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South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, “#IKnit”

Upcoming Civil Engineer and creative Busi Shordy Nyembe talks about her trendy fashion brand, #iKnit.

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Image: South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe

Some may think of hand-knitting as a skill or an art which is long outdated. Having learnt the skill from her grandmother, the young and talented creative and upcoming Civil Engineer has modernised the trade, and is making fashionable pieces which appeal to the younger generation.

Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe

There’s so much to say when summarising who I am and what I do… but briefly, I’d say I’m a creative at heart. Born and raised in Orange Farm and 27 years of age, I’m a full time Civil Engineering student at South West Gauteng College, a singer-songwriter, a Craft Designer, a gym fanatic, and an entrepreneur. I believe in dreams, and the sky is the limit.

Living and spending lots of time with my grandmother had me learning to do everything that she would do with her hands. My Gran used to knit duvet covers from wool, and door mats from plastic. As she would knit, I would be right there next to her, learning the craft. I remember when I was in grade 5, we had an Art & Culture project to make something hand-made; I made a colourful beanie and got full marks for it. 

#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

Busi says she hand-knits all her designs, and they are inspired by the current diverse fashion trends, since her clients buy her products and wear them with other clothes that complement them pretty well. ”The patterns of my designs are made with the right size needle, so they come out beautifully. When my clients place an order, they get to be part of the design process. They get to pick their own wool colour which they would love their designs in, and that makes it special enough for them, and they have an input in the creative process. For instance, they can decide if they would like to make the ballet longer, or the socks shorter.” 

I make my designs modern by using modern wool colours and knitting patterns that complement clothes worn in the modern day era. I also do a lot of colourful stripes because they are currently the in-thing. I cater for everybody, both the young and old market, and I also have designs for kiddies.

#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography#IKnit Designs

Growing up in Orange Farm within a close-knit community where almost everyone knows everyone, definitely made it easier for me to get a clientele for my products. When I was starting out the business, the marketing medium was word of mouth, and most of my clients were from Orange Farm, including people that I knew personally. It’s only when I posted on Facebook and other social media platforms that I reached a broader clientele. 

Right now I use all my social media platforms to market my products. That’s where I upload my work and that’s also where my clients post and tag, showing appreciation for my skills. Many other people see the posts, love the products and place their orders. This means of advertising is very effective and my business is definitely profitable, and it is growing rapidly.

#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

Shordy says that she has not always been a patient person, but knitting has taught her to be patient. It has also taught her to be disciplined when it comes to her time management, in order to be able to study and workout. When knitting, a lot of time is spent being seated, facing down and using her hands, so she works out to stretch and relax her muscles. She says that knitting has also taught her to be calm and to respect everybody, because everyone is a potential client. 

As Shordy is the creative brain, I asked her if she has anyone who assists her with the financial side of her business and she responded… “My mother helps me out to manage the business side of the venture and her support is amazing.” Shordy believes that it’s very important for small business owners to do business literacy courses in order to better manage their finances so that they know how to use their finances to manage the growth and sustainability of the business. “Every business has 5-10years to reach their full potential, and not putting money back into the business might paralyze it,” says Nyembe.  

#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

When she starts to produce her products at a larger scale, Shordy says that in order to maintain her standards and personal touch, she aims to continue treating every single order as her only order, and maintain the communication level with her clients so that they still have an input in the making process of their order, and they will still get to pick their favourite wool colour.

Knitting is a special skill which is passed down from generation to generation, and Shordy has already begun the process of teaching the skill to two young people in order to keep the craft alive.

#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

In parting, Shordy advises young people who would love to learn a craft and make a living out of it to follow their hearts, because people will pull them astray. The most important thing, she says, is to start! “Stop over-planning and just start, you will learn everything else as you go along,” says Nyembe.

Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe

Connect with Shordy through her page on Facebook, @ShordyNyembe.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Kumi Samuel – Sculpture Made in Ghana

My biggest achievement since I started art is the fact that I have been able to stay in the field of sculpting despite all the challenges I have encountered.

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Kumi Samuel's sculpture of the late Jerry Rawlings, former President of Ghana

When they moved to a village where there was a riverbank nearby, Kumi’s parents noticed from a very early age that he was very good at moulding faces with mud; and thus began the journey of them supporting their son to achieve his dream of becoming a world-renowned sculptor. Born in 1983 and residing in Kumasi, Ghana, read on to find out more about this amazing and talented artist who creates life-size and ‘life-like’ sculptures.

Image: Kumi Samuel

Like any child, you started playing with mud when you were about five years old, creating shapes and human heads. From then on you went on to study art at high school. What is it about art and sculpting which you enjoyed so much from such an early age, and when did you realise that you are actually really good at art?

Modelling, which involves the addition of clay to create form, has been one aspect of sculpture that I enjoyed right from an early age. During that time, I would sculpt pestles, mortars, heads, and other similar things with mud. I realised that I have such a creative talent when I modelled my first bust of someone, which moved my father to showcase it to his friends in our village.

