INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Tavongaishe Chikwanda
Johannesburg-based digital creator Tavongaishe Chikwanda (aka Tav.The.Human.Being) talks to VISI about his vivid collages and plans for the future.
How did you initially get into art?
I started with drawings back in 2008 when I was in second grade. I was extremely fascinated with the idea of being able to create something in my head, using crayons, pencils and paper to bring those concepts to life so that others could see them as well. At that age, art was basically like a magical window that I could use to give people a peek into my mental landscape.
What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by the vast aspects that make up life in Africa as a whole, the multitude of cultures that we have, the clothes that we make and wear, the music that we make and listen to, our art, our food, the multitude of languages that we have, and also the social issues that we encounter daily.
What is the process behind the creation of your pieces?
There’s no single formula to my work process. Sometimes, I might see or hear something that might spark an idea in my head. I will then look for the appropriate resources that will aid me in bringing that concept to life. Sometimes, I might have a message that I want to bring across. I will then take photographs or spend days on the internet looking for the perfect photographs and elements that I can then make use of to create my digital collages that bring my narrative across to my audience.
Any local artists who you admire?
I admire and look up to Tinashe Arthur Chikwanda. He’s generally well known for his film and video work, but he also does paintings. I admire the depth and attention to detail in his work and I also love the fact that each piece that he creates always contains a narrative. His work always embodies his beliefs and what he stands for as an individual.
Okmalumkoolkat, who is well known for his music, also makes some digital and physical collages that I admire. I love the playfulness, uniqueness and unprecedented nature of his craft. He’s another person that I admire and have looked up to for a very, very long time.
Describe your work in three words.
Vibrant. Eccentric. Afro-futuristic.
How do you decide on your subject matter?
The essence of my work is deeply rooted in Black empowerment, Black women empowerment, and celebrating and embracing the beauty and strength of people of colour.
I’m always trying to express this in almost every piece that I create. My art seeks to celebrate people of colour and reframe how they view themselves and how they are viewed by society. My work seeks to remind them that they are beautiful, strong and much, much bigger than the boundaries and limitations that the world has set for them.
What are your plans for the future?
Art is what makes my soul smile and brings joy into my life. I just want to continue creating and refining my craft. Hopefully, I’ll also receive the honour of working with some of my role models in the process. I also aspire to one day open a gallery that shares my work and showcases the work of talented upcoming artists of colour that might need assistance with gaining exposure and growing their brands – because I understand the struggle very well and would like to use my platform as a means to help others. I’m also really into fashion so I would like to one day start a clothing line that embodies the mantras of my work.
My parents have always taught me the importance of helping others and I believe that helping others is just God using you to answer someone else’s prayer. So a portion of the proceeds that I will make in future will be donated to kids in need of support – be it kids in orphanages, or those who reside on the streets.
How can people get hold of your work?