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Our paths may cross with others, thinking it was meant to happen; as we learn, grow and feed off each other. What we don’t have control over is the time we spend and the memories we share with others. And yet, our lives take form in ways we can’t comprehend because life can’t be swayed. Then, we find that the lessons we acquire help us view things differently, with a sense of maturity, hoping we never make the same mistakes, at least not more than twice.

Some people are fortunate to catch up with their destiny, not that they are any better, but because they took notice of what was missing. Nkululeko Zulu chased his dream until he caught up to it, and when he did, he worked tirelessly at perfecting his craft. And as he’s found, no true artist can go a day without art and its entire creativeness.

I spent P-hive Minutes with Nkululeko Zulu, an illustrator so genuine and humble; you could almost tell his muse runs a little deeper.

As the founder, art-director and graphic artist of artNwar Apparel; do you carry out all the work by yourself or do you have hired help?

Concerning the artwork that goes on the garments, I do everything from conceptualising, sketching to executing the final artwork digitally. In terms of marketing and promotion to push sales, I have people I work closely with, who help with spreading the word and create hype as much as they can.

Growing up, did you know you’d take up illustrating and graphic designing as a career?

No not at all actually, in my earlier years while I was in high school, I was into poetry and writing (I believe I was quite the prodigy). I have this thing that when the writer/poet inside of me died, that gave birth to who I am now, a graphic artist, I believe it was a transformation of energy from one form to another. When I studied graphic designing at Rosebank College, I didn’t expect what I got from it because I realised that some things can’t be learnt at school. The course was more IT than designing but it helped me understand the industry and how it works.

How did the moniker ArtNWar come about and what made you decide to turn your talent into a business?

The name artNwar came about when I and a very good friend started a t-shirt business with creating designs with hand-cut stencils. We needed to brand the shirts, so we came up with a list. One of the names in the list was Creative Destruction which we thought was cool but not as cool as the names of the bands we were into, names like Holly and the Woods, Desmond and the Tutus etc. So I broke down Creative Destruction into something as cool as the brand; Creative became Art and Destruction became War.

Your drawings are dynamic because of the concepts you convey and bring together. What is the idea behind your work?

My artwork draws a lot of influence from the early skateboard culture and rock-poster art from the likes of Jim Phillips, Pushead and Rick Griffin to name a few. Comic books, graffiti and tattoo cultures also influence my work to some extent. Most of my work comes from an infusion of all these cultures.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you sit and plan each artwork before you work on it?

I can’t force it although I try to draw as much as I can; it has to come to me. I have to be inspired or motivated in one way or the other.

From drawing to printing the artwork on t-shirts and stickers. On average, how long does it take to complete a piece?

With personal work it all depends on how much work and detail I need to put into a piece to convey or express what I want to do with that particular artwork. It can be a few hours, days, a week or even a month. Although with commissioned work, time is money and work has to be done within a limited time frame and meet a deadline.

Any specific artists, both locally and internationally, you’d like to work with?

South Africa has loads of amazing talent, from established and emerging artists. There are a lot of artists I’d be stoked to work with, including Sindiso Nyoni aka Riot, because his work is brilliant. On the international arena, it would be the amazing illustrator Mr Jeremy Fish. I’m a fan of design and the arts and I have a huge library of inspirations and favourite artists and designers which I follow very closely.

You are looking into working with other artists in the near future. What do you hope to achieve through the collaborations?

I’m looking to work and make friends with as many artists as I possibly can, to fuse the talents and create authentic consumable products that will change our situation as artists. To see us succeed, taking care of ourselves and loved ones.

How did you come up with the unique packaging that artNwar Apparel uses to package its product?

The pizza box packaging of the t-shirts is the first and one of many awesome packing ideas brewing in the artNwar laboratory. I wanted to create a memorable user experience, to make the consumers feel like they’re buying more than just a t-shirt but a carefully crafted product made with the soul of the artist. I want to give consumers the experience and service they’ll never get from their favourite fashion outlet.

Why should artists take their work seriously and thereafter turn it into a business?

Your work as an artist could represent your view of the world, the human condition, it could be your social commentary on current issues or just basically your opinion but more importantly it is your expression, if you do not take it seriously no one else will. Taking it seriously or professionally is critical for making a living out of it or making it into a sustainable source of one’s grind. Love and respect your craft and others will follow.

What do you want to achieve through artNwar Apparel? And what is your ultimate idea of success?

To create a legacy that will exist beyond me. My ultimate idea of success is working the way I feel as an artist. I want to be allowed to be at my best and to work with who I want to, with complete creative freedom.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on the next range in the artNwar t-shirt line, and looking into expanding the product range with sweatshirts, hoodies, socks and head gear. I’m also interested in commissioning or collaborating with other artists for future prints.

As an illustrator and graphic designer, what is art to you?

Art is the truth, it is what it is. It is creation. It is God’s expression manifesting through us.

Find your calling, and you’ll find yourself wrapped around in contentment that you never knew existed. You’ll be happier than those that continue to live to please the world, because afterall, your happiness should be a priority.

Sharing inspiration doesn’t mean giving less of yourself, in fact; you gain much more in return. With art, one idea gives birth to thousands, and in turn tends to change people’s lives. If art can change an artist’s entire being, then imagine what it could do for communities that yearn for a difference. Art is in each of us. So, where are you looking?

Article by Sithembiso Promise Sixaba
Source: Words That Start With P
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