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Monday, 5 May 2014

Selling art supplies in an organic way

By Andrew Mulenga

After spotting a niche in the professional art supplies market on the Zambian scene in 2011, Candice Rogoff decided to have a go at setting up shop, she envisioned a small store and eventually came up with the with The Art Shop Zambia LTD which she established at Ababa House on the corner of Twikatane Road and Addis Ababa Drives in Lusaka.

Candice - the challenge is not
selling art supplies, but
creating a market for them
She describes the process as a natural development for her as she had always been in the creative arts, buying and selling, crafting and creating in various mediums.

Born in Johannesburg, she attended The National School of Arts and majored in Ballet but after school, realising her passion was not in dance she went on to study fashion design and a few years later in the late 1990s she  started her first business, manufacturing crafts.

But for the art shop, she began by establishing relationships with her primary suppliers of high quality art products, which she sources from France, England and South Africa. Rogoff says it is a difficult process as she has to order and ship large quantities to make the retail price cost effective and as an importer she has to pay in advance for stock, customs, V.A.T and freight. In the first year of business she spent time trying to find her feet, understanding the art of importing her wares and understanding what sort of materials her customers want.

But despite the logistical challenges, the business appears to be booming and Rogoff is enjoying a growing number of sales from mainstream artists, students and some schools that place an order every now and then.

Kiss My Ass (acrylic on canvas) by Candice Rogoff
“I also feel that there is a lot of future potential in the art scene as art is becoming a subject in the Zambian Schools. This means more people will be introduced into the art world,” she observes.
Last year she came up with the Ababa House Art Group. Every Wednesday at 9:00hrs “everyday people” and beginners meet at the art shop, just to have fun with art, attendance is free except the only catch is that you have to come with your own materials or at least buy them from The Art Shop Zambia LTD. 

All walks of life are encouraged to explore their creative side and of late it has begun to attract everyone from security guards to bank managers. In fact some of the artists from the Wednesday workshops featured quite prominently in the  For The Love of Art exhibition in February this year as well as the  Small Works and Miniatures Exhibition” annually coordinated by independent art promoter, Serena Ansley and the Red Dot Gallery at the Zebra Crossings Café in December. 

Rogoff‘s own work is regularly featured in group exhibitions at the Zebra Crossings Café too. She has become known for her mischievous little paintings of female nudes that for some reason are always quite popular. Some of them even have the quirky titles to match, such as “Kiss My Ass” that depicts the bare rumps of a woman, leaving nothing to the imagination, or “Oolala” that featured in the Hidden Talents Revealed exhibition last year which shows a naked woman playfully covering her privates with both hands. Her nudes are usually cropped to an “area of interest” and rarely feature heads and shoulders. 

Oolala (oil on canvas) by Candice Rogoff
“I am exploring all facets and all mediums related to art. So I have always wanted to attempt to paint the human figure. I am painting "her" in stages, I really do enjoy painting the female form, "she" is beautiful and extremely powerful and she should be valued and admired,” explains Rogoff of her passion to depict the female figure.

But this year in For The Love of Art one of her recent works entitled Hey Rooster proves that with continued practice she is developing a very convincing painterly hand, exhibiting slight impasto with bold, confident brush strokes and a well-versed use of the colour wheel. But besides this exhibit of know-how, she insists that she will be enrolling full time with the Zambia Open University in the Fine Art programme, because not only do the flexible hours work to her advantage, but she is particularly interested in the live model drawing the institution is now offering. 

Nevertheless, due to an ever increasing attendance of the Wednesday workshops, The Art Shop Zambia LTD has introduced Thursday evening workshops, except these attract a fee probably because they are conducted by an professional artist, Richard Kirby. Once in a while The Art Shop Zambia LTD also announces specialized workshops such as Paper Quilling, Soft Pastel and Water Colours.

Hey Rooster (acrylic on canvas) by Candice Rogoff
As for the sale of the art supplies, Rogoff says she has been thinking of expansion and would like to possibly have an outlet in Livingstone, no doubt because there is a large concentration of active artists in the tourism capital.

Her main rivals remain the book shops and stationary sections in the large South-African owned supermarket chain stores across the country but she is content that for artists who really know their professional needs, her shop is the place to go.

She insists that the challenge is not selling art supplies, but creating a market for them to be sold in, which she says she is achieving in an organic and steady way.


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