SOUTH AFRICAN ARTISTIC FORCE, DAVID TSHABALALA, SPOKE TO InFlight ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCES IN THE CREATIVE WORLD, HOW HE BECAME AN ENTREPRENEUR, AND WHAT HE DOES WHEN HE AND THE MUSE AREN’T GETTING ALONG.
Illustrator, designer, and entrepreneur, David Tshabalala, has had a stellar career thus far. From being selected as one of the 200 Top Young South Africans by The Mail and Guardian in 2015 to starting his own business, Suketchi, he is certainly climbing the creative ladder at a rate of knots.
When the time came to choose a career path, his love of both art and technology made graphic design the ideal choice of study. Since then,Tshabalala’s skill and impeccable eye have seen him selected to be an Emerging Creative at the 2013 Design Indaba, and to collaborate with brands including Trace, Cadbury, BlackBerry, Elle magazine, and Coca-Cola.
KEEPING IT COOL
When asked to choose a word to describe himself,Tshabalala says: “Cool. I think this word epitomises all my work, and I’m constantly trying to produce work that stands the test of time, but also resonates with everyone who has a good eye for aesthetics.
“I love inspiring other creatives and collaborating with brands that I love. I also love the idea of creating something from scratch and seeing it come to life,” he says.
Of the brands he’s worked with, his campaign with BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) stands out as one of his favourite projects.“With the Stickathon challenge, I had the opportunity to create the logo for this campaign, and I also loved creating some of the artwork that pushed other designers to take part as well. It was the first time I was really used as an influencer.”
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS
Nowadays, one of Tshabalala’s main projects is his own entrepreneurial venture, Suketchi. The Johannesburg-based design agency is all about futureforward graphic design, product and lifestyle ranges, media, arts, and events.
Tshabalala got started on the entrepreneurship road at Johannesburg-based marketing agency and creative collective SoulProviders. “There, I was given an opportunity to learn and run my own company within their premises, without worrying about overheads.This also gave me an opportunity to tap into day-to-day scenarios about how a company runs. I also serviced SoulProviders as my client during this time. I partnered up with my former boss, SJ Boden, who is my mentor. We now have our own physical space – and not too far from SoulProviders!”
Never one to sit still,Tshabalala has other projects on the go, such as collaborating with a major clothing brand on a range of T-shirts, as well as planning an exhibition of his work later this year.
PLAYING THE MUSE
The creative muse comes to Tshabalala in many forms, from other artists to stories.“I’m inspired by other creatives from all walks of life, and I leverage off the beautiful stories that others tell, sometimes without saying a word. I’m also inspired by our country and all its events – good and bad.”
However, there are times when Tshabalala and the creative muse doesn’t communicate well, which results in a creative block. “I overcome it by going out and seeing new places, lots of travelling, and I try to meet new people in spaces that aren’t necessarily familiar territory for me.”
THE INTERNET OF CREATIVITY
While Tshabalala has a host of successes to his name, the creative path is not an easy one to tread. He says one of the most difficult obstacles was, “Establishing an identity for my style of work and garnering recognition in that regard.” He goes on to explain that social media has played a big role in establishing his brand: “I’ve always taken my personal brand seriously, so I used
I’m inspired by other creatives from all walks of life, and I leverage off the beautiful stories that others tell, sometimes without saying a word. I’m also inspired by our country and all its events – good and bad. – David Tshabalala
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