Q&A: Meet The SA Artists Who Reimagined Converse’s Chuck Taylor

by | Jun 9, 2020 | Art, Fashion, Hustle, iStayela, Kulture, Latest, Lifestyle, Pioneering, Profile | 0 comments

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Sindiso Nyoni and Nardstar are among the five local artists who were commissioned to redesign the classic white Converse Hi-top (Chuck 70s) to depict the African experience of the novel virus, COVID-19, as part of the Converse Unity Project.

Compiled by: Blacklight writer
Main image: Sindiso Nyoni [Photo Supplied]

Intending to impart a message of “hope, strength, positivity, and survival”, the artists – who also include Fhatuwani Mukheli, David Tshabalala, and Falko Fantastic – each designed the limited-edition sneaker, with only 75 pairs available per design (proceeds from all the net sales are going towards the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund).

Khulekani2020AD. [Designed by Sindiso].

Sindiso Nyoni – @sindiso

Sindiso (also known as R!OT) is a Zimbabwean-born self-developed contemporary illustrator, street artist and multidisciplinary graphic designer.

He holds a B-Tech degree in Graphic Design from University of Johannesburg (UJ), and has worked as an illustrator and art director in the advertising sector.

The popular designer has partnered with some of the most iconic brands, both locally and internationally. His work has also been published and showcased locally and internationally, including in New York, London, Berlin and Madrid. 

According to him, his design method consists of mostly “pencil, ink, pastels, gauche, acrylic and digital media fusion, to create a “subversive ‘street’ style.”

Blacklight: What is your design process?
My creative process begins with sheets of blank paper and usually an idea coupled with a phrase. For me the preparation process is the most vital stage of any creative brief.

The process of developing and planning something from the pencil and paper phase, and morphing it into a finished artwork is what determines the outcome of a design. So, I usually sketch out an idea five to six times before being content with an initial starting point.

BL: What is the meaning behind your design – Khulekani2020AD?
S: My design draws inspiration from African mask making and pattern artistry and is a reminder during these uncertain times to stay connected to our spirituality, to maintain our sanity.

BL: How important is design/creativity in these tumultuous times?
I feel that it is a great value for creatives to know that they have tools and the ability to effect massive change, and not always within a for-profit organisation. As creatives, we have to contribute to our communities using art that addresses social issues, raises awareness and advocates for change, which can ultimately open minds to act towards making a difference.

BL: What have been some of the key lessons you had to learn that ensured you flourish in your respective field?
S: During the space of time in which I have been operating as a creative, I have treated failures, challenges, and obstacles as stepping stones to getting to where I would eventually like to be. 

The first obstacles encountered came early in my college years, when I moved to Johannesburg. I had to freelance and double up as a barman/waiter to raise tuition fees to pay for my degree. Once this was achieved, the second goal was to step into the industry and make a mark or name for myself.

This proved difficult, in an industry which already has so many gatekeepers. At that time not too many creatives of colour were prominently visible. So, getting some sort of recognition was a challenging long process, but a challenge that I’ve learnt a great deal from.

Street artist, Nardstar. [Photo: Supplied]

Nardstar – @nard_star

Nardstar is an award-winning Cape Town-based street artist. She is one of the few renowned female street artists who have managed to forge a reputable name for herself, both nationally and internationally.

The artist has collaborated with some of the most celebrated brands, and her murals adorn many walls, including the walls of Constitution Hill prison and Nike World Headquarters in New York City.

Her work has been described as, “Bold and diverse, focusing on women of colour, local fauna and flora as well as embracing the more traditional style of lettering.”

The artist says she started experimenting with Graffiti at the age of 18 “and it has blossomed into a career as an artist.”

Backlight: What is your design process like?
Nardstar: I’m a graffiti artist so any design or digital work that I do is directly linked to that. On walls, on the street or for commissions, I focus on painting local people, animals and plants, and that is the inspiration for any medium that I work in.

BL: What is the meaning behind your sneaker design Boskop?
I wanted to depict that right now, we are united by being apart. I show this by painting half a pincushion protea on each shoe, and when placed together it makes the complete flower.

Boskop. [Designed by Nardstar].

BL: How important is design/creativity in these tumultuous times?
N: Creativity, design and art serve the same purpose now as it always has. It will be used to; inform people about the current situation, as a distraction from the uncertainties, as a therapeutic tool, as personal expression, as documentation of the pandemic and as social commentary.

BL: What has been the key lesson you have learned as a creative that ensured that you flourish in your respective field?
N: I learnt that I need to keep working and give my best, always.

For more on the Converse Unity Project sneakers go to: Converse

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