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Visual Artist Earl Abrahams On The Value Of Mentorship In The Creative Industry

Earl Abrahams is a storyteller, lifestyle, and documentary photographer, who enjoys portraiture and street photography. He was born in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, and is currently based in Johannesburg, a city where he refers to as the “Melting Pot of Africa”, with its rich cultural heritage and infrastructural references. He uses his camera to immortalize and tell stories of the South African people.

He currently runs a boutique production company, Uneek Mvmt Media (UMM), which offers photography and videography services to corporates and NGO’s. Mentoring isn’t something completely new to Earl, as he is passionate about social development, NPO’s, and works to combat the growing number of youth unemployment through programmes he has facilitated as a Project Coordinator and Project Manager. This catapulted him into seeing the world, and the way he creates his work, through a different lens.

Abrahams is an official Fujifilm X-Photographer and ambassador in South Africa. He’s worked as a photographer and camera operator to deliver above-the-line and below-the-line marketing campaigns for Fujifilm, SAB, KFC, ALDO, MTN, and Vodacom – to name a few. He’s showcased in Paris at an exhibition titled Createurs en Mouvement which was arranged through the Swedish Institute, and at an online group show during lockdown titled Habitat in 2020 with BKHZ. He vehemently believes in the power of collaboration as a tool to inspire and drive accessibility (to communities) and education. We caught up with him to find out more.

Why did you agree to be a mentor in this programme / why do you think the Artist Alliance initiative is important?

Being given the opportunity to be one of the mentors on the Artist Alliance programme is such a privilege and honour. This initiative is an important one because it gives applicants the opportunity to actualise and strengthen their already brilliant gifts/ideas by gaining insight through the simulation of engaging with real clients/briefs to best prototype their product or service for market. I agreed to be a mentor because I would like to give the chosen applicants a safe space to share their experience and to assist them in connecting the dots for their passions and career paths. In doing so, it will be useful to get them to communicate their definition of success. My approach will include sharing the networks and market knowledge that I gained through my experience as a business owner & artist with the mentees.

I believe that we are all emerging in some shape or form and this an important space for me to also engage in the process of learning; this will encompass learning from my fellow mentors and the mentees of the programme.

What are you looking for when it comes to the applications and mentees / what would make applications stand out to you?

What I am particularly looking for in applicants is work that reflects who they are. We live in a very culturally diverse and rich continent and I would love to see those layers reflected in the applicants applications.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to apply?

Be open to sharing your wildest and craziest ideas. Don’t share what you think we want to hear, share what’s in your heart and mind. Your ideas could change the world!

Are there any specific areas of your craft you want to share knowledge on? Or will it be dependent on who the mentees are?

I think this would be determined by the mentees as everyone comes with their own needs and experiences. However I would like to explore topics (that have aided me in with craft) such as ‘process, building your community, the importance of pivoting and networking’ as themes to explore with the mentees. These themes have allowed me to stay grounded and given me the strength to stay afloat during really tough times.

What are your hopes for the outcome of this programme?

My hope for this programme is that the participants will walk away with confidence in their craft and have the tools to take their product or services to market. I also hope that participants will be able to draw on the strength of everyone participating in the programme in order to develop lasting relationships.

Apply Now

If you would like the opportunity to be mentored by one of these incredible industry leaders, you can apply to be part of the cohort until the end of July 2021.  

To apply or to find out more about the judging and applications criteria, follow this link. In addition to completing an application form, you’ll be required to submit a portfolio of 5 pieces of your best work; a motivational letter or video, telling us why you are the right candidate for the programme as well as an artist’s biography, which sheds some light on your journey and future plans. 

Successful candidates will be selected in early August and will begin the two-month long incubation and mentorship in September. The programme will run until the end of October 2021.

All applications will be assessed by a curatorial panel of experts. Submissions are open from 2 July to 31 July. 

Apply Now.

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