A Career in the Fine Arts is Feasible

By Edmund Wang

The image of the ‘starving artist’ is a commonly invoked stereotype in Singapore, as those with specialised qualifications, such as in Engineering and Accounting, have traditionally been highly-valued and accordingly rewarded with generous remuneration.

However that could very well be yesteryear’s story. With Singapore on the verge of joining a select group or nations as ‘Developed Countries’, the wheels have been set in motion for our little red dot to place greater emphasis on the arts.

A Cultural Shift
As Singaporeans increasingly begin to look beyond pure academic achievements, art schools such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Lasalle College of the Arts, as well as the recently established, School of the Arts (SOTA) have started gaining increased notice. Advocates of visual arts have also taken to online sites to promote and share artworks.

Obscured.sg is one such site. The site scavenges and curates beautiful, home-grown and raw works from the likes of aspiring writer, photographers and artists and features the contributors’ work on their site. With these sites striving to promote the local art scene, aspiring art junkies can take comfort in the cultural shift and the evolution of the art community.

Seeking out Opportunities
In addition to the migration of our mind-sets as we become more appreciative of the role the Arts play in shaping our culture and community, there are also more art galleries open for artists to showcase and sell their work. The increase in venues provides exposure for artists which will in turn open more doors to opportunities.

Situated at the economic heart of Singapore at Raffles Place, Ode to Art represents an international spectrum of artists in paintings, sculptures, photography and installation art. The gallery also promotes emerging artists from various genres of visual arts.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s central business district, Wessex Estate off Portsdown Road, with its’ monochrome colonial buildings is no longer the quiet hideout it used to be. Now managed by Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), ArtWalk@Wessex is now home to studios and galleries artists can practice their intricate craft in.

Similarly, Gillman Barracks situated at Lock Road, jointly developed by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and JTC, is now a born-again art cluster made up of public museums, commercial galleries, as well as non-profit spaces for artists to display their works.

Embarking on the Journey
With this in mind, success as a purveyor of fine arts in Singapore ultimately depends on your own effort and initiative. Here are a few tips that will keep enthusiastic artists-to-be grounded as they pursue their dreams.

1. Build up your portfolio with a wide-ranging variety of work while still keeping your full-time job. Quitting your full-time job to pursue your dream may seem logical but practising your craft full-time rarely brings about significant improvements.

2. Go for Art classes and enrichment courses. Contrary to popular belief that classroom lessons could potentially stifle imagination and stunt creativity, short courses help brush up on technical skills as well as help expose you to constructive criticism.

3. Go for events. Do not get too cooped up in the studio and forget the outside world - going for exhibitions and art shows help you build ties with fellow enthusiasts. By building your network, you expose your work to a greater audience. A one-way ticket to an esteemed art show may be all you need to realise your dreams!

Are you a purveyor of fine arts in Singapore? Share with us in the comment box below!

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