Fhatuwani Mukheli, a man who wears different creative hats has always been known for his photography and creative agency I See A Different You. Mukheli’s journey in the creative industry began almost twelve years ago at Draft FCB, an advertising agency based in Johannesburg where he was an art director. Although his walk of life led him to the advertising industry, Mukheli has always had an interest in illustration, drawing and fine art as a whole.
Mukheli’s desire to create began at a very young age, his interest in art was sparked after seeing his artistic father draw. “My mom was in Limpopo with my brother and my sister, and it was just us at home. My dad was playing jazz at home and having his drink, I think whiskey – and he drew a portrait of himself, me and my twin brother. He put it on a sleeve of a cassette and I’ve always used that as reference that I can draw – because my dad can draw,” he says.
“That way, I became confident in drawing and I pursued it, it was something that made me feel good, you know? It still makes me feel good, but at that time it was one thing I could do that most kids couldn’t do, it was my comfortable place,” Mukheli adds.
In 2010, Mukheli and his two business partners founded I See A Different You, a creative agency and production house that focuses on content creation, including film, photography, and music. Within this creative agency, Mukheli and his business partners execute their vision and passion to upskill young, talented individuals within townships such as Soweto.
“We pride ourselves in telling African stories, we are a true young creative agency that is grooming the most amazing talent, and we produce authentically African content. We are an agency that is disruptive in the industry right now because we are none traditional, and we are giving opportunities to younger kids like ourselves from Soweto or other township who didn’t have the opportunities to go for formal education. We want to expose more people to the corporate world. ” he says.
While focusing on growing his business and mastering the ins-and-outs of entrepreneurship, Mukheli neglected a particular artistic side of him for six years.
Mukheli started sharing a series of drawings on his Instagram. When asked what inspired him to begin drawing again, he explained that it is an activity he finds very therapeutic. “My influence on starting to expose my artistic side again was based on the era we are in. This is an era of a lot of mental health and wellness, and I found that being in business is draining. I find that drawing is an outlet for me where I can release a lot of stress or just escape,” Mukheli explains.
Seemingly having an interest in drawing portraits, Mukheli has shared that the many faces he puts into drawings are in fact pictures he collected while he was an art director. “I love portraits. You know, being an art director – I like to call myself an art director. Back in the day, I used to have a folder with cool things that I like, and in those folders, I’d also find faces or things that are interesting for me to draw and I’d just put them away. I’d go through them again, take one photo and draw it,” he says. “So it takes me as the same amount of time to find what I want to draw as it would take me to draw it. As a photographer as well, I don’t like drawing my photos that much, I feel like I want to separate my photography from my art. Hence I find things online or recreate things,” he continues.
Mukheli expressed that his work is highly influenced by mixed media, fine arts, realism, crosshatch, and design.
From running a business to photography and creating art pieces, Mukheli finds ways to connect his many careers as he believes that they are all, in one way or another, intertwined. “One thing I realized is I shouldn’t have stopped drawing, art is like music, it’s all elements coming together to make one thing. All those things feed the hunger in me, the soul. When I look at my business, it feeds my soul because it’s my art – seeing how business works and the challenge of learning things on this basis is interesting for me. It’s the same as art when I discover how to crosshatch, how to draw an eye better and what makes it look more real. All those things are one, I blend everything.”
Follow Fhatuwani on IG for more of his artwork.