by Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) A collective of Sowetan-born creatives are telling it like it really is, as I discovered when I spent time with Justice and Innocent Mukheli and Vuyo Mpantsha. Started as a photographic blog, the I See A Different You collective aims to change the world’s view of Africa from the negative to the positive.
“As Africans, our story has always been told by others and as I See A Different You we want to tell our own stories through art,” they explain. And, as I’ve just discovered, the trio’s blog has now morphed into a multifaceted enterprise. Young and gifted, Mpantsha and the twins are definitely killing it!
Veli Ngubane: Fast forward to the beginning — how did ISADY You come to being?
I See A Different You: ISADY started out as a blog in 2011. We realised that the Soweto that we grew up in was not the Soweto that was being portrayed to the world. Soweto was synonymous with poverty, gangsterism and the violence of 16 June. Yet, our experience was of a vibrant place filled with hope, tenacity and people creating a different future for themselves. It is that image, and that message, that we wanted to put out to the world. And so the blog allowed us to tell our own stories of love, community and a creative youth.
VN: How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be a creative?
ISADY: Our parents were just so overjoyed that we had secured jobs, that it was only later that they inquired what we actually did!
VN: What advice would give to youngsters wanting to break into the industry?
ISADY: In this industry, you must be willing and ready to sacrifice (almost) everything to be excellent. And from there, it’s important to understand that the better you become, the more the pressure mounts — so learn to use that pressure to drive your creativity.
VN: What characteristics do you need to have to succeed in the advertising industry?
ISADY: Team work! A self-centred attitude will get you nowhere. In advertising, everything you do is hotter when it’s done as a team and successes are sweeter when celebrated with a team. Ask for advice from anyone and everyone, no matter what level you are at in your career. A second or third opinion may change everything.
VN: Any interesting hobbies/second jobs/bits of information that make you pop as individuals?
ISADY: Between us, we have a multitude of interests and hobbies — music-making, dj’ing, singing, film-making and illustration. Oh and we can pop out a somersault if required.
VN: Please would you list two or three pieces of work you have been involved in?
VN: ISADY started as a photographic blog to change the negative portrayal of Soweto. Have you seen any change since you started? What have been the most-memorable images you’ve taken?
ISADY: When we started the blogging scene was fairly new and not a lot of people were doing it on the continent. After putting our images out there, we started receiving messages from people telling us how much we inspired them to tell their own stories of where they come from. And now so many people are sharing their stories in unique ways.
It’s so hard to choose an image; we all have our own memorable images.
VN: ISADY has grown during the past few years and is more than a photographic blog, tell us more about ISADY now.
ISADY: Initially. ISADY started off as a blog and passion project. Today, it has developed into a multifaceted business. The business deals with production on the one side, specialising in film, photography and ideation for brands and clients. The other side of the business allows us to keep fuelling our passions through hosting exhibitions, events, music performances and special projects. Check out Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram.
VN: Do you have any new exciting projects you working on at the moment that you can share with us?
ISADY: We are working on an exhibition entitled, “Kings and Queens of South Africa” — it is a selection of portraits of the members of the royal houses throughout South Africa.
Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) entered the world of advertising with a passion after completing his BSocSci (law, politics and economics) at the University of Cape Town and a post-graduate marketing diploma at Red & Yellow, where he also currently serves as advisory board chairman. He is the chief creative officer and founding partner of one of the fastest-growing agencies in the country, AVATAR. A full-service marketing agency with digital at the core, its clients include Brand South Africa, FOX Africa, National Geographic, SAA and Chevron. Veli hails from Kosi Bay in the rural KwaMhlaba Uyalingana area of KZN. In his monthly column “Young, Gifted & Killing It”, he profiles award-winning, kick-ass black creative talent in South Africa.