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David Tshabalala

In Flight Magazine - - ISSUE - { TEXT: PAULA RA­BEL­ING | IMAGES © DAVID TSHABALALA }

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

Trace Ur­ban Man­dela Day Col­lab

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