equip the artist with a lot of experience.

These experiences could be in curating, selling or promoting art. Besides the money, it will open you up to opportunities you would not have otherwise. This is a good step if you want to get just beyond selling your work.

13. Work for Magazines, Blogs, etc: Writing articles, taking photographs and art directing for the press and blog is a fascinating way not only to make money as an artist but also strong link to makingpowerful connections and put your name in front of a broader audience.

The best way to break into this is to constantly comment or actively follow on the blog post and publications. Most bloggers and publishers and websites owners are likely to hire from their own audience of readers.

14. Websites to sell your work on as an artist: For artist looking to make money there are several online art marketplaces to sell his work on and different ways to do it. They will usually offer everything you need to start selling as soon you upload you pieces, charging a commission or an initial fee.

Websites where you can sale your Art • Saatchi Art – has over 12million+ monthly page reviews, 1.2million social media followers and 60,000 artists from around the world.

This is one of the most popular online galleries to sell your painting, prints, photographs and sculptures.

They handle shipping and a non-exclusive policy all at 35% commission. • Artfinder – There are over 10,000 artists with a chance of reaching over 500,000 subscribers around the world.

They can sale your original works, paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures at a commission at 30%. • UGallery – They sell works for top emerging artist all over the world at a 50% commission. • Artplode – This is a high quality online art gallery where dealers, artist and galleries and collectors buy and sell art with no commissions charged.

They charge a low one off flat fee of $60 to advertise each art work. The listing stays on the website until the seller removed it.

You may pay extra to have your art included in one or more of their featured categories. • CODWORX – This is a global online community that showcases and celebrates design projects featuring commissioned art work in interior and architectural spaces.

If you are a public artist, painter, sculptor and you work with light, sound and video, chances are you can get discovered by architects, developers, designers, art consultants and public administrators. • Creative Market – This is an online market place for community generated design assets.

The creative market has over a million users and more than 250,000 purchasable items. • Zazzle – There are 3 ways to make money with Zazzle, as a designer, publishing your designs on products, as a maker, selling your products and as an associate, promoting your favourite products.

• Printful – Printful prints and sends your custom print designs to your customers and products such as T-shirts, Posters, Canvas, Mugs, etc. • Etsy – This is a very popular e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies. These items cover a wide range, including art, photography, clothing, jewelry food, bath and beauty products, KnickKnacks and toys.

The site is a traditional open craft fairs shop where goods are listed for a fee of $0.20 per item. Other sites are, Alamy, Vineo on Demand, Amazon. TRADITIONAL ART SERIES (NIGERIAN ART) Nok Culture The Nok culture is the earliest culture that historical archaeology has brought to light in the Niger River Coastal Delta. Nok village is located in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

This culture was based on agriculture and iron technology, although it is most famous for the hundreds of exquisite terracotta sculptures of humans and animals. Nok culture was, until recently, identified only in an area of about 300 by 100 miles north of the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue.

The dates for the sculptures from this area range from 700 B.C (Vansina 1984) or 500 B.C to 200 A.D (Fagg 1977).

Nonetheless, these sculptures represent an evolved art style, indicating that the beginning of Nok art might be further back in time.

A date of 900 B.C was actually obtained from alluvial deposits in the Nok Valley but discarded as probably having been contaminated.

(Fagg 1965). Nok Terracotta Sculptures As previously mentioned, one of the main components of the Nok culture was its ability to fashion objects out of clay.

They made two types of pottery, the domestic pots and the ceremonial or ritual sculpture. Their domestic pottery consists of open shallow bowls with grooves at the rims, globular bowls with curved rims, and shallow dishes scored on the flat interior to produce a grinding surface.

The decorative motifs include walking comb, rope and carved rouletting, channeling, cross-hatching, incision, and impressed circles. By far, the high point of Nok Culture is the high – fired clay sculpture of human and animals, varying in size from approximately six inches to almost life – size.

Molding in clay has been a human occupation from very early times, but the Nok Culture’s degree of success in firing such huge sculptures in the open fire is remarkable.

These sculptures were first discovered as a result of the alluvial tin mining operations on the Jos plateau in central Nigeria around 1928.

The early discoveries included a monkey’s head, a seated monkey, and beaded human foot, which were kept in a small geological museum in Kaduna. In 1939, Bernard Fagg, a British archaeologist, was appointed the first government archaeologist to work on these discoveries.