Image: Kumi Samuel

Your parents realised your talent and allowed you to pursue your dream of studying art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. What qualification did you embark on at the university, and how many years was the programme?

When I had the opportunity to study in K.N.U.S.T, I specialised in sculpture and improved on my modelling skills and more also on finishing modelling works for four (4) years.

Image: Kumi Samuel

What was your area of specialisation during your course?

I settled mostly on figurative figures, purely African figures.

What mantra do you live by as an artist?

I am of the opinion that “Things that remain to remind man of what is lost, are equally important.”

After graduating in 2011, you have been working as an artist at your studio, mostly doing commissioned work. How has that been going, and are the returns good enough for you to earn a living from?

Yes, it is these commissions that keep us on our feet to survive and also gain from the talent we have. So I am able to make a living from it, absolutely.

When and how did your work start to get recognition on social media, and before social media, how were you marketing your work?

My work started gaining recognition when I started portraying African figures in 2012. But in 2017 on my Facebook page, ‘Sculpture Made in Ghana’, I posted an African woman with a pot which went viral with comments coming from people all around the globe. I think that gave me recognition on most social media platforms. Before social media, I was marketing through direct contact with various companies and hotels.

You have done some commissioned work of some notable figures, such as the late Jerry Rawlings and the late George Floyd. How was the response from their families, and what gives you satisfaction after completing a piece?

Their feedback was simply fantastic. It was such a heartwarming and overwhelming response, especially from George Floyd’s family, since the work was fully finished and presented. With this recent work-in-progress of the late Rawlings, the response coming in now is very encouraging, so when it is finished too I’m pretty sure the response will be fantastic as well.

Image: Kumi Samuel

How big was the largest piece you have worked on, and how many days did it take you to complete it?

The largest piece I’ve worked on was a 26 feet by 44 feet mural at KOFCANS Hotel in Obuasi (Ghana), which took me almost 6 to 7 months to finish.

Image: Kumi Samuel

What are your biggest achievements since you started working as an artist?

My biggest achievement since I started art is the fact that I have been able to stay in the field of sculpting despite all the challenges I have encountered. Today I look back and I am proud of how far I have come, and all glory goes to the Almighty God.

What obstacles do you face in your trade, and how do you overcome them?

Pricing of sculpture works here is quite challenging since a lot of people don’t know the materials used in finishing, but we try overcoming such challenges by producing quality works and educating clients on the type of materials used and their durability.

Besides patience, what other virtues has your trade taught you?

Sculpting has made me efficient at meeting deadlines; I may rate myself from 85 to 100 percent successful in that department.

Image: Kumi Samuel

What advice would you give to a young African who would also like to become as amazing as you are at sculpting?

They should practice always, be hard-working, and make consistency and determination their key goals, because that is surely what is going to make you a good sculptor.

Check out more of Kumi’s amazing work on his Facebook page, Sculpture Made in Ghana.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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A Chat With Zimbabwean Street Artist, Terrance Mutemaringa

I consider myself a street artist who is not afraid to use classical methods as well to create the perfect work of art.

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Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art, Portrait of Zimbabwean Musician, Jah Prayzah

Hailing from Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, Terrance Tongai Mutemaringa never thought of art as something he would come to love. It is during his Primary education at Dudley Hall where he found his love for art through fellow artists who taught Mutemaringa the basics. Mutemaringa, popularly known as Mwanakomana, is a perfect example of surprising yourself, and seeing an unexpected road through.

“For me, art is a passion that has turned into a side-hustle.”

Image: Terrance Mutemaringa

How long have you been drawing?

I’ve been drawing since 2002, with my first actual masterpiece being in 2014 of the famous Che Guevara.

What kind of art do you specialise in?

I specialise in Graphite pencil drawings and silhouette art, but recently, I have been introduced to acrylic painting by Martin Gruber who is supported by the Austrian embassy.

Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art, Portrait of Zimbabwean music sensation, Winky D.

Were you trained in any way?

I never did art as a subject, but I stumbled upon individuals who taught me the various aspects of art, and I went from there. 

Are there any people in particular who were instrumental in your artistic journey thus far?

Special thanks to Gilbert Magugu for teaching me the basics of graphite sketching, Godknows Nemhara for teaching me how to shade, and of course my dad for supporting the talent financially – he purchased my first graphite pencil and drawing pad.

Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art, Portrait of the late great Zimbabwean Musician Oliver Mtukudzi

Would you consider yourself a classic artist or a street artist?

I consider myself a street artist who is not afraid to use classical methods as well to create the perfect work of art.

Is art a passion or hustle for you?

For me, art is a passion that has turned into a side-hustle. Shout out to Dave Gumbo, who was the first person ever to pay for my art back in 2017. His purchase made me realise that art can be a source of income.

Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art

In a perfect world, what work would you be doing?

In a perfect world, alongside my profession, Human Resource Management, I’d be doing the same art, but earning more money from it.

Considering how you got into art, have you ever had any issues with trained artists making you feel like you are not a real artist? 

The only issue I’ve had with trained artists is the one Picasso had, that of having limited imagination because of strict adherence to ancient norms and rules prescribed in the literature they use at whatever art college they attended. 

