A Love Letter To Blackness and Representation with Halls Mentee Samela Hlophe

In a society where unfortunately Eurocentric beauty standards continuously thrive, not only is it imperative for artists to ‘reflect the times’ as Nina Simone said, but to disturb the very times we’re living in. As an avid music and culture lover, Samela Hlophe’s illustrations are a love-letter to blackness and representation. He talks to us about how meeting his fellow mentees and how illuminating meeting Karabo Poppy was, who and what inspired him to start creating, and his aims for society.

What helps you focus on an off day? 

Music, it helps me tap into a mental zone where I can create & everything else ceases to exist.

What is the caffeine that keeps you going? 

Culture keeps me going. From traditional culture, music culture, fashion, to the beauty of African people and last but not least art itself.

How did you know it was time to breathe new life into your passion project and pursue it as a career? 

While doing my last year of varsity in 2017, I designed a poster for Poetry Africa. My poster was chosen out of 33 students in my class & after seeing my design on full display all over Durban street poles I knew then and there that the sky is the limit. Since then I’ve been creating and pushing myself to be the best I can be as an artist, and to always dream big.

What was the highlight of this experience?

Firstly, it has to be meeting Karabo Poppy in person and engaging in conversations with her and soaking in all she has to teach us. Secondly, meeting my fellow crazy and talented mentees. Lastly, experimenting with hydro dipping for the shoes was an amazing & fun experience.

Describe your work in five words/ways




Melanin orientated


Who has been your biggest influences been and how do you translate that into your work? 

My sister has been my biggest influence from the jump. She taught me how to draw while I was a kid and she inspired me to draw my portraiture illustrations. She was dark when she was young & she did not like herself because of what society deemed beautiful was more lighter skinned people. So thanks to her I now create beautiful melanin orientated illustrations as I aim to broaden beauty standards.

What are your plans for the rest of 2021?

To accumulate as many W’s as possible as an independent creative. I would love to work with other big brands, travel the country & even the world while doing what I love. I am definitely looking to collaborate more with other talented creatives this year & ultimately take my brand (Sam Artworks) beyond imaginable heights.

Watch this space to see more from Halls’ Whatsapp chatbot extending the knowledge shared to the general public and giving YOU a chance be mentored, and inspired to breathe life into YOUR passions with Karabo Poppy.

Halls is dedicated to helping the world breathe better. With Cola Burst and Ice Tea Zing, you’ll have the breath, conviction and determination you need to live life to the fullest and achieve your aspirations, whatever they might be.

So go on, Mzansi: Breathe for it #UngapheliUmoya 

Between 10 and 5