Sindiso Nyoni a creative, a master mind of art and an architect of ideas lives to his ultimate potential. With a vast knowledge of his craft and an understanding of the creative world he calculates and delivers on true passion and grit. Much is left to say when a young man with great zeal puts himself in the good light for the world to embrace. His words and enthusiasm of his work are an illustration of his true African ethic and patriotic energy.
Q1. If an introduction of you was given to the world what would it say?
A: A Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) born, self-developed Graphic artist who has been described as a contemporary illustrator, activist, street-artist, and multi-disciplinary graphic designer. He obtained a BTech Degree in Graphic Design from the University of Johannesburg and has worked as an illustrator and art director in the South African advertising sector.
Also known as R!OT, his work has been published locally; exhibited at International Biennial Poster Exhibitions and he has collaborated on projects which have won Cannes Lion awards. The Johannesburg based graphic artist, tackles some of Africa’s most pressing issues in the form of visual art. His work primarily consists of a pencil, ink, pastels, gauche, acrylic and digital media fusion, to create a subversive ‘street’ style. His work has been showcased locally as well as far afield as New York, London, Berlin, Madrid, Teneriffe, Zagreb, The Vitra Design Museum, The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City.With a portfolio that comprises local and international brands, he is a member of The South African Mint Design Advisory Panel, The Loerie Awards Communication Design judging jury for 2018 & 2017, has been part of the Design Indaba mentorship programme, The Botswana based Ideas Expo judging jury for 2014, The African representative for Icograda’s 50th/World Communication Design Day showcase 2013, as well as an ISS (International Security Studies) Alumni from the African Centre for Peace & Security Training in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
Q2. What has become your muse?
A: As a visual artist I have quite a few influences that cover many disciplines. These include artists, movements, fashion, books, poetry, music and cinema, (via the art of story-telling and message conveying). These influences usually leave profound impressions on me prompting me to create art. I respect and admire many unconventional and mainstream visionaries across many art & design disciplines, as well. To name a few, I’ve been particularly inspired by the works of Dumile Feni, Thami Mnyele, Chaz Maviyane Davies, Saki Mafundikwa, Emory Douglas aswell as filmmakers Spike Lee and Melvin Van Peebles. The link to social activism is what denotes my visual aesthetic (which is heavily influenced by protest poster art, stemming from liberation movements in Africa and the third world). By combining images and text to inspire people out of placidity my work attempts to tackle some of Africa’s most pressing issues in the form of visual art. My culture and origins play a significant role in my overall work and activism. I often use protest and dissent to communicate messages via the use of art. I feel that as creative practitioners we have a duty to contribute to our communities using art that addresses social issues, advocates awareness and change, which can ultimately open minds to act towards making a difference. Human beings are at the centre of my art & design and I’m on an ongoing search to use my skills to make the human life better.
“My culture and origins play a significant role in my overall work and activism. I often use protest and dissent to communicate messages via the use of art..”
– Sindiso Nyoni
Q3. Would you have seen yourself five years ago where you are today?
A: To a certain degree yes, as I have been very mindful since starting out, about positioning as well as aligning myself and my craft in the direction or path I’ve managed to steer it to.
Q4. What do you think the Zimbabwean advertising industry can learn from the South African One?
A: Although my involvement in the SA advertising scene has been very limited (by choice) I feel it has grown vastly in strides over the decades it has been active, and continues to thrive because of the competitive market it operates in which unfortunately such a market is almost non-existent currently in Zimbabwe. Therefore, cues that the Zimbabwe industry could take from the SA one is to be more innovative, focus on quality output, emphasis on relevance to brands and target audiences as well as the chosen mediums employed.
Q5. What’s the trademark of your work, what makes it stand out?
A: Born in 1984, I am the product of my country’s Independence, which was realized in 1980. You could say I was ‘born free from the segregation and colonial repression’ that blighted Zimbabwe’s past, but still ‘grew up in turbulent times characterized by the internal conflicts of the Shona and Ndebele factions’. Experiences like this have however shaped my identity informing the depth and range of my work. The nature of my art journey has prompted me to strive for impact, not just continentally, beyond the land-locked borders of my homeland, but also internationally in North & South America, Europe and the Far East. My culture and origins play a a significant role in my overall work and activism. The themes that run throughout my pieces are often to a degree based on the concept of Afrofuturism. These themes are often fused with religious iconography which is a result of my upbringing in both a Christian and Traditional household. Within a Southern African context however, there is a growing conflict between traditional/ancestral spiritual presence versus religion. This is a result of an adopted free thinking mind-set that questions status quos and conventions in society. This school of thought is common amongst the urban generation and more artistic individuals who question religion but at the same time are in touch with some sort of ancestral spirituality.
Q6. As a creative what is the toughest thing you have had to deal with daily and what is the one thing you look forward to?
A: I’ve been living in Johannesburg for the past 13 years now. Citing the words of the philosopher and martial artist Bruce Lee “I believe that everyone is a citizen of the world.” He articulated something that had been an abstract belief of mine for years and the multi-layered statement still carries a lot of resonance with me today. The belief that we should all be free to live and work where we choose despite your birthplace, race or creed, that we all share a planet and not separate regions, that humanity is one big ball of a community and we need to carry each other along to thrive. Why then is there such trouble with immigration? My experiences and challenges as an immigrant in SA have often informed some of my visual art, as well as being in the mix of the ‘melting pot of cultures’ which is vibrant in the city has also inspired my art work. On that note I look forward to everyday that I have the ability to just create, it’s more a journey than it is a destination and I am constantly learning along the way.
Q7. Movies or Books?
A: That’s a tricky one as I am inspired a lot by literature and moving picture. My work draws a lot of inspiration from words as well as film but I guess if I was to choose one I’d go for film, because of the endless possibilities to push creative boundaries as well as bring to life visually the ideas which begin on paper.
Q8. If you were to give a Tedtalk for creatives what would you speak about?
A: I think the business of art is still an important topic as many practitioners today still don’t understand their worth and the value their craft adds in this world and so sadly exploitation is still rife in the creative industry.
Q9. What does art truly mean to you?
A: Art is a self-defining process and a creative way for expression. Art and its many factions, (music, film, visuals etc.) is how I cope with different seasons in my life. To a large degree it has defined me