12th February 2021

After having spent almost a month and a half working for the Living Artists Emporium in the Johannesburg Central Business District, I feel no farther along than I did six weeks ago.

Perhaps this lack of accomplishment can be pinned down to the tediousness that slow/spotty WiFi creates, compounded with a continuous string of electrical blackouts. My assigned task for this period has been to upgrade the website for LAE and streamline their online webshop. One can imagine the difficulty this then poses in having a normal work-day, considering ‘your whole life is online’ but at times it is inaccessible.

It has proved necessary for LAE to focus their efforts on their website due to the barriers corona has put on the traditional art market. In-person viewings are few and far between. This poses an additional challenge to LAE whose charm lies in the accessibility of artists. This is due to the fact that most of the LAE artists find community at the Ellis Park Tennis Club (the ‘hub’ of LAE) as there is a combination of friendship, teamwork and creativity to be found. There are a few core individuals who come to LAE every day, early ’til late, to work on commissions and personal projects. However, that does not mean that the other artists are uninterested, per se, as there can be challenges in just coming to work – for example, a lack of transport.

Integrating into the company has taken far longer than I had imagined it would. Factors such as class, race and most especially gender, stand in between myself and the staff. This, in turn, has put limitations on my research as I do not feel like I am in social standing with my coworkers. Furthermore, there is a lack of structure in the working patterns of the artists. Therefore, forward-planning can be difficult at times.

That being said, this experience is proving to be invaluable for my career. The opportunity to better understand how to operate programs such as WordPress and Art Placer will provide added value to my CV. The company is intimitae, therefore affording me the opportunity to have the most hands-on experience I have had to date. The company is run solely by my boss, Eric Botha, and I am the only aid he has for running the business-side of the company.

Perhaps I need to re-examine my work ethic in order to better fit into laid-back approaches to business. However, the true challenge lies in mediating an alternate approach with the aims for this internship period.

More to follow.

Artist: Teboho Makoatsa