TIRUNELVELI: Gone are the days when elections filled the lives of wallpainting artists with colour. With flex boards and banners taking the place of traditional wall paintings, the lives of artists have also changed, for the worse. Now, they stare at a bleak future and find it difficult to make ends meet.
Earlier, soon after the announcement of the election dates, artists would make a beeline for rural areas, to splash colour on walls, painting symbols of political parties and pictures of leaders. Sources said many wallpainting artists have now taken up other jobs to sustain their families.
They said the number of members in the district chapter of the Tamil Nadu Artists Association, which takes orders on contract to draw for various parties, has dwindled from 30 in 2016, to 15. Due to the low demand, artists have also reduced the cost of painting party symbols, from Rs 70 in 2016, to Rs 50 now.
“The rate for painting words has also been reduced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 800,” they said. Speaking to TNIE, Vijayakumar (68), an artist in Ambasamudram constituency said, “I have been in the profession of wall-painting since 1967 when I was 13. At that time, we artists earned Rs 30 for each painting, which is equivalent to Rs 1,000 now. I have drawn pictures of many leaders, including Karunanidhi and MG Ramachandran.
However, these days, we do not get many orders. Plus, we are asked to reduce our rates as our paintings could be replaced by lowcost posters, banners and flex boards.” Another artist, Kavithai Rasu (55), from Nanguneri, who has 34 years of experience, added that nowadays, their works of art don’t get much respect from the public.