24 Jan Featured: Osmond Tshuma
Osmond Tshuma is an artist and graphic designer currently furthering his studies at the University of Johannesburg. He has either been studying art in one form or another – Fine Art and graphic design – or accumulating work experience in the industry for just short of a decade. Osmond’s work is informed by his experience as a Zimbabwean immigrant, his keen interest in African history and the endless inspiration he finds in the diverse local cultures of Southern Africa. Here, we find out more.
When did you first discover graphic design as a career opportunity and when did you make the decision to pursue it?
It was 2007 when I first heard of graphic design. I had just finished my two year Diploma in Fine Art, at the Peter Birch School of Art (Zimbabwe). I really did not know what graphic design was. I came to know it when one of my friends suggested that Pace College (Zimbabwe), had a programme which taught students how to draw on a computer. I then enrolled for the programme. This is where I fell in love with graphic design. That same year I got my first job at a design agency in Harare called Happen Communication. Ever since then, I have been learning more about graphic design from Harare Polytechnic College to the University of Johannesburg.
Some of your work draws from African history – both political and cultural – what interests you about using the past as inspiration or reference in your work?
The diversity of African history fascinates me incredibly. Africa has gone through changes over the years; colonialisation of Africa, African countries fighting for freedom and lastly African countries gaining independence. We might come from different nations, however we are all linked by the history of Africa. In some of my work, I try to use elements which people can relate to whether it be political or cultural elements. For instance, the use of colour in most African cultures plays a significant role and by drawing from these cultures one can communicate a certain message. One other fascinating feature of African history is the craftsmanship which is portrayed through wooden face masks and sculptures. I just love them.
Your projects ‘Tauya’ and ‘Egoli Raiders’ speak about immigrants living in Johannesburg and xenophobia. Can you please tell us more about these projects and the story behind them?
‘TAUYA’ was a commentary on the widespread xenophobic attacks that occurred in South Africa during 2008 to 2009. As a Zimbabwean immigrant myself, the issue is deeply personal and affecting; a network of which I am a part of on a daily basis. Most immigrants come to Johannesburg, the City of Gold, hence the word, ‘TAUYA’ which means we have come (to Johannnesburg). The project was based on five different immigrants (both legal and illegal) currently seeking a better life in ‘the City of Gold’. As a result, I later created an online infographic magazine which summarised and tracked their route into the country.
The Egoli Raiders was a project to help the illegal DVD vendors who sell pirated material. Most the vendors that I interviewed for the project were illegal immigrants. One could say the project is controversial, as piracy is a crime. However most of the DVD vendors are just trying to make a living. They are always on the run from the Metropolitan Police, as they can be arrested, hence the reason way they sell their DVDs on the pavement in the CBD. I then designed the Egoli Raider bag with the help of Sheela Chita, a fashion designer. The bag is made out of A1 plastic sleeves which are stitched on to A1 boards and spiral bind. The bag fits 60 – 80dvds and the vendors can now display their DVDs in style.
It’s always exciting to find a designer with something to say. Can you elaborate on your use of design to make a statement?
Design is a powerful tool to make a statement, but also one must be careful of what to say. I do sometimes create provocative projects just to make a statement. In designing I sometimes embed questions and thoughts into the work. With this, the artwork doesn’t just say one thing, but different people can read it differently. For instance the Freedom March Poster 2013, is a call for support, call for people of Zimbabwe to go and vote, however at the same time it questions the notion of voting as life and death.
Who are your design inspirations?
I’m inspired by Chaz Maviyane Davies, Sindiso Nyoni, Ross Drakes, Saki Mafundikwa and Stefan Sagmeister.
Can you tell us a bit about your process from the brief to final product?
The first thing I do when I get a brief is to try and understand what the brief is all about. I will then do research depending on what the brief is about. The next step is brainstorming of ideas, creating a mind map, doesn’t matter how vague some ideas might be at that time, but I still write them down. Afterwards I will choose two or three ideas and compare them (to see which one is the strongest idea). After I have chosen the strongest idea, I will make sketches and I will research the look & feel suitable for the concept. Designing then starts.
What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
The Colonial Bastard Typeface is my favourite project, I think it’s because it was challenging and I had go back and dig through my high school stuff, for the compass and protractor.
What can we expect from you in 2014?
The Colonial Bastard Rhodes typeface was just the first, so look out for three more typefaces: Colonial Bastard Stanley, Colonial Bastard Bismarck and Colonial Bastard Livingstone.
Stay updated at www.behance.net/osmondtshuma