Painters, crafters, musicians, writers and other types of artists usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to things like job security, especially during a worldwide pandemic. Nini Marini—who had left a career in corporate media to pursue the art world full-time—is one of the many Malaysian artists who’ve been affected by the stricter regulations during the Movement Control Order, as she often depended on teaching art in classes for a living.
A popular figure in Malaysia’s arts scene, Nini Marini has created artworks in a variety of mediums, including ceramics, textiles, metals and even artificial intelligence. Now, Nini is sharing her knowledge through Airbnb’s Online Experience, which is taking place twice a week, teaching guests how to weave using t-shirts. She is also the first Malaysia-based Online Experience Host.
“I found the opportunity to take a break and really learn how to teach people, because for me, teaching people online is so different from physical teaching. I used to have my own workshop so it’s easy for me to go ‘Don’t do that like this’… With online, you need to know how to describe things and you need to show things and break down steps so that people don’t get confused,” said Nini.
Nini’s Weaving with Tees Experience
I had the opportunity to learn how to weave with t shirts through her Airbnb class. The 2 hour class flew by really fast and she taught me how to make a coaster with bits of old t-shirt (although my own ‘coaster’ seemed more like a cup of sorts because I put too much tension in the middle).
I’m definitely going to re-do mine at some point, now that I know how to do them.
Nini’s advice to other artists
When I asked Nini for some tips for other fellow local artists who are going through a tough time during the COVID-19 pandemic, she notes that having a schedule and making things with your hands can give you time to brainstorm what you can do next.
“Remaining positive… I know people might think it’s new age but I believe this so strongly. If you project that sort of energy into the universe and you start maintaining that positivity, you attract new opportunities,” she said.
She also talked about how her other friends in the creative industry had to learnt to adapt to the changes, by pivoting to do different things. For example, people in the events industry switched overnight to produce sanitary kits and creative campaigns for brands instead.
“They had to upscale, relearn… my advise is to go online, take a couple of classes, learn that thing you’ve always wanted to learn, and see where that takes you,” said Nini.
What else can you do?
While it is easier said than done, there can be plenty of resources online that you can take advantage of as artists. Platforms like Patreon, Mystartr, and Pitchin can help get funds for your art from crowd-sourcing.
If you’re a designer, illustrator, or graphic artist, sites like Redbubble can help sell your artwork on things like t-shirts, pillows and even face masks. You don’t even need to produce the items for people to buy, you’ll just need to upload your artwork and get the commission whenever someone in the world buys your art.
Malaysian Cultural Economy Development Agency (CENDANA) even has funding for the local art scene. They have funds for music, visual arts, theatre, art spaces, and many others. Their goal is to help stabilise the local art sector—especially during the pandemic.
And if you’re interested in in hosting on Airbnb, please visit airbnb.com/onlinehost. You can click through here to look through the other Online Experiences from other parts of the world, click here to book Nini’s experience, and even click here to read my own experience with a few of them.