The Hero Expo at Open Design Cape Town lets illustrators to turn everyday objects into artworks. This year, the design brief asked artists to customise a pair of sneaker skates using their favourite comic heroes as inspiration. We had a quick chat to the curator, Philipp Schmid, about the process and aims behind the 4th annual Hero Expo.
What inspired the hero theme?
We wanted to create a showcase of art that the visitors can easily relate to – unlike traditional art exhibitions that often feature art that can be very hard to digest. Heroes are characters most of us can relate to through comics, movies or various other mediums. They live in our imagination, in the games and stories we tell.
The hero theme is also carries a big role within the exhibition. While we chose a different platform to customise every year (1st year: vinyl toys, 2nd year: skate decks, 3rd year: scooter tyres, 4th year: roller skates), the hero spirit remains the same. A hero can be a character that the artist considers special, whether related to its abilities, heroic actions or anything else they deem worthy to be called a hero. Heroes are seen as inspiring, which is also what we’re trying to achieve with our exhibition.
Tell us a bit about the process and how the artists were chosen.
The selection process starts with a workshop where the participants submit an illustrated version of the hero they which to customise. We then invite the 20 best submissions to an evening workshop where we cover a short part of the background of the platform we’re customising by featuring a representative of the respective industry to come and chat to our artists. We also show them how to customise that specific platform.
After the workshop, we supply the artists with the platform which is usually sponsored by a corporate (so it’s free for the artist) and give them 30 days to customise it into a Hero Expo piece. The workshop is aimed at people that can already illustrate and draw, which is why we don’t focus on actual drawing techniques.
What were the aims of the exhibit?
This showcase displays ordinary or every day materials customised into hero characters by the love and effort of our artists. So, if everyone leaving this expo can put in a decent amount of effort and love into their every day lives, they have the potential to become a hero for somebody else.
How has the work been received so far?
The work has been received with fantastic response every year. The amount of interest from media outlets from the Expresso Morning Show, to ETV, Cape Town Magazine, the Open Design Festival, the Mobility Indaba are all a shining example of the demand for a pop-art exhibition of that magnitude. Visitors from all ages can enjoy the pieces for the 4th year in a row, which inspires us to continue with this type of work.
What has been most rewarding about the expo?
The most rewarding part is always the moment when we open up the expo floor for the visitors and seeing the many happy eyes and smiles once they browse the many excellent expo pieces. Another fantastic element is the many connections we as facilitators and curators make with some of the best illustrators and artists South Africa has to offer.
The HERO Expo is showing from 11 – 16 August between 10am – 5pm at The Cape Town City Hall.