The love between Clinton Mashabela and his artistic expression
The love story of Pretoria-based visual artist, Clinton Mashabela and his artistic expression, began with pencil and paper. And it has since become a tale of two lovers who have made room for growth. Mashabela who knew this love through graphite and blank sheets has allowed his artistic gift to lead the way to his digital skills. His desire to replicate Japanese artistic styles is what breathed life into the expansion of the love story. In addition to this, he slowly then all at once let go of the hand of graphite that held his expression for a long time. He released its grip because he felt that the pencil and paper medium is financially demanding and failing to meet its demands meant sacrificing his mind’s need to create.
With his artistic expression providing him the room to care for it through digital art, Mashabela and his lover are able to explore the adventures of art styles and are liberated to go over their mistakes and fix them. Graphite stood in the way of this, so this is something he appreciates about how he creates his art now.
Mashabela’s art is digital illustrations of musicians. His work is both portraiture and cover art. His latest artworks are of Tyla’s Getting Late single and Flame’s EP, Dead or Alive. For him, ‘what makes a good cover art is if you could successfully capture the essence of the song/album. It needs to be a visual representation that the listener will go through upon hearing the music therefore it is very important for us as designers to listen to the music and try to grasp what the musician was going for.’
His process of creating is one that happens gradually as if he is climbing up a ladder with his artistic expression and reaching the pinnacle of the cover art and portraits he creates. He and his lover carry handfuls of ideas, concepts of execution as well as reworked drafts and experiments step-by-step in their journey to the final artwork.
And sometimes they are not alone. Mashabela, his artistic expression and music accompany each other with the help of his playlists which also hold the power of inspiration. The combination of pop, hip-hop and house music in the vocals of Zonke, Tyla, Blaq Diamond and others remain a part of his state of creation. Mashabela’s relationship with music is not just inspirational; it is a source of life for him. He expresses that he has illustrated 15 artists he listens to while working. Nasty C, Tyla, Shane Eagle, J Molley, A-Reece, Flame, Elaine, ProVerb, Yanga, Paxton, Stogie T, Rowlene, Makhadzi, Sho Madjozi and Nadia Nakai’s faces are the subject of some of his portraits.
In the next 5 years, Mashabela aspires to create within the international art space.