“There aren’t that many platforms that support African creatives,” Dillion Phiri tells me on an anemic winter afternoon in Cape Town. “Sure, there are plenty of blogs that talk about young creatives, but we wanted to go beyond that and be a springboard for young creatives to establish themselves,” he gestures emphatically with his hands to emphasise his point.
Dillion (26) is the founder and creative director of Creative Nestlings. Founded in 2011, the Cape Town-based company connects emerging artists (designers, photographers, writers and those from other creative disciplines) and allows them to showcase their work. “We connect and nurture young creatives on the African continent, but we also support them on their creative journey,” he explains. “Whether that means locating a space to exhibit their work or sharing information on how to get funding, we want to support them throughout the entire process.” He cites a recent example where someone in Durban reached out to him, seeking advice on how to start a career in photography. “My job is to find someone in Durban who’s willing to teach him photography.”
Dillion, who now runs Creative Nestlings with his wife Nokulunga, also curates content across the company’s social platforms. Be it Instagram, Facebook or their website, the company’s online platforms feature photography, video and writing that captures South Africa’s creative energy. One of the website’s running features is a series of profiles called “Conversations on Creativity”, which is a series of interviews with prominent South African creatives. But “Conversations on Creativity” isn’t just restricted to the internet. The company regularly hosts monthly “Conversations on Creativity” discussions in Cape Town at which established creative professionals interact face-to-face with aspiring creatives.
“It’s a simple format: we bring in industry professionals and they have a conversation with the audience about the ins and outs of the South African industry,” he explains. “The idea is that people have direct access to industry professionals. So it’s not a presentation, it’s a conversation. Both parties have an opportunity to respond to each other.” The sessions are free and have featured Zimbabwean illustrator Fort Rixon, acclaimed visual artist Loyiso Mkize and popular Cape Town-based musician Nonku Phiri. The most recent event featured world-renowned Instagrammer Gareth Pon and was hosted at lifestyle boutique Boaston Society on Cape Town’s famous Long Street. Elisha Mpofu – an award-winning creative entrepreneur and the founder of Boaston Society – also featured on the panel.
Elisha recently showed us his #BossFace alongside other young Cape Town entrepreneurs here.
“I was talking about the state of the fashion and retail industry,” Elisha says, by way of explaining his presentation, “but mostly looking at how collaboration could advance the industry. This is a pretty competitive industry – it’s not viable for people to work as individuals. I’d say me and Dillion share the same mission in that regard. We both encourage people in the creative sector to get in touch with each other,” he concludes.
Dillion and his team have big plans for the remainder of the year. This September they launch “YoungxCreative”, a bi-annual magazine that focuses on being young and creative on the continent. Each issue will focus on a different country on the continent, documenting how young people use creative mediums to share their identities. The company is also working on growing “The Nest” – their subscription-based, continent-wide network of young creatives. They also plan on launching the “Nestling Awards”, which will celebrate creative talent in Africa. In short, Creative Nestlings wants to continue supporting young creatives across the continent. “Look at our youth unemployment figures; they’re horrendous. We want to use creativity as a way of solving that,” Dillion concludes.
All images supplied by Creative Nestlings.
To find out more about Creative Nestlings, head over to their website.
This post was originally published at the Red Bull Amaphiko website.