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R!OT

by Tseliso Monaheng / 16.01.2015

Artist Sindiso Nyoni (alias R!ot) had a busy 2014. Since we hung out with him and the homies from Alphabet Zoo on their Word On The 5treet paste-up mission, he’s been commissioned by Adidas to customise rugby boots, created designs for the launch of PSL club Kaizer Chiefs F.C’s Nike sponsored kit; had his work featured on a major retailer’s clothing range; and got to do a fair amount of travelling.

We connected again following his European trip to catch up…

Tseliso: What was Europe about?

R!ot: I’d taken a break. A [designer] homie of mine that side was showing me spots, and we got to do a bit of street art. He’s got a little set-up – a collective called Cheval – with other designers. They do pretty much everything, so I just chilled with them for a while. They’re actually doing a magazine right now; one of the guys does a music magazine where he features all the local bands that side. I was also checking out the street art scene in Berlin, and checking out what’s happening in Amsterdam, just to have a feel of what cats are doing that side.

I think there’s a whole lot of similarities in the shit that we’re all doing, but I think here, we have a lot more scope in the sense that we’ve got a lot more to say, and there’s a lot more meat here. Everything pretty much looks the same that side; there’s no doubt about it that they’re skilled, dope shit happening, but I think here is pretty much where there’s diverse, dope shit happening.

KAISER CHIEFS ADVERT BY R!OT

KAISER CHIEFS ADVERT BY R!OT

So what advantages do they have over us here?

There’s a lot more pumped into art that side. There are [a lot] more galleries. For instance, there’ll be a museum that deals with photography only, whereas here, we’re still catching up. In Amsterdam, there was a museum gallery for up-and-coming photographers, fashion photography. You get to check out up-and-coming cats sharing space with cats who are established. Not that they don’t [pump money] this side, but I think that side they do it on a larger scale. I think it doesn’t make sense because our population here is much more than them anyway, so it should be the other way round.

How has your style changed over time?

I could say maybe being more comfortable creating in a certain style. Before, people would come to me saying ‘can you appropriate and try to make this look like that?’ and that’s not where you want to be. You want to be in a space where people are coming to you to say ‘okay cool, can you do you?’ That’s what’s evolved. I’ve been developing a style all these years. The reason why I was developing that style was for it to get recognised. I think now I’m in a position where people are actually coming to me for that style. I am trying to experiment more in the sense of collaborating with more cats that are not doing the kind of shit that I’m doing. That’s how you learn. I’m doing stuff with filmakers; I’m gonna be doing stuff with guys doing fashion, actually getting into the idea of how to make garments. It’s cool to have cool graphics, but then you want to move and say ‘what kind of products can you make?’ For me, the fashion thing is really gonna pick up.

So is that where your head is headed next? Fashion?

That’s what I’m sitting on right now, nothing’s been revealed yet. When you’re sharpening something, you kind of want it just right.

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Commemorative, 76th birthday anniversary poster print of Nigerian nationalist and Godfather of afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

How did the Woolworths co-sign come about?

That was just some name-dropping. I See A Different You were approached by Woolworths and they were like ‘hey, we’ve got the perfect guy for you.’ [Woolworths] told me it’s gonna be a graphic tee range, this is what it’s about, the brief was free rein, which was nice as well because they came to me for my style. They were like ‘at the end of the day, we just want your stuff to appeal to urban youth across the field in South Africa.’

What’s your personal style?

It’s a mixture. It’s rooted in comic book art. It has a very pop art, graphic feel. It also looks into a lot of Afro-futurism, and lot of history and commentary. There are things to be said. It’s a fusion of all these things. Also looking at patterns, stuff that’s happening on the continent.

Lastly, let’s talk about your fascination with films, and with hip hop music.

Man, that shit all raised me! I don’t think I’d be the kind of artist that I am if those things weren’t there. For me, growing up on hip hop, listening to those lyrics, and seeing the culture shape and become what it is today – I can say I was pretty much there from the beginning, up until where it is now. Seeing the influence that hip hop has in popular culture: the way it seeps into the mainstream, whether it’s in art, whether it’s in fashion… for me, growing up in Zim during that time, being bombarded by all that pop culture – that’s kind of what shaped the work. Sometimes you don’t realise until you start creating your stuff that ‘oh shit, I was actually inspired by this, and I get my influences from this!’ For me, those things have played a big role in raising or grooming the artist in me. All those things are forms of art. Nothing exists in isolation, all these things influence each other. It’s only natural that all those artforms and elements play a big role in the kind of stuff that I do.

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AFRICAN CREAM MUSIC ALBUM ART

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EDGE EVENTS POSTERS

XENOPHOBIA

GHOST SELF PORTRAIT PROJECT ART

MUNKY-SEE-BY-R!OT

WINTER WONDERLAND PRINTS – MONKEY SEE

FLOURESCENT SIN

FLOURESCENT SIN

BELLY

ORANGE BABIES

*Visit R!ot’s Behance page www.behance.net/guerillart to keep updated on his projects.

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