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Growth & Jobs | Tremendous growth potential in art - photographer

Published:Monday | January 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Trisha M Lee, displaying her work.
Photographer Trisha M Lee explains her thinking behind some of her pieces to customers attending a recent bazaar in St Andrew.

Pointing to heavy competition from prints coming out of China and finding their way in the local the art industry, Trisha M. Lee believes there is still huge potential for industry players to garner tremendous opportunities for growth.

Lee, in an interview with The Gleaner, said that what started 20 years ago as a hobby as a photographer has mushroomed into something that she could earn from, but she stressed the importance of artists positioning themselves to gain economically.

"A great market is there, but what I don't think we are taking advantage of, as Jamaican artists, are the opportunities that exist. The market is flooded with a lot of 'made in China' prints, and I think it's because people aren't seeing widespread availability of local art. When you go in the pharmacy, that's what you see (China-made products), so that's what you buy. If you go to [the furniture stores], that's what you see, so that's what you buy," Lee told The Gleaner.

"Artists are only found at the craft fairs that happen once a year. So if we shift our thinking and decide that we are going to tackle the market differently, then there are opportunities in the market for growth, if we position ourselves properly," she continued.

Lee said too that from her observation, the diaspora is a ripe market, as persons always want reminders of home.

"Beauty and aesthetics are things Jamaicans look to, as for most, it brings hope. If you go into a Portmore home, it doesn't matter how small it is - or somewhere in Clarendon - people are trying to beautify their space. Cost is definitely an issue, however, because my art is produced using a local printer, local framer - it's all local - so it's not cheap," she said.

Lee's art glorifies God

"People don't see the value of buying local unless it relates to their own reality," said local artist Trisha M. Lee. "If I have pictures of Hope Gardens, for instance, a lot of people might have childhood memories of going there, and so when they see the piece, they will be more inclined to purchase it. It's difficult to compete when Jamaicans are stuck on price, so we have to shift the mindset as artists. Think about the value, not only the price, because this is something you will have for a long time."

Lee has, however, taken a different approach to her pieces, noting that she mostly does designs for the home for the glory of God.

"I mostly do stuff for the house. I think it all started as a youngster because my father had a plaque on out veranda which said 'God Bless My Home', and I believe it was something that kept the Christian values in our home. When I grew up and got saved, I wanted the same, which is, for my art to glorify God. So my aim always is to use art as a reminder of the glory of God in each home," she added.