Turning art into a thriving business

Ingrid Uys working on one of her pieces of art. Image: Supplied

Ingrid Uys working on one of her pieces of art. Image: Supplied

Published Jul 11, 2024


When you visit the countryside one can’t help but feel inspired, and after growing up in various small towns in South Africa, fine artist Ingrid E Uys’s creative juices began flowing at an early age.

This was how Uys’s passion was born, she told Business Report, “Ever since I can remember, creating art has been where I feel at peace, a way to express and explore to translate experiences and find meaning. I have been drawing and painting ever since I can remember, it has always been a way to understand and interpret the world around me.”

Choosing art as a career can be tricky, but Uys said it was something she was determined to do after garnering support from her family and friends.

“After years growing up in small towns such as Clarens, Harrismith and Middelburg, and many years spent in different art studios and lessons from various teachers and mentors, I studied BA fine art at the University of Pretoria, and graduated in 2007. Talent is maybe the ticket to the game, but it takes a very long time and extremely hard work, dedication and sacrifice to shape a career as an artist,” she said.

Uys wears her tribulations as a badge of honour, as she said breaking into this industry takes a long time, endless amounts of blood sweat, tears, patience and perseverance.

She said, “It takes all of the above as well as finding your place and the right representation to help grow and establish your career as a fine artist. I am fortunate to have wonderful supportive family and friends who encouraged me to pursue my dream. There were so many times I questioned my choice for a career and thought of changing direction, initially, there is a big lack of external validation.”

Ingrid Uys with one of her art pieces at a gallery. Image: Supplied

As a full-time professional fine artist, Uys has her work represented by galleries and designers: White River Gallery, Artyli Gallery in Sandton, Candice Berman, and she also owns her studio in Johannesburg, where she is currently based with her family.

“My style and technique with oil painting is a labour-intensive process and is time-consuming. Some pieces take months to complete, not to mention the expensive prices of the materials I use,” Uys shared.

As technology advanced over the years, especially with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, one may think the market for fine art has shrunk, however, Uys said this was not entirely the case.

“I have been fortunate enough to have my work represented and sold at a number of high-end and prestigious exhibitions at galleries and art fairs, such as the Latitudes Art Fair, where the people understand and support the value of original art and either believe in the investment value or personal connection of an artwork. Rather than viewing new tech and AI as a threat to original art, I believe it can be a very beneficial tool for artists to explore and show new directions in their work, though the human presence in a piece is not something one can easily replace.”

The fine artist said the theme which she centres her work around is what she describes as “Fragile Time, Impermanence, and Fleeting Moments”.

This was introduced with her first solo exhibition, represented by Halifax Art in Johannesburg.

This recurring theme was inspired by the birth of her first daughter in 2014, and has since developed and grew into an even deeper and more personal concept.

“I have since delved deeper into this theme, focusing on metaphors to visualise this idea of ‘moments captured in time’. The hummingbird in flight gives this illusion of being frozen in time, the blossoms are both fragile and fleeting, and thus perfect images to reflect on the impermanence and the value of a few precious moments. How quickly things change, how time seems to disappear and how “full” and sometimes chaotic a single moment can be. And now, raising three little humans while pursuing a career as a fine artist is more true than ever. A beautiful chaos as I like to call it,” Uys said.

On taking on other work, she further said, “I only do commission/custom work of something that will/can be included in my portfolio. For instance if a client requires a specific size or budget for something similar to what I have done. If it is not a subject matter I feel comfortable to work with, I will refer to another artist.”

Fine artist Ingrid Uys. Image: Supplied