He was one of the first people to speak at our #ConversationsOnCreativity event series. This is a chat that has been happening offline but has finally materialised into an interview we can share with you.
CN: What are your main sources of inspiration?
Loyiso Mkize: It’s an array of things really. Could be a good piece of music, a great mural I see on the street, an inspiring paragraph from a book I’m reading, an interesting conversation. So my inspiration is hardly isolated to the visual arts realm. It’s far vaster than that. A composite of acquired experience maybe. These all inform my approach to my work. The visual aspect of the work is simply a result of what I feel passionate about. Hence the very nature of my work I guess.
What’s your typical day like?
Loyiso Mkize: Well I still hold down a 9 – 5 so I illustrate the Supa Strikas comic book during the day then mission back home. From around 8pm I’ll paint. These days are a bit more dynamic with meeting clients, collectors, buyers etc. But the typical day still is essentially hours of graft till about 2am in the morning
CN: How does your work for Supa Strikas influence your personal work and vice versa?
Loyiso Mkize: Well there’s a great balance there. A sort of duality that keeps me sane I suppose. Growing up I wanted to be a great comic book artist. I would read superhero comic books and create comic books of my own. I learned how to draw from this. In as much as I was born with artistic ability, cartoons and comic book introduced me to what I could do. As a result I joined Strika entertainment in my second year in varsity, illustrating the Supa Strika weekly comic book part time. It was only later in my life, literally a couple of years ago, that I had an interest in painting. It’s something new could be from previous random occurrences but as soon as I did an oil portrait painting, all the pieces fell together. This new energy of depicting people with paint using a very classical approach sparked a flame in the more matured me. It was aligned well with my own personal convictions and till now chronicles the ideas and views I have of the world.
In a nut shell comic book illustration serves the little kid inside me who dreams about super hero and fantastic worlds. Painting represents the man I am today, who I am and what I have to say. Perhaps soon these two will find the ultimate balance where one informs the other more clearly.
CN: You are an ambassador/collaborator with Knights Whisky, how did that come about & why?
Loyiso Mkize: Well the company handling the communications and advertising for the Knights Whisky brand approached me as a result of chance, stroke of good luck and my work. They had just thought through a new campaign for the brand embracing young South African authentics doing well in their respected fields. They saw my work online and what I had done and achieved. Next thing you know I get a call from them with the idea of being the first authentic South African to showcase in the ad campaign. This is great because it gave visual art/ painting a platform beyond the art gallery. Also the inspiration it gave fellow artists and aspiring artists simply made it that much more special.
CN: Wicked. You did an ad with them, what was the experience like?
Loyiso Mkize: We shot over a span of two days. They flew in a guy from Brussels to shoot the ad. I like the fact that they treated my story with such integrity. It really is a representation of who I am and what I do, most importantly why I do it. I mean the location shots were relevant from my years using the train and being inspired by that environment to back at my aunt’s place who I visit on a regular for family time. Woodstock as a backdrop to my everyday was spot on because I work in Woodstock. It was a lot of work and plenty of hours of takes. But at the end it truly resembled a labour of love.
CN: Then u did you first solo exhibition in JHB – How was the experience?
Loyiso Mkize: It was a true portrayal of just how amazing the rewards of ones efforts can be. I had worked 6 months on a project that I felt so strongly about. That entire journey had taken me to my limits and stretched my mindset, my understanding, my imagination. I literally disappeared into a different world during that time. As the days drew closer everything else fell into place. I got a gallery to show my work courtesy of fellow artist Yiull Damaso, I literally hired a panel van loaded my artworks and drove all the way to Johannesburg. Before this I had never been there, so all of this was quite surreal. I was determined to do the work I did justice. I got there, met Yiull and spent a week touching up and mastering the work. By the time of the opening I was drained. But again as I said it all fell into place. Excellent audience turnout, remarkable reviews. It was done. Next day my show was covered on page 3 of the Star newspaper. The show was a success built solely on blind ambition I must say. A total risk. It is truly my biggest milestone so far in my career.
CN: Amazing, how has your family received your success as a creative?
Loyiso Mkize: Well I’m lucky to be in a family that thought nothing but the best of my talents from day one. In fact a lot of what I’m able to do is because of the efforts my parents in particular made to support my love for art. So today it’s a mutual victory both to me and my family.
CN: Your thoughts on Cape Town’s creative industry?
Loyiso Mkize: It’s cool. I just wish it was more dynamic. There’s a definite clique or communal idea of what great design is or what constitutes true creativity. The culture itself needs a bit more vitality in my opinion. But alas in a world where your creative value is measured on which institution u went to and now which media hub/house u work for, very little space is created for the outliers, the trendsetters. We need more brave , young trendsetters. We need a stronger black presence etc.
You were part of our first “Conversations On Creativity” event, what was that like for you?
Loyiso Mkize: The talk was great. Every now and then we need time away from our little studios and into nourishing spaces. Being around like minded people who also have their own journeys to share is always eye opening. As a platform its’ great that I could speak about what I do and why I do it. When I speak on my work I’m always faced with the challenge of articulating a process which is a wonder and a mystery even to me. Because so much of what I do is felt. The atmosphere around the time I do a piece for instance… the subtle influences that can completely change an artwork etc. Personally it was a chance for me to empower the visual arts with my presence. I have a deep longing to make this part of the arts far more than what it is. To break the boundaries of current structures. So to have my contribution as something worth sharing and conversing on… the talk was a great step in that direction.
CN: What is creativity?
Loyiso Mkize: Creativity is the mysteriously illusive and fascinating human capacity to conceive ideas and create from our minds into reality.