At Jos, where he was based, Fagg heard about a terracotta head that was being used as a scarecrow on a farm in Jamaa.

Upon examining and comparing the head with the previously known sculpture, Fagg became convinced that all of them were made by a past culture. Consequently, he christened the culture “Nok” after the small village of Nok where the first terracotta specimen was found.

By 1943, through the efforts of the tin miners now conscious of the importance of this discovery, more than 150 sculptures were assembled in the Jos Museum. An important sculpture discovered in 1954 was again nearly life-size. It came from Rafin Kura in the Nok Valley.

The Nok people employed a great variety of styles in their art.

Apart from the Jemaa and the Rafin Kura heads, which were executed in a seminaturalistic style, there was a tendency toward greater naturalism in the sculpting of animals, such as the elephant head from Udegi, near Nassarawa which is provided with the same style of the eyes as human representations.

Its trunk and the tusks, though broken, are naturalistically rendered as is the bony structure of the head.

The axis of the head suggests that it was held upright, in which case the elephant may have been sitting on its haunches or that the head possessed a human body which was in a standing or sitting position.

Even more realistically rendered were the snakes, some of which are coiled around columnar objects and others around themselves.

Other geometric forms, apart from the cylinder, are also represented in Nok art. The presence of two conical heads, one from Wamba, near Jemaa, and the other from the Nok Valley, is further evidence of the use of geometric forms by the Nok artists.

The Nok style is relatively uniform in a general sense but, within this, there are regional differences.

There are at least three sub-styles that have been recognized: the Nok-Jemaa, regarded as “classical” in representing human proportions in the most naturalistic way; the Shere-koro in which the facial features are understated at the expense of the forehead and the crown of the head; and the Katsina Ala with its cylindrical form.

It has been suggested (Shaw 1978) that the unifying factor in Nok art was due to the common practice of agriculture and devotion of a religious cult associated with it and that the terracotta figures were perhaps used in a fertility cult associated with the land.

On the other hand, B. Fagg has suggested that at least some of the terracotta may have been regarded as gods or deified ancestors, as funeral furniture or personal offerings to the dead, or used in ancestor commemoration.

There is a feature in Nok art that must be mentioned because it is also found in culture of many stratified societies.

It is the lavish use of beads on some figures of both male and female. These heads, which were made of quartz, clay, seeds and metals, were recovered from the archaeological deposits.

The Rafin Kura head wears numerous strings of beads around the neck; the small solid figure from Bwari wears two tiers of beads around the neck, the waist, arms, and ankles; the Katsina Ala individual sitting on a stool also wears numerous strings of bead on its wrists and ankles.

It is interesting to note that approximately 1000 years later, certain terracotta and bronze heads from Ife, Owo and Benin were similarly adorned.

In these later cultures, beads define the status of people who belong to the higher strata of the society. Nok Culture and Farming Much work remains to be done before we can arrive at a fuller picture of the makers of the Nok terracottas.

We know that they were farmers for the evidence for this activity is provided by the recovery of some carbonized seeds (atili) from the bottom of a Nok pot.

Evidence of agriculture is also inferred from a terracotta fragment of a man with a hafted ox over his left shoulder which implies tilling the soil, from fragments of terracotta sculpture which may represent fluted pumpkin (Tefairea occidental) and from some worn oustone querns which were used in grinding grains. (B. Fagg 1977).

The knowledge of farming and iron manufacture must have led the Nok people to a sedentary life-style resulting in the building of permanent homes.

Clay lumps found in Nok deposits appear to have been used as daub in a daub and wattle structures. Nok Culture and Iron Production The spread of the Nok culture must have been made possible by the adoption of iron technology enabling tools and weapons to be forged.

The discovery and use of iron was milestone in the history of human development. It was first discovered by the Armenian people in the Hittite empire around the second millennium B.C., the knowledge spread into Europe and other parts of Asia.

READ ALSO: It’s against African culture to kneel while proposing to a woman- Kanayo

Whether iron developed independently or diffused from elsewhere, iron technology was established in West Africa sometime in the second half of the first millennium B.C. Iron ore was smelted in shaft furnaces with vertical clay walls and the bloom was separated from the slag by hammering, which was also used in forging it into tools and weapons.

The excavation of two Nok settlement sites of Taruga and Samun Dukiya has provided reliable radio carbon and thermo luminescence dates which confirmed dates previously obtained from the Nok Valley. It is now certain that the Nok Culture flourished between the 5th

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Ihesiulo Grace

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