Name: Andrew Otieno
Occupation: Visual Artist
Location: Based at the GoDown Arts Centre, Nairobi
Online Footprint: https://mtimaweart.wordpress.com/
My name is Andrew Otieno am a visual artist currently based at the GoDown Art centre. I started art when I was young but after finishing my schooling, I decided to take two years training at MAC training centre and I later graduated for certificate of art and design. Most of my current paintings are oil based but I work with acrylics, charcoal and water colours. I usually work with exaggerated figures or sketches to come up with some well composed images that I want to appear on my artworks. Most of my ideas are inspired interesting things that are existing our environment which includes beauty nature, human characteristics, different life styles, creative thoughts and perceptions towards our environment therefore spend a lot of my time observing human behaviors listening to their interesting stories and picturing the beauty side of nature inside my mind.
I have participated in different exhibition that have been held in different places locally, these includes national museum of Kenya, village market, international school of Kenya (ISK), and Fair View Hotel. In August 2014, I did a solo art presentation at the Railway Museum of Kenya. This gave me a good opportunity to showcase my artworks and style of working that gives the impressions and different effects on my pieces.
Apart from my painting, I have also done some installation art that reflects on different ideas in our daily life from social political issues, business environment to believes, culture and many ideologies. In 2012, I was awarded the best young artist of the year at the Manjano art exhibition that was held at the village market. I have attended several art workshops that are based on different topics and exercises. Some of the art workshops were hosted by kuona trust art center, the Godown art centre and other were my personal arrangements. Jenga art program is one of the educative and impressive workshop that we conducted. I was working with a psychotherapist who was providing counseling to drug addicts and preferred art exercises as one of the therapy processes. I have also a planned project where I have started to work with children who have come from difficult backgrounds sharing with them my artistic ideas and trying to create hope and giving back to the community.
Sometimes when I start to tell stories about when I started to practice art many people take a slight moment of silence maybe because they are surprised with the memories that I still have about my younger age. I guess for me I don’t know how to answer the question of when I started to do art I only know that is a talent that I have but I went for some training to refine what I had or what I did as my hobbies. I can still remember some days just before I joined primary school we us to go with my mother to worshiping gatherings and people were very attentive when listening the ongoing programs. My mother use to give me very big yellow papers because she knew I that could remain silent and busy and I would not move around and disturb the congregation. Some of the memories that I had about my drawings have faded away but I can still remember how the whole yellow paper was filled with oval shaped drawings and am sure no one knew that I was trying to sketch chapatis which was my favorite food at that moment.
Some years latter after joining primary school I still had the passion and interest in painting and drawing . My class 5 teacher use to give me huge manila papers to sketch some illustration drawings that explain different class subjects. The other thing that I was really enjoying to do is to help other pupil to complete their art assignments art project and competition. One day I felt embarrassed when the boy that I helped to do all the procedure of his artwork won a trip to Mombasa and 5000 voucher at kiwi art competition while I only went home with a kiwi school bag.
Even though the boy and their family never mention anything about me at the school parading I was still proud about my clever idea.
I cannot say allot about singing , but many of my colleagues knew me as a talented young musician. In many programs that were being exercised at school mainly themed on sensitization about deadly diseases hygiene maintenance and inter schools music competitions, I use compose songs for our school club and participate in those enjoyable events. After finishing my primary schoolings I did not make any further progress on music because I was very loyal to the church I considered musicians as people who doesn’t have moral values and loves pleasure instead of God.
I cannot say that I was brought up in a very wealthy family but the fact that I was raised up with a single parent it was part of my motivation to be very fast in making necessary decisions and I never wanted feel that I have imposed extra burden on my mother,s back . I therefore joined one centre that was located in South B known as MAC training centre. The centre was dealing with different kind of youths training them on different skills including hairdressing , arts, football and catering. Since I really knew how to draw and to paint they took me to be one of their trainee but during that period of that time they realized some of us never went for secondary schoolings . They decided to sponsor us for evening secondary classes since that was one of their ambition as an organization that was being runned by sisters of mercy. However all these process were kind of funny and tough because we did both art skill training and secondary schoolings all thanks to st peter,s cleavers and st Mary secondary viwandani managements which introduced evening classes to their schools.
After two years training at the centre I graduated for certificate of art and design. And the centre assigned me as assistance art trainer so that I could share what I had with the new recruits. I did the mentorship work for one year and there some small changes after the sister who was managing the centre was transferred back to ireland. During that time there was my friend who was interested in dancing and she introduced us to the godown art centre after finding out that the place was very versatile and people were doing a lot of things including dance and visual arts . It was very tricky to officially join the godown because we were just new and we did not a lot of requird exeperience and the centre was full of famous and well established artists. Therefore many of us had no other option but to work in the studios of big artist like Patrick mukabi Dickson kaloki and Mary ogembo because most of their applications were not approved at that time. Even though some of the people in our group quited and went for employment, we moved on and applied for more exhibitions participated in different art programs and improving our style of working. Eventually the godown management allocated us our own working space after several attempt of applications.
I was then settled up but I felt a bit challenged because I knew I was now working officially as a full time artist. In 2012 and early months of 2013 the art market was not very bad for me most of exhibitions that I attended were successful including the manjano art prize where I was awarded as the best artist of the year in young category. Some of my artworks were used for different art themed publications in the village market initiatives and Nairobian margarine art lounge section. I also did a live coverage with K24 TV crew explaining g to them about my work and how I have experienced life as an artist and association with the local society. At the moment am really putting all efforts to improve my talent to work as well established artist and to set an example to other young talents.
Working as a well established artist and use my artwork to identify and to preserve nature.
Maintaining my creativity values, work ethics and remaining relevant and active in the art industry.
Participating in different art exhibition and organizing my own solo exhibition
Finding a manager who can assist me to expose and protect my artworks in term of legal matters and online presence
Improving my style of working and maintaining their values and sense
Creating a strategy of dealing with clients of different levels who are interested and wants to purchase my artwork
Watching and balancing my finances.
12 MONTH PLAN
Clearing main bills by:
A. making sales
Providing art services
Working on commissions
Buying art materials
Making New Art Pieces
-preparing new sketch work
-mounting and priming the canvases
-getting new ideas
Marketing my work