Young Designer Profile: Nokwanda Themba, South Africa

Last year, Maki & Mpho hosted Design Competition accepting designs from several young artists in South Africa. This is our unique initiative to promote the African renaissance in design: We hope to inspire and collaborate with young artists in the continent to reflect diversity and richness of today's Africa. Each applicant was asked to submit six designs using the theme of the Hamba Collection, and our selection team decided the winner. The winner was awarded with the cash prize and obtained an opportunity to collaborate with us! Today, we want to feature the winning designer, Nokwanda Themba. 

Nokwanda is a 20-year-old self-taught contemporary design illustrator and all-round artist of Zambian/South African origin. She is also a co-curator and writer for well-followed Dynamic Africa blog. She loves fashion and occasionally does modeling as well. And she does it all while being a full-time student studying Human Physiology at the University of Pretoria.

We interviewed her to find out more about her creative passion and dream.

Nokwanda Themba.

Nokwanda Themba.

What inspires you to be creative?
I'm constantly inspired by the littlest things in my everyday life, other artists such as Brianna McCarthy (Trinidad and Tobago-based mixed media visual artist) or simply the beauty in people. My desire to be better inspires me as well. There is always room for improvement.

Has anyone influenced you to become an artist?
Being an artist is intrinsic for me. If I'm not being creative in some kind of way then I am not being my true self. Like breathing and eating, I do not choose to become an artist, but it's life for me. I try to be my highest and best self - not necessarily anyone else.

Submitted artwork by Nokwanda. ©Nokwanda Themba

What do you like to share about your culture? Why?
Our magic and vibrancy. My work is very colorful and I like to view Africa as that. Western media tends to depict Africa as this pit of misery and suffering. This is why I choose not to do political art as well. I don't want to evoke desolation. We are so full of joy, talent, and brilliance. I choose to depict that.

 Submitted artwork by Nokwanda. ©Nokwanda Themba.

What is your dream?
To continue taking care of my creative health. and possibly have my own print and craft studio. I also have an interest in designing - I would love to have my own clothing, handbags or shoe brand.

Submitted artwork by Nokwanda. ©Nokwanda Themba

To find out more about her artwork, you can visit her portfolio page.  We are excited to continue working with Nokwanda and fellow young artists in the continent! Stay tuned for the future collaboration!