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Making millions from digital art

By Vivian Wandera | September 4th 2021

What is Conceptual Art

Conceptual art is an artistic expression in which the concepts and ideas conveyed are more important than the aesthetic and perceptive result of the work itself. It is a trend.

How long have you been doing this?

I’ve been making art for more than 20 years and I’ve realised that time is not important, sometimes you have to wait more than a year to find the inspiration for a good work.

Where do you find your inspiration?

First comes the desire to create then when you decide to start working. Next comes in the research. The digital world is endless at some point you find something that inspires you and start to follow it like a dream. It can then be your theme.

What is the integral work of an artist?

I often think of it as a mission as opposed to a job. Here eternity comes into play: a good work will live on from generation to generation. It will surpass our existence and even outlive that aged baobab tree that has always been with us.

What is the role of an artist in society?

There can be different roles, and right now I have chosen beauty. Mankind needs beauty and nature is not enough. We buy art and bring it home so that our children and ourselves can grow up surrounded by its beauty. I believe that we grow up better surrounded by the beauty of art.

How has your practice changed over the years?

I’ve had the great fortune to live through an epochal transition between chemical/physical and digital, which has allowed me to understand two very different eras. For example, I was able to transfer all the experience and sensitivity I had learned in the darkroom where black and white photographs were created.

Tell me about the projects you are most proud of and why

Pride is a big word. You see, at the end of a work I’ve always thought that it didn’t really belong to me and that it was like a gift to me. Sometimes when I look at some of my works, I get so amazed I often wonder who really made it.

Gian Paolo.

Take me through your creative process...

Can a mind full of worries, numbers, things to do, good or bad thoughts be creative? I don’t think so. A creative mind is quiet, free from most of the thoughts that keep us awake at night. A creative mind is as free as that of a child. How do I get in that creative mindset? I live simply, with no fear, not bogged down by things or money and trying to remain as empty as possible.

How long does it take to make a work of art?

It all depends. But it is all tied to your skills. Sometimes you work very fast but in reality it took you many years to be good at what you do.

When you fall into mannerism and perfectionism and you never manage to finish a work, it’s like entering into a vortex that imprisons you and you never manage to detach yourself from that canvas, from that drawing. This happens when you give a lot of importance to your ability, technique, and you lose sight of the content.

That which you want the work to communicate to others, and this is what really counts, not perfectionism.

Many people are used to the role of an artist who paints. How would you describe digital art?

My colour palette is the internet, my brush is the mouse. I spend hours in front of the screen with millions of colours. There are a multitude of techniques for making art but the approach is the same for every artist. I don’t feel any different from a painter or a sculptor or a photographer.

Where do you get the materials to print your work?

I have my own workshop in Milan where I print on museum-quality material.

Artistic works by digital artist Gian Paolo.

Quality is everything in this business. It is very important the quality of the canvas be 100 per cent cotton and the colours be pure pigments to ensure it lasts at least 100 years before it starts to deteriorate. There are few companies that provide quality materials and they are expensive. For me quality is everything and that is why I have my own workshop.

How do you price your works?

There are precise parameters and evaluation coefficients, my current one is Euros 2,500  for unique works. What makes the valuation fluctuate are the type of exhibitions that an artist does, the sales auctions in which he participates, and the importance of collectors who buy your works.

How do you keep up with everything being digitised?

You have to get help in all areas. There are store assistants who sometimes become great artists. There are young people who are eager to learn and pass on their knowledge.

What is in the price of a work of art?

Certainly what it conveys.

What is the market like in Kenya? Do people really appreciate and value high end art?

Yes, they do. A few Kenyans do buy art but not as much as the international market. The better the economic standards, the more people buy the art. Living in a place where one is surrounded by art is important for one’s psycho physical health. 

How do you find your customers in a niche market?

The best customer is the person who encounters a work of art hanging on a wall and is impressed, then starts looking for the author. It is an exponential system, the more works are exhibited, the more contacts you have. This is the reason that pushes you to produce more and more, and the more you produce, the more you work.

What goes into the pricing of a piece of art?

Certainly what it conveys.

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