HomeStandard PeopleArtist earns a living through portraits

Artist earns a living through portraits

GlenView-based visual artist, Mugove Mangena, is one of the few painters that still boast of earning a living from their talent.


Due to lack of local appreciation of visual arts, most artists are finding it hard to market their works but Mangena says he is happy to live on painting.

The 31-year-old artist uses canvas, artistic oil, board, turpentine and a set of brushes for his pieces. He does portraits, landscape images and many other paintings, according to his clients’ requests.

“I thank God for making me realise that my passion for art would be enriched by going to school. At school I realised that I could do more than just drawings and I learnt painting. To this day, I live on it,” said Mangena.

He worked in a visual art gallery in South Africa for many years and his passion for art grew. Mangena says he has always loved art in the form of pencil drawings and fate led him closer to his dream when he was employed at the gallery.

He decided to enhance his art through enrolling at the Peter Birch School of Art in 2006 for a Diploma in Fine Arts.

After completing the diploma, he returned home to pursue his greatest passion of being a full-time visual artist.

He said it usually takes him about two to three weeks to complete a painting, depending on its size and from each piece he makes at least US$300.

“I am glad to have built a very reliable clientele. Among those I have done portraits and paintings for are Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and soccer star Benjani Mwaruwari. I have done paintings for many other prominent people,” he said.

He said Mwaruwari’s portrait was the biggest he had done so far, adding he was happy with the many orders he received.

His greatest challenge is that only a few people understand the value of his works. He said most of his local clients wanted their portraits for very low prices, which he said was not good for his business.

“The local market for painting is rather low and there are a few schools that specialise on this subject, which is why people undervalue the artistic products.”

He said the material used to bring out a piece was very expensive and hence he has to charge prices that make his art sustainable.

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