Artify Botswana is setting the local revolutionary pace for art capacity and appreciation. It is both a pacesetter and an inspirational beacon for creative innovation. The 6th of November 2020 marks the first of many for the online art market-store. In the early Friday morning of that fateful day, an interview had erupted through Botswana’s airwaves. Duma FM, a local radio station, had courteously asked for the reception of Artify’s e-commerce manager, Mr. Nonofo Thamage.
The discussion centered on the brilliant idea that catapulted the establishment of the first Motswana online-based art marketplace. The reverence worthy spot on Duma FM’s Real Time show reveals the real colossal quest and value Artify has on the art industry. The beguiled presenter of the show, Ms. Lettie Kopi listened on with much intrigue as Mr. Thamage spew first-hand insight into the actual fabric that fundamentally built the mission and vision of Artify Botswana.
Seconds elapsing just before the interview, Thabsie and Kwesta’s Skhathi Sam jammed through the waves’ background music. A grand introductory metaphor of ‘baby’ Artify to the world depicting it’s time to shine.
The interview went somewhat like this:
Ms. Lettie Kopi: Joining us today in our interview segment is Mr. Nonofo Thamage. Mr. Thamage is an e-commerce Manager for Artify Botswana. Thank you for joining us today. Locally, art is considered a form of entertainment, and never a real source of income. Our guest today will take us through Artify Botswana and how they are breaking the norm of a ‘normal working place’.
Q1. Can you kindly take us through the journey of an online Art Marketplace and Artify Botswana?
Mr. Thamage: Thank you for having me, I am excited to be part of the show.
A1. An online art marketplace is not a new concept. In fact, online art marketplaces have been around since two decades ago. Companies like Facebook and Amazon incited a new trend. Silicon Valley companies helped others realized that art is a good commodity to sell online. Like a light bulb, the eureka of online art marketplaces and galleries became a haven establishment for growing arts. The drawback is with African countries which often catch late on these trends.
The internet creates a lot of opportunities, likewise for visual arts. The journey of Artify Botswana begins when the founder of Artify, the tenacious Ms. Mphule Dipao. Ms. Dipao is a Computing with Finance University of Botswana graduate took part in a local University Challenge initiated by CEDA and BDSA. It entails aspiring entrepreneurs taking part in the creation of cutting edge ideas for industry enhancement. Inspired by handcraft making elderly women in village who seldom get access to buyers, she wanted to solve the access problem. Geographical location is often a challenge as buyers can be international customers. The birth of Artify followed therein after the founder had an urge to create an online art marketplace to relinquish access and connect buyers and sellers easily.
Q2. How does the Artify platform work to assist artists and interested buyers?
A2. Artify assists both sellers (artists) and buyers.
Artify assists sellers with; marketing& advertising their products, it helps facilitate transaction payments and gives the artists or sellers the freedom to dictate product offering and pricing.
Artify also assists buyers with; aggregate product selection, where, buyers have access to multiple ranges of artworks. The platform creates access to local artworks from any buyer in the world. It is a convenient selling point.
Q3. Take us through the process for an artist interested in using the Artify platform?
A3. To use the Artify platform follows a simple registration process. The interested seller creates an Artify artist account at www.artifybotswana.com for registration. After registration completion, the account details of the artist will appear and a virtual shop will be created on their behalf. Once the virtual shop is up, buyers can upload their artworks.
On the buyers’ spectrum, they can virtually view the artworks, leave a review or comment, and even send a private message to the artists. Whenever, buyers like a certain artwork, they may purchase it with ease, all in one digital platform.
Commentary by Lettie: A display of the artworks on the platform enables people to see what they are actually buying.
Q4. Name the type of artworks uploaded on Artify?
A4. For distinguished branding purposes, Artify’s niche market is visual artists. These include; photography (varying categories), painting, sculpture& carvings, ceramics& pottery, beadwork, drawings and illustration, and Digital Arts.
Q5. Give your view on passionate artists perceived as non-talented. Take the controversial Rasta, the painter from South Africa for instance.
A5. On the struggling artist connotation; Batswana artists are very talented. Local artists may lack the navigation know-how as access to the markets is the greatest challenge. Traditional platforms like exhibitions and brick & mortar galleries do not cater to everyone because of proximity, distance, and other factors. The Artify platform bridges that access gap.
Commentary by Lettie…
A5. Art is a form of self-expression. There are inherently no rules of engagement or formulae to it. Personally, I view Rasta’s type of art different but intriguing. He has managed to get a large following because of his distinctive approach to art.
Q6. What is the growth rate according to you for the local art market? is it growing and what is your futuristic expectation in the next 3-5 years?
A6. Art is a growing industry. From a global perspective, the art industry is approximately worth around $68 billion. Now, honing it down to the local market, a lot of local artists are making a living out of the arts and many can still come on board. Art is a high-end value type of product; it can sustain artists for a very long time.
Youth have a certain type of flair towards approaching bizarre concepts like art. I anticipate exponential growth in the next 3-5 years. I cannot wait to see a lot of young people engaging in art.*At this point, Mr. Thamage could not contain his excitement as he expressed an optimistic future for the art industry.* Quote on the quote; “I bet my winning horse on Art to run the race.”
Q7. Where do you see Art in the next 10 years?
A7. Every day, an increased number of people are giving Art their attention. Art boosts the economy for the South African creative industry. It is definitely a competitive and lucrative industry that can sustain local revenue generation and Botswana’s economic sustainability. In the future, art will not be viewed as a side hustle or hobby. Art will be a solid source of income. We anticipate full-time career artists.
Q8. What goes into the running of an online Art marketplace, especially in Botswana where advertising is not that big?
A8. The Division of our services is in 3 ways; to assist sellers online, to assist buyers, and to assist both the buyer and seller through our social media platforms. It follows a simple process for account creation, upload of artworks, and goes through the verification process.
Artworks on the Artify platform undergo a verification process before they are uploaded. Necessary checks therein create an element of integrity. Once it is verified, the artwork will be uploaded officially to the platform. The website is digitally linked to our social media platforms. This enables ease of advertisement and artist data management. Data research done through the verification step is a fraud eliminator that protects artists.
Q9. A large following does not always equate to buyers. How can a following be converted to buyers?
A9. First, I would like to take this time to extend an invitation to all visual artists in Botswana to try our online art marketplace. Regardless of the number of followers, artists need business acumen and a set of marketing skills in which not all artists possess. Artify is a great component that relieves artists of all the extra duties-they rely on the trusted platform for all admin whilst they focus on the most important part of their work, that is, being creative. A large following is commendable and applaud worthy. However, Artify creates a global outreach that extends the artworks to markets that can actually afford and willing to buy the artworks.
I urge all artists to use social media as a good branding platform, Artify platform does the insurmountable work of professional portfolio creation and review, advice, and other support services. Artify is at the forefront of taking Botswana to the world. The culture, history, and tourism of Botswana are promoted in the process. The vibrant website also includes informative segments that educate a new generation of art appreciators (how to paint, how to draw etc).
Q10. How is the local Response? Are Batswana buying Art?
A10. People buy art. Access had been the game-changer. The trends are changing with this digitally savvy generation. Although art is a lucrative business, Artify Botswana is still a baby. Artify is taking stride baby steps. It is expected that people do not respond to change easily. Although not profit-focused, Artify is a company that provides VALUE and makes a profit. The most important element for Artify Botswana is to give back to the people. The reception is still a bit shaky because we are still new but in terms of art appreciation, there is a proven growth. The anticipation is in the next couple of years.
Request for full interview clip: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kGAPoSgEwQP6coL8P_Ypzzclao3buJhd/view?ts=5faeac75