Five Afropunk talents you should know

Words: Edward Kgosidintsi
Photo: Negritude Republic

Graphic artist Modise Sepeng on the new wave of South African creatives

Modise Sepeng is a graphic designer, illustrator and creative entrepreneur who’s making waves in the South African design scene. As a young black designer in an industry historically dominated by white talent, he’s managed to shatter the glass ceiling without compromising his cultural identity. But he’s not alone. Here are five young local designers also making beautiful work with a distinctly African flair in the following areas: 

  • Comics
  • Grafitti
  • Design illustration
  • Animation

Sindiso Nyoni

The comic book has often been as much a political instrument as it is a work of art. Sindiso Nyoni defiantly wields the medium to convey black consciousness imagery. “I know him personally but I knew his work before we met,” says Sepeng. “He’s very unapologetic; he creates this visual language inspired by comics and uses it to tell his stories, African stories. I think he does this in an intelligent way.”

The Architect of SA liberation | Merch artwork for the Sobukwe Trust #RememberAfrica #robertsobukwetrust

A post shared by Sindiso Nyoni (@sindiso) on

Mzwandile Buthelezi

Mzwandile Buthelezi masterfully merges elements of graffiti with design. His iconic cover art for contemporary South African jazz artists, including Benjamin Jephta and Bokani Dyer, has captured the visual essence of their new sounds. “One of the hardest feats to achieve in design is simplicity. His work is full of personality and harmony. It’s simple yet bold,” says Sepeng.

Featured: Satta Design

Satta Design is a design and illustration studio based in Johannesburg headed by Mzwandile Buthelezi. Here's a taste of their portfolio - they supply graphic design, illustration, typography and web development to advertising agencies, corporate and private companies. See more work at or just think of them every time you eat NikNaks.

Thandiwe Tshabalala

Thandiwe Tshabalala has all ingredients it takes to make an impact on the scene as a designer-illustrator: she’s conceptually strong, her style is distinctive and fresh; and her projects are always making a profound and eloquent statement about the black experience. “I follow her quite religiously on Instagram and Tumblr. She’s got a weird African cool to her style. There’s always a twist in her design even though it seems simple and pure,” says Sepeng.

Thandiwe Tshabalala on Twitter


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Vuyo Serote

The Afrocentric sci-fi style of Vuyo Serote’s animation and illustration work helps him stand out from the crowd. “His portfolio is full of high quality work which compels the viewer to imagine an Africa un-colonised and how different its futurism would be,” says Sepeng, whose own work has been described as Afro-futuristic in many ways. “It’s like he’s trying to decode the meaning of blackness” – a task which Sepeng knows all too well and an ability which he therefore admires in his contemporaries.

House of Queen

House Of Queen (HOQ) is a 360 degree grooming service company providing make-up, hair, prosthetic special effects, body painting, styling and creative directorship services to large production houses, event companies, cooperates as well as individuals.

Lungile Mbokane

Mbokane’s work is vivid and tactile thanks to his ability to play with texture by using obscure surfaces in his illustrations. His pieces feel somewhat unfinished yet at the same time they radiate a sense of compositional precision and a painstaking attention to detail. ”Early in his career, he reached out to me for advice on how to improve his technique. I told him to be authentic and find his niche. He’s done that now: his style is unique and thought provoking, while remaining hip,” says Sepeng.

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06 2016 The Red Bulletin 

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