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Meet The ‘Non Artist’ Con.Artists

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Last night the Con.Artists exhibition of experimental works by ‘non artists’ instigated by Jana + Koos popped up again for another night’s showing as part of the inaugural First Thursdays Johannesburg. The idea for the project grew out of the duo’s belief in and practice of creative freedom and exploration in their work that is unrelated to any client brief or strategic vision – just plain old creative play.


However, for most people stuck behind desks at agencies or in offices all day (and often night), there’s hardly ever time to indulge this kind of creativity. But this doesn’t mean that there’s not a wealth of latent talent out there, hidden away in notebooks and desk drawers. Pros at making stuff happen, Jana + Koos hatched the idea for Con.Artists and invited some of their talented but creatively suppressed friends that they’d met during their agency circuits to come and play.




Over a course of three evening workshops (with local food by The Bowery and drinks to get the creative juices flowing), the invited Con.Artists got down to creating. Working in their medium of choice, there were no pre-ideas, expected outcomes, or limitations. Not only did the workshops force people in front of their creative materials, but put their work in progress – often an almost secret part of the process –  in the light of public view. While this is frightening to most, it leaves no excuses or options but to just get down to it and see what happens. “This feels like a great fit for us; art, messing around and seeing where it takes you is part of our DNA” Jana + Koos say.


The work that was produced during the Con.Artists workshops almost completely sold out in the first one-night pop-up exhibition in April. “We didn’t know what was going to come out of it”, Jana explains, “so we’re pleasantly surprised.” Before the second pop-up of this exhibition opened last night, we stopped by to learn a little about these ‘non artist’ Con Artists.


Rui Alves: ECD at Y&R and damn talented illustrator.

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Mia Widlake: Product designer and owner of Studio 19. Knows how to arrange scatter cushions and objetcs.

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Mbuso Ndlovu: An ex ad creative turned hotshot filmmaker.

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Koos Groenewald: 1 part of Jana + Koos. Fun fact: Koos paints the colour first, then adds the black outline.

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Jen Bradley: When neither economics nor architecture did it for her, Jen started Damn Good Looking.

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Jana Hamman: 1 part of Jana + Koos. Decided that painting over paintings is more fun. Plus an egg.

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Juliet Honey: CD at Net#work BBDO. Likes meme lolz.

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Dillon Harland: Agency designer. Should probably consider moving to Cape Town to become a freelance illustrator.

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Jana + Koos: You take a photo I’ll scrunch it up and then we’ll call it art.

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Coenie Grebe: Art director at Net#work BBDO. Does iPad doodles of his copywriter and naughty bits.

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