Like many other businesses in the country, art is quickly finding a stall in the online market—where visual artists use different social media channels, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest among others, to promote their products, improve their business and connect with fellow artists across the world.
One of these artists is 20-year-old Fabrice Girihirwe, who believes that in order to succeed in today’s fast-growing world, one not only needs to be creative but also should focus on promoting their creations using technology.
“I spend most of the time on social media- especially Facebook and Instagram, which I use to promote my art pieces and connect with other artists,” says the self-taught painter—adding, “when you are still a budding artist, it’s usually not easy to penetrate into the market, so most artists resort to technology to promote their brands and create a fan base.”
However, despite the incredible talent, only a few artists manage to support themselves in the career they are passionate about.
Like other sectors, the creative industry is competitive and one has to create really good stuff in order to be able to get the market.
Girihirwe’s interest in art began at an early age and he used to admire people’s paintings in his neighbourhood. At the age of 10, Girihirwe was already a popular artist at his school in Rubavu District.
“People used to admire my drawings and by the time I was in Primary School I used to tell my stories through drawings,” he says, before adding. “I remember one time, my teacher beat me and I drew an illustration indicating the act. Everyone was surprised and this is when I realised that there might be something in me that I needed to explore.”
He’s currently pursuing a degree in Creative Design at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology.
Girihirwe does portrait and wall paintings using acrylics, brushes and drawing pencils. Most of his artworks depict the history of Rwanda, the culture, the tradition, while his other creations convey the message of peace, reconciliation and love.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that I do art for a living, it’s my source of livelihood. Some people rarely believe art is something influential and valuable not only to those who do it but also the society. The government should however intervene and play its part so that we artistes take our industry to the next level,” he noted.
Girihirwe argues that the “Made in Rwanda’ slogan should not only be limited to certain products; explaining that art should also be included because the quality improved, and most artists are making a living from art.
Girihirwe poses with his finished piece of local R&B singer Christopher Muneza.