Since primary school Michael Daman always knew he’d be an artist. But the journey wasn’t always easy for the Mombasa born creative. A series of fortunate events, helping hands, 25,000Kes and a competition changed the trajectory of his life; allowing him to put his vision of Kenya on canvas.
Daman’s most prized piece captures the innocence of children. The deep charcoal eyes look into your soul, a true reflection of a similar upbringing he had. Paid with Mandazis or 50Ksh Daman used his surroundings as a canvas. From the dirt people disregarded to scraps of paper, Daman was simply perfecting his skillset.
His world changed in 2006. Participating in the Kiwi Art Competition, winning 25,000Ksh and a trophy would have thrown any young man off (especially the cash prize). Daman however had a grander vision. By putting his money towards art classes and school fees Daman ensured his chances of becoming a better artist.
His Safaricom art piece only took him two weeks to complete. He had enough practice to create a masterpiece at this point.
Daman was adamant about the fact that”building a community helps artists grow.” The art indusrty is already a difficult industry to get into. Due to corruption hardly any money circulating within the country, affecting almost all sectors of the arts. Young artists like Daman have to get creative in order to secure their craft. Daman moved to a bedsitter with a fellow artist and friend Joseph. Setting up their painting studio and mentoring 23 year old Joseph.
You can never go wrong in terms of mentoring a younger artist. Teaching them ways to avoid the mistakes you made, learning new techniques and simply feeling like someone understands you. That’s exactly what Daman has done with Joseph Gichuhi. Known in the art world as Guama Arts, Joseph Gichuhi is paving his own way through canvas.
Majority of his work can be described as hyperrealism and is heavily based on graphite and charcoal work. Only 23 and sharpening his skills, the young man will be on your walls in the near future.
The young men met in 2017. It was an instant bond due to their similar upbringing, hardship and love of art. They have overcome so many obstacles but remind focused on starting their studio. They knew from when they met it would be easier to navigate the industry if they work together and they were absolutely right. Early this year all their hard work, sacrifice and rejections finally paid off. They opened their studio in a one bedroom apartment and finally had a place to create consistant art.
Joseph had also applied for the Safaricom art competition and plans to apply again.
To Daman and Joseph, the quality of the products they use elevate the quality of the work produced. Importing majority of their electric erasers, canvases, paints and paint brushes. They want to produce the best with the best.
The men plan on continuing to perfect their craft, open to collaborate with seasoned and new artists they have put the true meaning of umoja to not only their studio but their art. Putting Kenya on canvas has opened up a world of opportunities for artists like Daman. Humbled to receive a helping hand he has paid it forward by building a community within a community on canvas.
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