Ntale turns artists into entrepreneurs

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Ntale turns artists into entrepreneurs
Ntale turns artists into entrepreneurs

Africa-PressUganda. Besides the art studio, Ntale runs a metal fabrication and carpentry workshop where furniture and metal items such as kitchen cabinets, beds, wardrobes, shelves, chairs are made to tap into the interior design business.

The story of Christopher Derrick Ntale is one of triumph over those who told him he was not good enough. In the run-up to his graduation day, he approached some established artists in Kampala who rejected his work on the basis that “it was not good enough to be showcased in the galleries.”

Instead of giving up, he kept looking for opportunities. He found a job placement at SMS One, a telecommunications company as an illustrator for the Mixakids project.

Ntale graduated with a Bachelor’s degree of Industrial Art from Kyambogo University in 2011. He was employed until 2016. His goal was to save money to set up a studio where he would open doors to artists to work and showcase their skills to Ugandan art lovers.

Today, Deliq Art Studio in Mbuya is a dream come true.

At the mid day, young women are busy at work, painting in a room. One of the 15 artists, is 20-year-old Stella Nalutaaya who joined the studio while in Senior Five (S.5). Living and studying in the neighboUrhood of Mbuya, she admired the art pieces in Deliq Art Studio whenever she passed by.

“In 2018, I visited the studio and asked if I could be taught how to improve my drawing. Ntale welcome and started teaching me. I have since learnt painting, sanding furniture and fixings,” Nalutaaya explains.

Space for entrepreneurs

Ntale who was not profit-driven to set up the studio allows artists and non-artists to find a home to work and learn. Here, they find mentoring and exchange artistic ideas.

Besides the art studio, Ntale runs a metal fabrication and carpentry workshop where furniture and metal items such as kitchen cabinets, beds, wardrobes, shelves, chairs are made to tap into the interior design business.

The art graduate says the workshop sustains them in terms of paying rent and other operational costs. Ntale says that each of them has unique skills.

Hebert Muhwezi is a self-taught carpenter, animation, interior designer and illustrator. When the group gets a job to handle an interior design client, Muhwezi draws artistic impressions.

But, he could not study beyond Senior Six due to some economic hardships. Muhwezi eventually linked up with Ntale who partly taught him at Central College in Mityana.

“I turned to Google and YouTube to learn all that I know and use at the workshop. I would advise fellow young people not to lose hope when they are unable to continue in formal education. Let them open up to vocational training as a good source of knowledge and income,” the 23-year-old advises.

He was the first person Ntale worked with when he opened the studio on 10th of April, 2016. Ntale argues that whereas formal education is important, it did not prepare him for the realities of the working world because of the missing link of applied art.

“What I learnt and what clients demand for are different. I found myself not good enough and relevant in the working place. I needed to reskill myself by learning from others as well as using online platforms,” the proprietor of Deliq Art Studio testifies.

During the Covid-19, the studio sold 25 art pieces. One of them was Nalutaaya’s which she sold at Shs400,000.

He says that they have only sold their art and fabrications to Ugandans some of whom come up with their ideas and ask the artists to execute them.

Tonny Agaba, a fresh graduate from Kyambogo University was in awe of the items made at the metal fabrication and carpentry shop when he scrolled through a friend’s phone.

He was curious to know where they are made and that is how his friend, James Muhumuza took him there. He has stayed there, to learn and now earns a livelihood. He can make centre tables and paints too.

“Part of me regrets going to school and the money paid in tuition. The course did not have an applied art element. It was not hands-on. I implore those in school to utilise their S.4 and S.6 to utilise vacation to learn vocational skills,” Agaba argues.

Sketch artist, painter

Additionally, Muhumuza, a sketch artist and painter, says that university lectures cheated him of practical learning so he considers the daily studio, metal and woodwork a great addition especially because he was unsure of what he would do after graduation.

He has recently sold a painting at Shs800, 000. Ntale says he shares the returns from the art sales in 40/60 arrangement with artists. Sometimes, he will let the artists have all their profit as a way of encouraging them to keep going.

“I needed to know my strength. Now I have learnt more and would like to become better than Derrick,” a determined Muhumuza adds.

Like any business, the studio maintains the tenets of business.

19-year-old Ashraf Kisaame is the studio’s accountant. He has been mentored into the position because of his zeal and willingness to learn. He joined the establishment in 2017 while in S.4.

At school, there were no art teachers. “The school did not consider art important yet I loved the subject. My brother referred to Deliq Studio because he was friends with Derrick. As an intern, I have been able to learn how to paint and hyper realism drawing in addition to metal wielding and fabrications and woodwork,” he explains.

The youngster has sold 13 drawings and 28 paintings. Kisaame has a savings account where he banks them. He has applied to join Nakawa Vocational School to pursue a course in carpentry and woodwork.

“I advise young people to enroll for vocational studies because they are hands-on and you can use the skills to fend for yourself,” the 19-year-old advises.

The other members of the artistic establishment are drawers, painters and also double as metal welders, fabricators and carpentry.

They include Newton Ntale, Samuel Odyek, Fred Samuel, Wilson Ofwonya, Henry Byamukama, Noah Andida, Susannah Masanne, Pius Mugabo, James Mulangira, Rita’s Nakamya, Peter Owori and Geoffrey Akina.

To make business sense of the gallery, Ntale is diversifying into visual art.

“Applied art and technology puts us in a position to execute unbeatable tasks as far as interior design, furniture, metal fabrication, computer generated images and animation are concerned.”

He adds that with team work and artistic foundation of each of the individuals, developing concepts for clients has widely expanded market for their products. He says people should learn to try out whatever they are interested in.

Vocational training

Using tutorials to learn

Hebert Muhwezi is a self-taught carpenter, animation, interior designer and illustrator. When the group gets a job to handle an interior design client, Muhwezi draws artistic impressions. But, he could not study beyond Senior Six due to some economic hardships. Muhwezi eventually linked up with Ntale who partly taught him at Central College in Mityana.

“I turned to Google and YouTube to learn all that I know and use at the workshop. I would advise fellow young people not to lose hope when they are unable to continue in formal education. Let them open up to vocational training as a good source of knowledge and income,” the 23-year-old advises.

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