The odyssey of a young visual artist in Bangladesh | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 08, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:40 AM, April 08, 2021

The odyssey of a young visual artist in Bangladesh

"Why not do it for the sake of exposure?" inquires Saadman, your classmate, when confronted with the perils of asking for your payment for the sixth logo redesign for his "groundbreaking" streetwear startup.

In between the freeloaders (guised in the veil of friendship) and the established business firm demanding your services, there is no denying that the come-up of a visual artist is arduous. It is only in the past few years that the industry has gained any real momentum locally. Nonetheless, the question remains: how much are the skillsets really valued, if at all?

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This creates a dynamic of imbalance between the client and the creator – where the input of the artist is virtually lost. What begins as a pursuit of expressing oneself becomes a slippery slope towards compensating for commercial appeal at the expense of one's own vision. Inevitably, personal projects come to a halt, burnouts occur more frequently and art blocks are omnipresent. In addition, the guilt of feeling like a "sell-out" is a telltale to the artist's endeavour.

Photographer and motion graphic artist Zunayed Noor, 18, reflects on the general attitude towards experimentation. "The room for experimentation is nulled in the first place because of the standards set by everyone in the industry, which has become the norm. Clients often don't care about styles as long as you're taking pictures and meeting the criteria," he says. "Even if you take your time with personal projects and lay the groundwork for your visual style, you might not be able to use it commercially due to clients not being flexible about these things."

On the flip side, Zunayed has also had a client approach him for his distinct style of video editing and even implemented it in their content. These are, of course, exceptions. With little to no room for exploring the limits, the wide majority of creatives on the market end up with a portfolio lacking originality, riddled with bland commercial work. As a result, such portfolios will stand to represent a market clustered with low-quality technical skills.

17-year-old graphic designer Faisal Rahman laments that clients are unwilling to value what the artist has to contribute in the conversation. "More often than not, they will blow over whatever my thought process for a specific design is and almost demean my input," he says.

Faisal feels that such a one-sided approach emerges because of a corporate need to implement art and design into their brand, not because they want it. This creates room for conformity.

Back in the day, one might have wandered into a print shop somewhere in Nilkhet and asked the computer guy to make a logo in minutes without sparing much thought or cash into it.

It is, however, vital that creators learn to cope with feedback and bad clients. Negotiating, setting adequate prices, having a solid grasp of the trade are just a few skills required to make it in an oversaturated industry. While artists have their own set of responsibilities, employers and clients must make sure that an upcoming generation of rising talent is not depleted and have their passion burned out.

Abir Hossain is a failed SoundCloud Rapper. Tell him you too can't find anything to rhyme oranges with at fb/abir.hossain.19


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