With a compelling understanding of African cultures, Thabiso Mbambo channels his love of African cultures through digital art. He has managed to narrate his contemporary Afro-punk inspired series with an outstanding visual appeal. This is the interview with the artist himself.
1. Who are you and where are you from and currently based?
I’m Thabiso, 25 years old born and raised in Umlazi Township ‘dude’ who works as a graphic designer/ illustrator at Born and Bred, a ‘neat’ company in the heart of Durban.
2. When did you start having an interest in digital art?
I feel like digital art to me became an experimental tool or medium to take my abilities further. I am a traditional artist at heart and I much rather preferred using traditional mediums. It’s not until a graphic design project back in university that required us to mimic a digital artist’s style. I really took interest in that especially in challenging myself to do certain illustration styles. Since then I alternate between traditional and digital art, depending on how I want to execute a certain idea.
3. Who/What inspires your creative process?
I am inspired by a lot actually, not limited to graphic designers, however creatives as a whole. I am inspired by artists such as Loyiso Mkize with his hyper-realistic paintings and comic book. As well as Nelson Makamo, Ben Bond, Osborne Macharia, Karabo Moletsane, the list is endless. In summary, I’m inspired by African artists whose work speaks of an African narrative. I’m inspired by African culture, beadwork and traditional attire. Ultimately this is where my creative process stems from.
4. What are some of the challenges you face being a young creative in South Africa?
Some of the challenges for me is sometimes not being taken seriously as an artist, as though it’s more of a hobby than a profession.
7. What are the kinds of companies or brands/established creatives you would like to work in the future?
I would love to work with a lot of illustrators actually, or rather learn from them and their journeys. Artists such as Wesley Van Eeden (Resoborg), an interesting Durban-based illustrator, also Loyiso Mkize, Karabo Moletsane, Lazi Mathebula (Greiispaces) and more.
5. What kind of impact would you like to leave in South Africa with your talents?
That would be inspiring the youth, especially black kids from the township with similar gifts as mine.
6. How do you think the internet has helped in terms of making your work known?
The internet is probably the most convenient exhibition space to use as a gallery for your work. Your work is virtually accessible from all over the world, so people have got to see some of my work, even as far as getting a feature on AfroPunk.
Art is Africa has grown much in digital media, it was inevitably so considering the growing use of the internet. Many artists like Thabiso have made use of social media to reach their audience, internationally. Such young Africans continue to redefine the continent and how it competes internationally.