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Ntsako Terence Maluleke aka Tako Universe | Creative Nestlings
| Dillion Phiri | 10 January, 2017

Ntsako Terence Maluleke aka Tako Universe

We chat to 21-year-old digital artist and animator, Tako Universe from Johannesburg.

Creative Nestlings: So please introduce yourself to the world.

Ntsako Terence Maluleke: S’up I am Ntsako Terence Maluleke I go as Tako Universe on the Internet. I am a 21-year-old digital artist and animator from Johannesburg.

CN: So how did you decide to get into the animation and digital art world?

NTM: Well art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I had a teacher in primary school who encouraged me to go to art school, and so I did. I went to The National School of the Arts; my parents were skeptical about me pursuing a career in the arts,  but I was so confident in my decision that they had no choice but to support me. At NSA I was introduced to different digital software which expanded my knowledge on digital art.

CN: How did you convince your parents, as you know many parents do not believe it a wise choice to go into the arts industry?

NTM: Well, I prepared an Excel Presentation for them lol I’m kidding. I was just confident.  There is a reason why parents sort of discourage their children to pursue a career in the Arts; firstly our parents were not born in a world where dreams came true man, as harsh as it may sound it is true. Already there is a difference in our ideologies and that is why it is important for young artists to do intensive research on their career paths and then make their decision. Though It is always wise for a parent to encourage their children in careers that are known to be sustainable but also not to discourage their creativity.

CN: True our parents need to be convinced and only through research can we give them the right info. After school the world is different. How has what you learned prepared you for the working world?

NTM: Yeah, just communicate with your parents and make them understand.  Well, the Animation School has made me more professional, it has made me respect every department in the production pipeline; from storyboards and animatic in the preproduction to texturing and animation in productions to compositing in post-production. It’s all about teamwork.

CN: Great, since it’s about teamwork, how have you maintained a collaborative spirit after NSA, and who have you worked with?

NTM: I’ve worked with Photographer Kevin Radebe on a project where we combine illustration and photography. It was pretty fun and can’t wait to show the world what we’ve been working on. I’ve also worked with Roundafire on a children’s book. See collaboration allows you to expand to different mediums and widens your audience; I mean as artists we need each other. We offer different skills and we learn from each other. You would probably know more about collaboration at a larger scale than I do and maybe I can learn a thing or two from you.

CN: Collaboration is key; the smaller ones are the most fun. Talk to me about your digital illustrations, what inspired your style and have you found your signature?

NTM: People inspire my work, their different ethnic groups, and cultures. I try to capture their spirit in my work. I think I’ve found comfortable drawing styles, but I have to move out of my comfort zone and explore more ways of making art. It’s a journey that never stops!

CN: How important is collaboration in your work?

NTM: It is good for me; It gets me out of my comfort zone at times and I am able to just explore different mediums that I can incorporate into my work to make it more unique.

CN: Great, love your work. If I am not mistaken, your work has a Japanese influence to it. Did you grow up with Manga or Anime influences?

NTM: No, not at all. I’m not a big fan of anime, I mean I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki and Akira Yasuda’s work both on different mediums. I was mostly influenced by our local comics like Super Strikers because that’s what I had access to.

CN: Dope. What stories are you looking to tell in your work?

NTM: Well I want to tell my story. I want to tell the story of a proud African. I want my art to compliment and shine a light on us Africans. I’m currently Reading a book called ‘What sunny saw in the flames’ by Author Nnedi Okorafor. She is inspiring in her book; she challenges the theme of Identity and that as Africans it is important to know our roots.

CN: What does a “proud African” look like to you?

NTM: A proud African is someone who will never forget or neglect his/her roots. Someone who embraces the beauty of being an African.That is a proud African!

CN: What do you think is missing in the African landscape for young creatives like yourself?

NTM: What I think is lacking for young black creatives, is the opportunity to further their studies in this creative field. Information is key and if you are deprived of it, you are then limited. Collaboration is the best way to get things done. As we spoke earlier I felt this is important. It is lacking in the African landscape. Also, as young artists, we have to tell our own stories. No one can tell our stories better than we can. Dream bigger.

CN: Interesting. Creative education seems to be lacking. How do you think we can improve creative education?

NTM: I do not think that creative education is lacking, I just feel that the educational institution and businesses in our industry need to reach out to underprivileged people and expose them to new opportunities in the creative field.

CN: What role has the internet played in you getting your work out there?

NTM: The internet has helped me find people who share the same interest as I do. Which has really kept me going. It has also helped create chances for collaboration; which has widened my skill range.

CN: What is creativity to you?

NTM: Creativity, to me, is simply to create. We are all different and therefore what we create is unique. Trying to be unique is paradoxical. Just create.


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