Yogi Sip Young Creators’ Network Top 15: Meet Zico Mthethwa

“I have learned one of many ways to expose and challenge yourself as an artist is by entering competitions that aim to expose talents. Therefore, I entered to challenge my skills, with the hope that my work is exposed to a wider public domain,” says Yogi Sip Young Creators’ Network top 15 candidate, Zico Mthethwa.

The Pietermaritzburg-based illustrator was selected from over 600 creatives from across the country who submitted their best work to take part in this year’s Young Creators’ Network competition. The selected artists stand a chance to design Yogi Sip’s packaging for 2021 as well as a cash prize of R20 000.

While acknowledging that working with the well-known brand may open a number of doors for him and strengthen his portfolio, Mthethwa shares that being part of the top 15, as an upcoming designer, is already a win for him as it will expose him and the work that he creates to a much wider audience.

“I am hoping to get exposure as an upcoming designer. I am hoping to get my name known in South Africa as a designer who creates work that even Yogi Sip SA finds more than worthy to put on their packaging.

As an animation fan, the illustrator’s interest in art grew after he had realised his desire to recreate the cartoon characters from some of the shows he would watch growing up. In grade three, he began tracing out these characters, paying much focus on Dragon Ball Z’s lead character, Goku.

“I recall how my mum bought me brown covers for my books and this friend at school had the latest cartoon covers of ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ I browed them and spent the week drawing out my own cover that looked like my friend’s. That actually made my books easily standout to the teachers,” he shares.

Eager to explore his talents and childhood interest further, he went on to study Graphic Design in university.

Mthethwa’s illustrations draw inspiration from the work of African American artist, Ernie Barnes, whose work uniquely captures the energy and lives of fellow African Americans.

“One of his works The Sugar Shack (1971) inspired me to create my work Jika (2020), where I wanted to express the energy, diversity, and the freedom the generation of today has. We can all party together no matter our sexual orientations, color, and beliefs.”

He also includes Cape Town-based illustrator, Russell ‘Yay Abe’ Abrahams as an artist who influences his style of design.

Speaking of the challenges he has been faced with during the pandemic, he says: “As a postgraduate [student], my studies have been challenged; the new studying set up and the process has rather been unsettling. On the brighter side, I have also been exposed to other design-related opportunities and bettering my skills. I use Behance or Instagram to find inspiration and what is trending in the digital world,”

Mthethwa also shares that he looks forward to gaining financial freedom and creating higher quality work without any limitations.

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