Dennis Thuita dropped out of Technical University of Mombasa where he was pursuing a degree in building and civil engineering. The latter was not an accredited course, which saw him forgo his studies and instead focus on being an artist. The early twenties artist doesn’t regret the path he took despite criticism from several quarters that he is wasting away ‘doing nothing’ instead of working in a white collar job. Art to him is like any other career that puts his food on the table as well as in meeting his other financial commitments. His tools of trade are ivory papers, pencils, brushes, canvases, acrylic and oil paints.
Why the art?
I would be an engineer today or in another career field that is deemed ‘normal’ for a graduate and not being an artist. Art is something I have engaged in for so long and which has been part of my life. It is something in me – an innate skill. Back then when I was a pupil at St Lwanga Primary School in Bahati, Nakuru, I would draw from observations of a newspaper, textbooks or magazines similar looking pictures. When I joined Jomo Kenyatta high school, also in Bahati, I was able to study art as a subject. I love reality with a passion and expressing things and sending messages using human faces and figures. I am a realist artist.
First, many do not take me seriously and views my occupation as a way of having fun and wasting time. It is sad that that many believe white collar jobs are well paying but to me, art is amongst the best paying careers in the world. The price of an art piece has no limit. I have been criticized by many who believe I would be faring better in another field like engineering or medicine. As with any job, art has its own fair share of challenges. Some people make requests for portraits but take ages to collect them or others may not collect them at all. I’m trying to handle this by requesting every client to pay a 40% deposit before I start working on their pieces. Pricing an art piece is another area many do not understand and which usually sees clients claim they are being overcharged. Charges, however, are determined by the size and type of artwork one needs.Wha are challenges that come with being an artist?
Give a breakdown of your charges
Where do you exhibit your works? For pencil portraits (drawings) a 27cm by 36cm will cost one Sh2500. A 36cm by 48cm portrait is Sh4000 while a 48cm by 64cm goes for Sh6000. All prices are inclusive of a standard quality framing. Painting (watercolours, oil colours and acrylics) goes differently. A 30cm by 40cm art piece will cost one Sh4000. A 45cm by 60cm goes for Sh6000, a 60cm by 80cm costs Sh8000 with a 75cm by 100cm going for Sh10, 000. The prices are slightly negotiable and clients are required to make a 40% deposit before I can start on their portraits. However, prices can change depending on market factors like inflation or depreciation of the currency.
Currently, I’m showcasing my works on social media but I’m working on art piece for exhibitions in public soon.
Do you have a fallback plan other than art?
I’m not engaged in another side hustle as I have made art my business. The journey, though challenging, has been swift with witnessed growth through the numbers of orders, averaging ten a month, that have kept me occupied.