By Katie O’Reilly-Boyles (Originally published on Aug 26, 2013)
Creating traditional African art on Bahari Beach may sound like the dream job, but 29 year old Musti has been working hard at his artist’s studio, Zamani Sanaa, Swahili for ‘Old Art’ for over a year and a half. Painted using water colours and oil paints on canvas, the Tingatinga style which he uses is very popular with art lovers, so Musti’s workshop is gradually growing as a successful business as he makes contacts, and his studio/gallery becomes more well-known in the area.
Although he has been interested in pursuing his talent for painting for the last six years, Musti wasn’t always going to become a professional painter. His creative ability was evidently always present, however, because he was an artist in a different respect, working as a lyricist and singer as a teenager! As well as his pastimes including sports activities and travelling, art was also a hobby alongside this, but his passion for painting truly blossomed and developed in his twenties.
Although creative arts seem to run in the family, with his brother being an artist and filmmaker as well as a boxer, Musti tells us that his inspiration was himself, as he made the important decision to change from music to art, feeling that this could be a more successful life plan. Quickly and successfully learning how to use strong and vibrant colours to produce Tingatinga at Bagamoyo, where his friend was studying sculpture, his art career was soon launched. Unlike many shops which may have security apparatus or perhaps a security guard to prevent the merchandise from being snatched, Musti insists that he does not need to worry about people stealing art which is in the style of Tingatinga because of its traditional nature, and the fact that even potential thieves would therefore not disrespect it to that extent.
Although Musti runs the business himself, he does have some helping hands around the studio from some boys, who he mentors and wants to teach working skills in order to help them survive in the future. Similarly, Musti, although retaining his individual talents for producing the Tingatinga art, is keen to pass on his expertise, and the joy of expressing through art, to people who want to come to the workshop, hire some canvas and learn how to produce traditional African art.
Admitting that Art in Tanzania has been very helpful and supportive for his career, he also wants his art business to be internationalized – we hope to see more of Musti’s work in the future!