Artwork gives Kisumu man sustainable livelihood

Art has been described by the Nairobi Art gallery as a beautiful expression of life and the world through music, drawings, pottery or any creative form of expression that is perceived as talent.

For 28 years-old Fidelis Kyalo, art is not only talent, but a calling that has kept his family afloat for three years.

Fidelis who operates in Kisumu City and Oyugis town selling his arts says he started drawing at a young age of seven during leisure but has since continued doing it as a mean of earning a living.

In 2017, he said a friend noticed his accurate method of capturing moments and telling stories through a pencil and paper and advised him to nature the talent by joining an art school.

“A friend encouraged me to join art school to pursue art as a career. He told me that what I had was raw talent but why settle for raw talent when I can have a polished talent as a career,” he said.

Fidelis finished high school education in 2014 but has not yet joined any tertiary institution since his dream was to join the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

“After high school, I wanted to join the army but I had cold feet. I later started doing side hustles at construction sites and later got employed at a greenhouse,” said Fidelis

Despite the multiple endeavours he got into to earn a living, Fidel says he continued drawing whenever he could and he finally decided to pursue it as a career.

Fidelis Kyalo holding one of his canvas painting of a grey Wolf.

In late 2017, he discussed his interest to join art school with his step mother who he described as an understanding and open-minded woman.

Luckily for him, the matter was taken in seriously and he got admitted into Mwangaza Art School in Kisumu.

“I talked to my stepmom who understood me better than my father. All she asked for was some art pieces I had done and she found it amazing. By 2018, January my father was also impressed and I joined Mwangaza Art School,” he explained.

Fidelis said he enrolled for a four-year course where he learned the complexity of art as an entity. At the school, he learned to do other art forms like sculpture making, pottery, jewelry making, interior home decorations and canvas painting.

“If I had not joined art school, I wouldn’t have been able to learn the new skills I’ve gained,” he said noting that these additional skills have also provided for him and his family.

Fidelis recalled his first pay slip which he said was a Sh13,000 cheque for a pencil art of traditional drums which he sold to international investors who came to visit their school during a graduation preparation meeting.

He explained that his wife helped him invest the money wisely when she advised him to open a thrift male wear shop where they currently sell sweat pants, printed shirts, and hoodies, and head capes.

“After I got that cheque, I discussed with my wife extensively on how to spend it. She suggested that we open a male thrift wear shop with only Sh11,000 and that is when we opened our ‘SMART MAN’ shop in Kisumu,” he said.

Alongside the shop, Fidel said he continued making his beaded jewelry, pots, vases, interior home decorations and canvas art which he sells.

He further noted that he also receives contracts to paint corporate buildings, homes, schools where he does school wall drawings and also does requested paintings.

“With such contracts, I can make up to Sh20,000 depending on the contract itself,” he continued “My first school contract I made Sh6,000 just for painting and drawing.”

With his good work and reputation, he says, he has been recommended to more schools and businesses where he would make a minimum of Sh3,000 in four hours.

Despite his efforts over the years, Fidelis however explained that he has faced similar challenges both as a student and a professional artist.

“My greatest challenge is art materials. They are costly and their availability at most local stores is limited. I currently struggle with clients who do not understand how costly it can be to make a decent art piece,” he said emphasizing on his hope of clients understanding the market prices and making reasonable negotiations.

Amidst the great strides he has made as a youth earning from art, Fidel says that he still has dreams of expanding.

He revealed his intentions to join a film school to learn animation. “I further intend to contact story / text book authors, magazine and newspaper companies with an aim of featuring my art with them,” he said.

Fidelis notes that his best moment would be when his art work echoes hopes of prosperity to other talented youth as he dismissed the common belief that only white-collar courses and jobs pay.

He lauds the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) saying it would offer opportunities for talented pupils to explore and nurture their talents.

Fidelis noted that the incorporation of talent in schools would usher in new era of remarkable opportunities for people to earn a living.

“Grind hard on both your studies and talent. Not only corporate jobs pay these days, work on your talent, it might help too,” he said.

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