Nyoni works at Luma Animation Studios in Johannesburg and is also a freelance illustrator. A discussion with colleagues on individual identity and culture reminded him of the hip hop phrase ‘Keeping it one hunnit’ – a term that expresses the notion of ‘keeping it real’ and staying true to oneself – and led him to create a poster series of the same name celebrating African culture and individuality.
Nyoni has created portaits depicting people from the Masai tribe in Kenya, The La Sape (Les Sapeurs) community of the Congo and the Yoruba community from Nigeria. For him, the project celebrates ‘what it means to be bold, beautiful, courageous, individual and African.’
“I normally look at a lot of images for referencing,” says Nyoni. “This helps establish the visual language I am going for. From there I sketch out my ideas using pencil and paper, I then use Adobe Illustrator to clean up my line work and add colour. Finally, I add textures and touch-ups using Adobe Photoshop.”
Nyoni says he would like to display his prints in an exhibition. When creating the series, he says he illustrated cultures and subcultures that he was visually drawn to – “I felt their expression of colours and textures were beautifully combined. When I first learned about them, I remember thinking how bold, expressive and proud they appeared. When the idea to create the series came up I naturally gravitated towards these cultures … purely because they made a lasting impression on me,” he adds.
Nyoni says he is inspired everything from music and film “to the way I feel about news headlines” and says his religion is a constant influence on his work.
Discussing upcoming projects, he says: “I am currently working on a series that depicts my interpretation of the idea of ‘Mama Africa’ – I have interpreted it a three sisters as opposed to one mother.”