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Spotlight: Sinenhlanhla '99perspective' Chauke Creates Scenic Illustrations of Black People In Safe Spaces

The South African illustrator is offering feel-good moments during lockdown with his 21-day portrait series.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Sinenhlanhla "99perspective" Chauke, a South African illustrator and designer, who has worked with brands like Puma and Shekinah Donnell, to name a few. He's currently creating vibrant portraits of young South Africans to boost spirits during lockdown, as part of a 21-day challenge. Read more about the series, as well as the inspirations behind his distinctive illustration style below. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?

I am a 21-year-old Illustrator and graphic designer, originally from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. I moved to Cape Town to study Visual Communication and Multimedia at a Friends of Design Academy of Digital Arts. While I was still a student, I felt that it was time for me to express my perspective through content curation as well as my style and aesthetics—through all forms of illustration, whether in commercial or editorial work. Hence the name '99 Perspective.'

What are the central themes in your work?

The central themes of my work often involve characters in safe spaces, interior environments and more. I often refer to my illustrations as scenes because they feel like a moment or screenshot taken from a film. The core theme that I always stick to is portraying black men and women in spaces that are true to them. I'm also inspired by interior design and architecture. I try to bring that same aesthetic into my portraits and other commercial illustrative work.


Illustration by Sinenhlanhla "99perspective" Chauke

How did you came to pursue a creative path?

I remember in high school sitting in my Physical Science class and completely breaking down and walking out because I was extremely unhappy and depressed because I was doing something I thought was expected of me as a black child, and something that would make sure I secured a stable career as a Psychologist, Doctor, Lawyer, etc. So I changed subjects into fine art and walked away with a distinction. It proved to me that I was born a creative and that creativity was in my blood.

What's the idea behind the 21-day portrait challenge?

The 21-day challenge came to me as I was traveling on a hot sunny day from Joburg to Nelspruit before South Africa's lockdown. I was thinking of a way I could increase visibility for my work and garner attention for my brand while simultaneously making people excited and positive during this pandemic of COVID-19. The 21-day challenge was developed and over 200 people entered and it helped me grab people's attention since a lot of people are at home. This challenge has also helped my development and helped me improve my workflow overall. I've started to become more confident in my work and happier, as it has made me smile from ear to ear whenever somebody receives their portrait and it genuinely makes their day so much better.

What's next on your journey as an artist?

The Journey has only just begun to be quite honest. Through using social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram, I have managed to build a following and have eyes on my brand. It's super important for me to always upload quality work and take time to perfect all the work that I do so that [it can be a] testament to my core values.

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Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images.

Angélique Kidjo on Africa Day: 'We demand not to be at the mercy of our circumstances anymore.'

We speak to the inimitable Angélique Kidjo who shares some of her refreshing thoughts on Africa Day.

Today is Africa Day and while primarily a commemoration of the formation of the African Union (AU) back in 1963, it has also become an opportunity to unapologetically celebrate Africa while providing a moment for reflection on how far we've come as a continent and as a people.

With this year's theme focused on "Silencing the Guns in the context of the COVID19", there has never been a more important time for deep reflection on our collective present and future as Africans.

And who better to share in that reflection than the legendary and inimitable Beninese musician Angélique Kidjo? A fierce African and artist who has paved the way for many of her contemporaries including Burna Boy, Davido, Thandiswa Mazwai, and several others, the four-time Grammy award winner emphasises the urgent need for unity among Africans. 'It's about time that people start realising that Africa is a continent. I've been saying this my entire career,' she says passionately.

OkayAfrica spoke briefly to Kidjo who shared some of her refreshing thoughts on this year's Africa Day.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Thandiswa Mazwai to Host 'Play Your Part Africa' Virtual Concert

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