Fine artistry is another form of art whereby the artist creates original artworks such as canvasses, sculptures, paintings etc. while drawing inspiration from his/her surroundings including his/her state of mind. It is used mainly to embrace any form of artistic form mostly paintings and sculptures. If done accordingly, it can be a means of sustainability, something seldom heard of especially in the rural areas of South Africa.

Boipelo Mashishi from Pankop in Mpumalanga with some sneakers he has customized. Image: Supplied

Growing up in the villages, there are always those talented kids in school who may be talented in drawing or athleticism but because of the public school system that many of these learners are exposed to, their talents could never be nurtured to reach their maximum potential. It is disheartening that many never fully reach their potential as a result of this system, but there is light at the end of the tunnel as there are those who are starting to realize and making use of their talents.

Meet the 25-year-old Boipelo Mashishi from Pankop; a village in the rural outskirts of Mpumalanga Province, like many of his peers; growing up he never thought that drawing and painting can be used as a source of income. He is a Fine Artist graduate Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), who majored in sculpture and painting. Prior to this, he was working at a butcher because he did not know much about the study programme let alone the opportunities it could bring. He was inspired by another local artist called Thuba Mafoko also from Pankop wo has his own art studio called Mafoko Art (MFKarts), this is the person that introduced, mentored and pushed Boipelo to pursue Fine Arts as both a study programme and profession.

He paints canvasses on all types of sneakers, though the turnaround time is dependent on the material of the sneakers and the artwork itself. Image: Supplied

He graduated from TUT in 2018 and ever since life has never been the same for him. Due to financial difficulties, he had to drop out of graphic designing course after 9 months of learning. The versatile lanky artist from Pankop says he took more positives from that program than negatives because he was exposed to some basic marketing skills which are coming in handy today especially now we are living in the digital age and covid-19, where social media and e-commerce are the in thing. He draws his inspiration from past memories and experiences, nature and technological changes around the world.

With the love of street (hip hop) pop culture being back in by popular demand and the lack of certain artistic services within the villages, Boipelo saw a huge gap in the market. The idea of customizing sneakers through painting. This is a market he wants to exploit to fund his biggest dream which to open a multi-dimensional art practice/studio in his village. He hopes to not only make a living out of customizing sneakers and shoes but also hopes to teach the masses about the different types of arts there out there.

An illustration of some of Boipelo’s work up close, he describes himself as a versatile artist and we can see why. Image: Supplied

When he started with his teachings, many people were not interested but then he proceeded to paint sneakers and using the power of social media platforms many started showing interests and inquiring about his services and that is how it all started for him. He charges anything between R150 – R400.00 depending on the complexity of the drawing, the colors required and the type of shoe it is to be applied on i.e. leather or fabric. So far the support has been amazing. He wishes to collaborate with anyone who shares the same vision, we have seen the likes of Bathu customizing sneakers, we can only hope that one day doors will open up for him. Moreover, he wants to become both a Portraiture and Conceptual Artist in the future.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected his informal business because he was unable to procure materials required to get the job done. He sometimes uses YouTube videos to learn and sharpen his skills.

Click here to listen to the interview he had with Setlhanka.

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