#MyJoburg by Masonwabe Ntloko, artist and designer

more than a year ago
The best way to get to know Joburg is to hang out with an insider. In our #MyJoburg series, we speak to people that add uniqueness to this city, and get the lowdown from them on what makes Joburg home.

In our spotlight this week is the ever-restless artist, designer and illustrator Masonwabe Ntloko. Originally from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape, Ntloko now works from his studio in Doornfontein where he creates art and his 'modern-heritage' designs, and can often be found cycling his way through the city. His work has taken South Africa by storm, and he's known for exciting collaborations. His previous homeware collaborations with carpet label Airloom sold out before launch. His latest work is an exhibition of paintings  ILISO LO MOYA at Katmo Gallery in Parkhurst, and the crowds have been flocking, so we thought it was the perfect time to profile one of Joburg's hottest designers.
Masonwabe Ntloko in front of his collaboration with Warner Music Africa.

What inspired you to start designing and making art?
My art is inspired by who I am (umXhosa) and where I come from. And by my personal and spiritual experiences.

You have a seemingly endless pool of creativity to draw from. What keeps you going?
I think what boxes people is trying to find inspiration from those who are in the same industry. I always try to look beyond [that, to] what everyone believes to be traditional art and design.

What challenges have you faced in your journey as an artist and designer?
Like everyone else who doesn't come from a wealthy background, my challenge for most of the journey was lack of capital and support from traditional art institutions. But now I've developed a system where I can function without them.

How has living in Joburg influenced your art?
I think it's informed how I should go about doing things. But the art itself hasn't been influenced.
Ntloko's Nonqaba round rug with Airloom.

As a frequent collaborator, what is the collaboration work of which you are most proud?
My first rug drop with Airloom, that collaboration was proof to me that my ideas are worth exploring.

If you could choose any brand or person to collaborate with?
[Local or global homeware stores] @home or H&M Home. I want to go deeper into homeware and that's the best entry for the South African market.

You've worked on textiles, paper and canvas? Which is your favourite and why? 
All of them really, for me it's not about which material I like using, but which one makes sense for what I am trying to do at that time.
Masonwabe Ntloko in the studio.

What brought you to Joburg and what makes you stay here?
I think Joburg is the only place in South Africa where you can bypass systems that were traditionally there to hold you back to build a solid, reputable brand.

Home is...
Dutywa, Eastern Cape.

Your favourite Joburg suburb, and why you choose it?
Rosebank. It's a safe and clean environment with everything you need.

What 3 things should a visitor not leave Joburg without seeing or experiencing?
Kwa Mai Mai, 44 Stanley and Gold Reef City.

What’s the one thing no one would expect to hear about Joburg?
People here can be very kind and supportive.

The most underrated Joburg sight or experience?
Inner city cycling.
Salvation Café's relaxed atmosphere makes it ideal for a weekend breakfast or light lunch.

The most memorable meal you have eaten in Joburg?
A burger from Salvation Café.

If you could buy one Joburg building which would it be?
Hallmark House.

What makes someone a Joburger?
Going to Kitcheners in Braamfontein.
Grab your bike on the First Thursday of every month for Critical Mass, a social ride through the city.

On a weekend in Joburg you’ll find me...
On my bike cycling around the city.

What do you love most about Joburg?
The sense of community.

What do you least like about Joburg?
The crime and potholes.

Your number one tip for a first-time visitor to Joburg?
Don't trust anyone.

What's happening in Joburg right now that you think everyone should know about?
The rise of young brands and the communities they are building.

Three words that describe this city.
Brutal, interesting, dangerous.

Check out our previous #MyJoburg interview with queen of fashion Catherine Gaeyla for more insights into the city from its locals.


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