Global audience for online artists

The arts sector is moving online at a more aggressive rate as the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be felt across South Africa

Visual artist and Guinness World Record holder Percy Maimela.
Visual artist and Guinness World Record holder Percy Maimela.
Image: Chris Wessels.

Visual artist and Guinness World Record holder Percy Maimela (35) from Winterveldt in Pretoria was forced to move his annual Salt of the Earth exhibition to the South African State Theatre’s YouTube channel. It premiered on 24 May.

Maimela says artists should familiarise themselves with using digital platforms as the COVID-19 virus will be with us for a long time. “As artists, we need to research platforms that are available which we can use to exhibit our works. We need to use social media and digital galleries to show and sell our artworks,” he says.

Artists can make a lot more money through online platforms, he believes, because they give artists access to a new clientele that would not have been available if their art was only exhibited at traditional galleries.

He says: “When you use digital platforms, you get access to clients that are from far and wide. You can find yourself selling art to people in Russia, China or America because they saw it online.”

Maimela says that during the lockdown, he has learnt how to market and sell his work online.

The world record Maimela holds is for creating the largest ground coffee mosaic in the world. Using ground coffee beans, Maimela created a five-by-five metre portrait of musician Nkosinathi Maphumulo, popularly known as Black Coffee. Maimela created the portrait of the muso in three-and-a-half hours.

“Last year, I was approached to do a portrait of Black Coffee by a company that was hosting an event and Black Coffee was one of their guests. I then pitched the idea of getting Guinness World Records to come and verify my work,” Maimela says.

A former retail store salesman, Maimela started using salt and sand to create art in 2014 and became a full-time artist in 2016.

The Salt of the Earth exhibition is in its third year and started with physical exhibitions during the annual Mzansi Fela festival held between November and December by the State Theatre.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.

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