Interview with Malawi Batik Artist Ellis Singano

Can you share with readers some of your journey to becoming a professional artist? Was art a passion from the time you were young (if so would love a childhood memory) or did you come to art at an older age?

I started art when I was 14 years. My late father - Ellis - was doing art, so I learned from him. In fact, originally did not want to become an artist. I wanted to become a doctor. 

After the death of my parents in 1998, we had nothing - no support. I started doing art in order to survive. Little by little the passion for art grew and the dream of becoming a doctor faded.

How did you learn the skills necessary to sell your work professionally? Did you have a mentor or someone to teach you? Or are you self-taught?

I have never gone to any school. I learned my skills from my father as well as from several local artists. In Malawi we don’t have any schools that teach art apart from the college. That means a lot of artists are self-taught.

Left - Presenting a batik to Madonna!

Can you remember when you first saw a batik artwork? What do you love most about creating art this way?

My father's batiks were the first I saw. He was very good artist in those years. Later I looked at some West African batiks, but they were not the same style as mine. I created my own, unique style not seen in any country. I really like using bright colours in most of my batiks.

What inspires your artistic creations? Is there one theme that is your favourite to embrace when creating new works

I like African stories and music. My batiks are full of African tales. If not, then they talk about love, unity and music because I believe that these are the things that builds us up and joins us together.

What challenges are unique to working in Malawi - "the warm heart of Africa" ?

Marketing art is a big challenge in Malawi, we don’t have institutions that support art like in West Africa. We also don’t have art markets and art material markets in Malawi.

What would you most like art lovers to know about you and the art you create?

I have been an artist for over 20 years creating batiks that are full of African tales. I am hoping to take my African batiks to the next level and reach more international art lovers. 

I understand you do volunteer work teaching batik to orphans and the deaf in Malawi. Can you share a bit about that?

I started teaching art in 2017 after seeing the great talent these children had, and that they did not have any support. I have a great passion for children, especially the disabled and the orphans. With the little I get through the selling of my artwork, I share with the children by purchasing art materials and arranging transportation. Another reason I do this  - I don’t want to see them in the streets begging. I want them to use what so ever talent they have to bring change. I teach children starting at age 6 at the mountain view school for the deaf which is in Thyolom about 70 km from home and also teach at the Jacaranda school for the orphans which is about 30 km away from my home.

The Wonderful Ellis Singano Batik I Purchased!

In closing, where can those who would love to purchase one of your stunning batiks view the ones you have available for sale, and how can they contact you about purchasing one?

I mostly sell my batiks through Facebook - see links below.

Links -