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Richard Average On love, art and mental health

Richard Average, a 25-year-old Cape Town-based illustrator, utilizes a skilled and free use of colour in his work, which not only reflects his personality but also pays homage to Cape Town’s dynamism. He comes from Macassar, a small town on the outskirts of Cape Town; a community that he reveres because of how much it taught him about life, and about himself. Richard began drawing at the age of 6-7 and he was inspired by his older brother who is a fine artist, and his enthusiasm for drawing spurred him to pursue art. He enjoys painting, skating, fashion, radical acts of self-love, and his partner. He studied graphic design at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Salt River, where he discovered his passion for illustration, drawing, art, and cartoons in his second year, as well as learning about the state of his mental health. His creative process includes writing down notes on a piece he’s working on, sketching, and refining it.

What Inspires You?

“What ultimately inspires me is the pursuit of imperfection, and knowing that no matter how perfect I would want something to be creatively; a piece of work, a piece of art, it will never get there so pursuing the imperfections in my idea of imperfection is what will always inspire me. Accepting and growing and taking advantage of them.” 

POC + Mental Health

Growing up without adequate access to mental healthcare facilities, being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and coming from a community where there is a lack of understanding of such issues made navigating life and ultimately coping with his mental health challenging. This undoubtedly impacted his artistic endeavours and eventually his pocket – it’s a tough position when your source of income is based on your creativity, and your creativity is influenced by a variety of factors from the outside. His diagnosis taught him a valuable lesson, but it also relieved him of the guilt because he realised that many of the difficulties he faced were not his fault. Because anxiety can easily morph into depression, he discovered that doing things that are simple for him, such as keeping a tidy room, allows him to feel in control of his surroundings and relaxes his mind.

Highlights from the Artist Alliance Incubation Program

He was able to think like an entrepreneur and see his art as a business thanks to the Artist Alliance Incubation program. Meeting other creative workers, relating to them – their trials and triumphs – and establishing a network was one of his favorite things to do. It instilled in him the importance of learning and connecting.

Advice For Young Coloured Boys?

“I would tell young coloured boys that you have something that a lot of people are trying to buy, learn, get, and they can’t. You have something to offer, a gift people are trying to get, don’t let anyone take it away because you were born with it – find it and hone it: be confident, be yourself, be professional and get the job done, be yourself, talk how you wanna- say awe!”

On His Favourite Body of Work

His favourite body of work is the one he created about him and his partner; he enjoys the way the composition works and believes he now has a better understanding of colour, textures, and depth in the space between. The piece is an illustration that depicts how they met through Bumble, an online dating platform. It also represents his progress as an illustrator.

What’s Next, Richard?

“Yoh, finishing the art program, I don’t know what’s next but I’ll be creating more constant work, more me, and moving towards building myself. Collabs and a few other things right now my goal is to complete the program. Getting paid for my work to help me be more sustainable”



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