As commercial as art can be, it’s also still a very niche market in South Africa. With that comes more than just the idea of “pretty pictures.” Art entails concepts and perspectives. One perspective in particular comes from an amazing collective that goes by the moniker “I See a Different You”. The trio, who are originally from Soweto, portray South Africa as they see it (not from the outside looking in). Founded by Justice Mukheli, Innocent Mukheli and Vuyo Mpantsha, the group later welcomed Neo Mashego, Sabelo Mthlanga and Ogamazaza Yokwa into the fold. Through photography they show people how there’s more to Africa than dusty, poverty stricken townships and starving children. They show young free intellectuals. I hung out with three of them to find out more about one of the hottest art collectives at the moment.
What is ‘I See a Different You’? Tell us more…
Vuyo and Innocent: [We are] an art movement, turned business. Our aim was to motivate people to show who you are and where you’re from with pride… [And] how you don’t have to be from a cheesy background to be proud of whom you are.
When you had your first exhibition, what do you wish you had known then that you know now?
Vuyo : For me everything was perfect. Perfect timing… To see and learn. I don’t think I would have done anything better. It was a learning curve… Progression.
What is your preferred medium?
Innocent: None. We don’t like boxing ourselves in. There’s the photography and Vuyo is learning how to etch. It’s the idea that determines the medium. It depends on the idea and it leads to the execution.
So, who are your favourite artists?
Vuyo: Plenty… I look up to a lot of artists, but I’d have to say it’s bra Hugh and the likes of Alfred Khumalo and his crew.
Innocent: For me, I look up to a lot of graphic artists. My favourite is ISO50 or Scott Hansen – he mixes photography and graphics. But there are lot… Dave Kitsie, who’s a printmaker and Leonard Ddombo, who is a Zambian musician.
Where do you sell your works?
Vuyo: We don’t usually sell our artworks but we recently sold one in Japan.
What was the first art piece you made?
Innocent: It’s hard to say because we shot a thousand photos before posting or exhibiting…
And where do you get your inspiration from?
I See a Different You: It comes from everywhere. Where you’re from, Africa, the people, how we grew up, music. From anything and everything, to something unique and unseen. It’s about embracing Africanism.
So what would you guys say is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?
Vuyo: To start, to come up with an idea on the spot…
What is your favourite art piece that you’ve made?
Vuyo: It’s hard say. They are all different. I couldn’t like some and not others.
Innocent: It’s like having to choose between your kids.
What do you get up to when you are not creating?
Vuyo: Nothing else… Unless we’re partying. But, we always discuss work. When partying siya beda (we just mess around). Zingawa nje (something would go down), we just love to laugh.
What are you working on right now?
Innocent: We are just restructuring our company.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Innocent: Vuyo sings.
Vuyo: Innocent loves speakers…
Innocent: I saw these Herman Kardon earphones and I craved them like a druggie.
Any tips for inspiring others?
I See a Different You: When working on something, push it to the fullest. You are your own PR strategist and everything else. When you work, make sure you share it with the public.
With that said, how do we get a hold of you?
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