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hl next level 2018: art director masonwabe ntloko

Trevor Stuurman


In 2012 Masonwabe Ntloko, a.k.a. The 21st Century Black Man, could have given up after being diagnosed with optic nerve failure, but came back with his first solo exhibition in 2017 – a major success for the newest kid on the block. It’s no wonder Design Indaba named him one of its 2018 Emerging Creatives. His Instagram account takes the form of a vertical book, exhibiting his latest work in one single image that scrolls down to reveal ever-cooler ideas, so do a deep dive when you get time.

how did you get started?

I've always been that kid who was good at drawing so I've always known from a young age that I would grow up to be an artist of some sorts, so the more I grew the more I explored with different mediums my thing for the longest time was pencil then when I got into varsity for my first year I got introduced to design and its software they use (Photoshop, Illustrator etc). Obviously when I started I was doing what everyone else was doing, but I searched and found my own way of designing with some help from my first year lecturer, Nii Botchway, who taught me that design needs to have meaning.

did you always want to be doing what you’re doing now?

I've always known from a young age that I would grow up to be an artist of some sorts but I wasn't sure what I was going to be due to the lack of information on art and design.

what’s been your defining career moment to date?

Hosting my own solo exhibition last year.

are there any artists you look up to?

Laduma Ngxokolo, Black Coffee, Nelson Makamo and Trevor Stuurman.

where do you find your inspiration?

Culture, love, politics and people's stories.

what is your earliest visual memory?

A cross-etched image of horses running on my grandmother’s wall, which was apparently bought by my grandfather who I was named after, although I never met him.

which single place would you recommend people visit, and why?

A small village in the Eastern Cape called Ngwane, this is because it’s so rich in culture and the people there are friendly; they still believe in the values of ubuntu.

what’s the memorable piece of art you’ve ever seen?

‘The Kiss’ by Bella Kotak.

what are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently working as an art director for the ‘Yellow Tour’ under Kulture Kollective’s creative direction.

Learn all about the game changers who are taking things to the Next Level in our #HLNEXTLEVEL2018  issue..