Kiwanuka has perfected the art of street painting

At a tender age of just seven years, Michael Kiwanuka was making funny drawings in his books.

Born to the late Solomon Sserunkuuma and late Margaret Sserunkuuma, in the Kampala suburb of Bukesa, Kiwanuka always admired the drawings of his elder brother.

“My late uncle on my dad’s side was a good artist and it was the same thing on my mum’s side. My uncle was also a great artist. I can say it is in my blood. I began practicing art at the age of seven where I would practice drawing in books. I think my elder brother inspired me because he would draw movie scenes in books and I admired his work,” Kiwanuka says.

He says when he went to school at Namirembe Infants Primary School he joined the art club where he continued improving his art skills and continued with art even at A- level.

At university, he did a diploma in art, specializing in painting, fabric decoration and drawing.

Kiwanuka says in all this, he always admired artists on Kampala streets.

“I would always be amazed and admired artists doing painting on Kampala streets. I grew determined to do it better than them,” he says.

Going commercial

Kiwanuka says that in his senior six vacation, he took art to another level by commercializing his talent.

“In my senior six vacation, someone who had previously seen my drawings was inspired by what I was doing. He asked me to paint a sign post. It came out perfect and many others started hiring me to paint for them. At the end of the vacation, I had earned myself Shs100,000,” he adds.

According to Kiwanuka, the shs100,000 was enough for him to kick off the journey officially since he used it to buy pencils, boards, canvases and other materials that he used to start the art business.

“My first customer was my friend, I painted his picture and posted it on Facebook. Many people loved it and through social media, many started giving me business. Up to now, I mostly get my clients through social media whereas others are referrals,” he says.

He says his art pieces go for between shs150, 000 and shs500, 000 depending on the size and type.

“An A3 drawing in pencil only which is  framed goes for Shs 150,000 whereas an A2 size  is  shs250,000 well framed and A1 is 400,000. On the other side, a well framed A3 painting goes for Shs 300, 000, Shs 400,000 for A2 size and Shs 500,000 for A1 size. For a wall mural, it depends on how many people are in the painting or drawing,” he says.

His customers are mostly friends and relatives of people he has ever done work for as well as those in his neighbourhood who appreciate his work

“I am proud of my work because I have made many friends, met new people and got various ideas not only in art but also other businesses. I have been able to buy myself a piece of land but also set up other small businesses,” he says.

Kiwanuka says he has the challenge of working on art pieces and clients fail to pay which leads to losses.

Kiwanuka has some advice for fellow youths.

“If you have a talent, develop and chase it. Whatever money you get, save a part of it. Above all, trust in God in everything you do.”

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