Digital painter uses people power to grow business

A chance encounter with a Ghanaian actress changed one jobless digital artist’s passion for creating, into a full-time job. His name is Danny Arthur-Baidoo and hers Ama K Abebrese – best known for her award-winning performance in the Sinking Sands. Danny was doing his National Service (work experience required of all students in Ghana after tertiary education) back in 2015 and took a break to visit his home town of Takoradi where he randomly saw Ama K buying waakye in the market.

Ama K Abebrese and Danny Arthurz-Baidoo © Danny Arthurz Creative Empire

“I wasn’t 100% sure that it was her but decided to take a video anyway and showed it to my friend,” he told MisBeee Writes. “At the time, I had started creating some digital paintings and it was my friend who suggested that I create a digital portrait of Ama K and tag her on social media to see if she would share it.

President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo receives his portrait from Danny © Danny Arthurz Creative Empire

“I was also under the mentorship of transformational speaker and business consultant Oscar Bimpong, who advised me that instead of just painting the portrait and tagging her, I should frame it and give it to her personally,” he said.

Danny did just that. He connected with former MyJoyonline journalist Maximus Attah to track Ama K down and when he made contact, insisted that they meet in person for him to hand the painting to her personally. Not only did Danny get to meet the award-winning actress at Atlantic Hotel in Takoradi, he also got some treasured photo memories as well. Ama K agreed to share the posts, which included Danny’s contact details, on Facebook and Instagram and the posts went viral.

Celebrities and social media

Danny Arthurz-Baidoo and Eddie Nartey © Danny Arthurz Creative Empire

“I had a lot of people calling me up asking me how much I charged after Ama K’s help,” said Danny. “At the time, I didn’t even have a price list but had to quickly put one together. That’s really when I saw my business move to another level.”

Other celebrities, such as film director Eddie Nartey, messaged him requesting a portrait and to date, Danny has delivered portraits to broadcaster Benny Blanco, actor and presenter Nana Ama McBrown, gospel artists such as Nathaniel Bassey. In all his interactions with celebrities he paints, Danny asks them to share his contact details and asks them to share a picture of them with their new painting.

He has painted a litany of religious figures including Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and Dr Frank Ofosu Appiah and when it comes to Ghana’s presidents, the list includes paintings of former presidents Osagefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Flight Lieutenant Jerry J Rawlings, John Dramani Mahama and current president Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo and his wife Rebecca.

“Actually Rawlings’ portrait was the first painting I ever did back in 2014,” said Danny. “I was using a different technique of digital painting then, and the results of the painting motivated me to do more and share them on Facebook.

Past President Jerry J Rawlings with Danny © Danny Arthurz Creative Empire

“During one of my exhibitions at A&C Mall, Legon in 2016, I met Metro TV presenter Jackie Naa Adukwei who saw the image and sent it to Rawlings. As a result of that, I was invited to his house later that year and, along with Jackie, presented the work to him.”

It turns out that Rawlings is a bit of an artist too and is pretty good at sketching human figures, according to Danny.

“I spent about two hours talking to him at his home about my art and he showed me some of his sketches. They were really good. He said he’d invite me one day to show him how I create my pieces,” Danny said.

Honing skills

Capturing the essence of family in his  portraits © Danny Arthurz Creative Empire

When it comes to honing his craft, Danny is a stickler for perfection. He painted over 1000 portraits to date, with half of those created in 2018. Danny clearly has a knack for capturing the personalities of his muses in his digital brush strokes. He pays special attention to his peers, looking at their technique to see if he can master it or improve on their technique.

“I am a graphic designer by profession but like to learn from those that use the traditional mode of drawing and painting. There are a lot of digital painters in Ghana and for the most part some the work looks like it has been digitally crafted. With my work, my aim is to capture the features of traditional painting but using digital technology.”

So far so good as it seems Danny’s customer base is growing. He now boasts about 3,000 customers on his Whatsapp and sells across Ghana, and internationally in the United States, UK and Italy. But as with other creatives before him, being able to balance the passion for creating with the need to have a business head and make money has been a challenge. He is a big believer in working within your means and started out with only Ghc 60 to produce his first portrait. “Once the customer paid me, I reinvested the money towards producing more portraits,” he said.

Read: Made in Ghana: The Art of Promoting Home-grown Talent

Danny has been featured in print publications including B&Ft, Modern Ghana and the Voice as well as on Ghana TV on GBC News

He is also cautious about who he partners with and although he has been approached by companies willing to invest in him and his business, it has been on the agreement that he drops his brand name Danny Arthurzz Creative Empire.

“That is the reputation I have built over the years and what people know me as, so this was not something I could agree on,” Danny said.

For now, Danny works alone, creating all these paintings but he has formed valuable partnerships with other companies that print, frame and dispatch his work to customers.

His ability to network in person and harness the influence of celebrities to promote his work has generated lots of organic referrals for him. Social media has clearly been a driving force behind his success. His target market tends to be found on Facebook but increasingly his work is becoming noticed on Instagram because of the visual nature of the platform. As a result, he tends to post on social media three or four times a week and backs that up with regular interaction with his customer base.

Read: Ghanaian Illustrators Test Boundaries in Contemporary Art 

Danny Arthurz-Baidoo showcases his work at the Global Ambassador Production (GAP-HUZ) fashion show © Danny Arthurzz Creative Empire

His work tends to be bought by Ghanaians that want to surprise a loved one. Prices are on a sliding scale but start from Ghc 150 for framed portraits, and Ghc 250 for canvas portraits. It is through this that he has been able to generate enough capital to move his workspace and home from Takoradi to Accra. In the next five years, Danny wants to become a household name and extend his reach wider to the rest of the world.

His advice to entrepreneurs starting out is simple. “I remember watching this Indian film called the Three Idiots and in it one of the characters said that if you have a talent, you have to develop it so it becomes your profession. I believe in that strongly and am living that reality with Danny Arthurzz Creative Empire!”

To learn more about Danny’s work, connect with him on:

 http://www.daceartstudio.com, Instagram @danny_arthurzz and +233(0)273141017

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