Do you strictly do portraits?

I’m good at portraits using graphite pencils on paper, acrylic paintings, and oil paint on canvas. But as an artist, I’m obligated to explore my imagination, and strive to be more creative than yesterday.

Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art
Image: Terrance Mutemaringa Art

How do people find you?

People can call or Whatsapp me on +263 713 501 506, on Twitter @Mwanakomana3, and on Instagram @mwanakomana.zw

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

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Oyedele Abiodun – Nigeria’s Master of Fine Art

His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.

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Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art

“I paint what I see… by arranging colours side by side to form a unified whole; to enjoy the obvious that may be consciously hidden or otherwise. As perceived, light is the key that traverse in my paintings, unveiling the beauty of nature and its components in their various values. The world as represented by our environment, is beautiful to be a unique subject matter. ”                                         

Oyedele abiodun’s artist statement
Oyedele Abiodun Fine Art:
On The Look Out, Oil on canvas, 90 x 90cm, 2019

Born in 1991, Oyedele Abiodun Oyewumi, from Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria, is a master of fine art whose talent is unmatched. Having discovered his love for Art in high school, and even as a sciences student doing maths, physics, chemistry, etc., the kind and bubbly artist went on to studied fine art at university. Fascinated by the happenings in his environment from his teenage years, his decision to pursue art as a profession was inspired simply by his love and passion for Art. His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.   

On Her Mind, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

When asked if he is happy with the choice that he made of not pursuing a career in Sciences and following his heart to do Art, Oyedele said he is absolutely happy with his decision, and even more so because his parents support him completely, in all ways, and they never judged him or put pressure on him to do so called “stable careers” in the sciences sector, but instead, they encouraged him to follow his heart and do what he loved and enjoyed.

Behind Her Smile, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

Oyedele graduated from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, in 2015 with a Second-Class Upper Degree in Fine and Applied Arts and a concentration in painting. He majored in Painting and minored in sculpture. Says Oyedele, “I believe Art and science goes hand in hand, in terms of material used for the creation of art, the form of Art, and the process. Science and technology give me more understanding about how art materials are made at the factory, and how they can be improvised and produced locally. For example, one would ask, “How can we make the process of creating an art piece faster, durable and efficient?” Technology has been able to answer these questions.”

Her Livelihood, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

After graduating from LAUTECH, Oyedele went on to do a year of National Service, which is compulsory in Nigeria. He served in a village called Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area, Kastina State, Nigeria, as a class teacher in a public Secondary School. “The experience was a great one”, says Oyedele, and he was able to impact and inspire the young ones positively. He also enjoyed meeting people from a different state, who have different cultures and a different identity altogether.

Hope, 90cm x 60cm, Oil on Canvas, 2019

Upon completion of his National Service, Oyedele taught Fine Art at Gomal Baptist College for a year. His focus was to help the young ones foster the same enthusiasm he has for Art. “What excited me most was the passion my students have for Art; this was expressed through their willingness to come to my office for additional drawing class during their spare time. It was a great experience.”

Her Voice, Her Strength, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 75cm, 2019

Currently, the fine art creative is actually pursuing a Master’s Degree in Technology in Painting (M.Tech.) at LAUTECH, whereupon on completion, he will emerge a true “Master of Fine Art”. M.Tech is equivalent to Master of Fine Art (M.F.A.), and it holds the same qualification advantages as the M. F. A.

Oyedele says he markets his art personally via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and an online art gallery. Says Oyedele, “The advent of online art marketing has been a great help to the emerging artists to share their work to the rest of the world. Ultimately, it has been a real lifesaver.”

The Making Of Beauty II, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 60cm, 2019

What he enjoys the most about being an artist is the feeling of being at peace, and the sense of fulfillment whenever he finishes a piece. According to Oyedele, one of his biggest achievements as a professional artist was having one of his pieces titled ‘Catch Them Young’, recently selected for the global conversation exhibition UN75, 2020) by the United Nations. “It was a great honor”, says the artist. He has also taken part in some exhibitions, including ‘The Other Side’ (Alliance Francaise, Ibadan, 2019), ‘Broken Earth’ (Nexus Exchange Nigeria, Lagos, 2019), and an international group exhibition, ‘Seen Form’ (HYB4 Galarie, Prague, 2020).

According to Abiodun, obstacles faced as an artist in his state and in Nigeria wholly, include low patronage and very few opportunities for emerging artists. “It is very difficult financially, because you don’t always sell a piece every day”. He thinks that to address these obstacles, provision of more funds to the Art sector can be looked into, and more opportunities can be created and availed to upcoming artists.

Catch Them Young, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

His parting words to a young artist who would like to study art professionally but is being discouraged by family or society are, “Do what you like doing, follow your heart, don’t give up. Consistency is the key, keep at it.”

Connect with Oyedele:

oyedeleabiodun@gmail.com

www.instagram.com/oyedeleabiodunfineart

www.facebook.com/oyedeleabiodunoyewumi

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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