Tuesday, November 15, 2011

JUSTICE RENDANI MUKHELI - INTERVIEW

Photo by Carl Willoughby

Recently I got together with long time homie and friend Justice for an interview. Initially the interview was meant for a fashion brand but things happened along the way that prevented it being hosted on the brand's platforms. Now the interview couldn't go without being put on somewhere so I remembered that there was my ever so famous blog to put it on - AHA!!!
Justice and I go wayyyy back and I mean as far back as the heydays of skate wear in Soweto. Remember that? When dudes wore those gigantic sneakers in order to pull off the incredibly alternative fashion look. Not I... Neither did he.
We've been back and forth since and he's done a lot for himself in that time and is now rolling with the big dogs. I'm proud to say that my dude is an art director at Ogilvy but that hasn't been the only big step he's taken. Justice now dons an entirely new fashion and this is what we got down to speaking about when we met...

Photo by Apathy

In asking Justice who he would say he is he went at it like this: 'Art lover and all round artist from the hood, Pimville in Soweto.' Interestingly he told me that he has a strong fine art backgroung which struck confusion in me as I've always known otherwise.
You can imagine how this can affect me when I'm on a market rooftop in Braamfontein with the heat making uncomfortable contact with my skin. Anyway I persevered as this being one of Justice's traits to his work which has led him to develop a goal system along with his discipline. These being two incredibly important things to harness a career in advertising was not an easy path to embark on too.
Throwing some glances around I spot some ad industry mates of his looking ever so suave among the other stylish patrons of the Neighbourgoods Market. I continued asking, 'You had a robust start to your style of art yet you've adapted it to the popular and commercial industry. What drove you in that direction?' Now I asked my homie this cause back in the day in Pimville I had seen his *chromies and *throw ups (grafitti speak) on peoples walls and close to his house. Imagine my surprise when he answers.
'I actually started off with fine art.' My head drew back and I gasped. 'Then where did the grafitti come from?' I asked.
He replied, 'I used to take the train to school to Langlaagte and that's where I came across grafitti. On the side of trains. When I started *writing I bit the tag Vax13.' We both shared a statement about how when many people start off they would copy another person or mash up different styles from their idols. 
'I later started using the tag J3rd,' he continued. 'Grafitti introduced me to design but in a weird turn of events. Mzwandile Buthelezi was an inspiration for it all and a link to our (Justice and Innocent) design.' In further explaining Mzwandile's involvement in his life it was his computer he was fixing after it had crashed that he discovered design work from Mzwandile. Justice, again, copied from another artist on path to a new direction in his life.
This course led him to encounter Neo Mashego which ultimately led him to his current road of travel in his career - advertising.
Having seen Justice over the years, I now saw an ever so confident young man determined to make it... The camera over the shoulder, the tailored clothing, accessories, footwear and how he articulates himself. 
'Yo Justice, I see you've changed the threads 180 my man...' He beams knowing that we both no longer entertain don the baggy look. I slip in a complimenting smile in agreement. 
'My line of work forced me to see things differently. I'm surrounded by great people (role models) who I want to be as equally great and I want that to reflect in my dress sense. The balance also comes in at the place I live in because I excel at work that should reflect at my house. The lifestyle too has to take a turn for the better too. All round flyness.'
I grin like a school kid buying candy when Justice answered. What he says resonates so much with me as this was a conversation I once had with Loyiso Gola. Shout out to the brother Loy. 
For a stylish brother to keep looking so dapper where would he draw his inspiration and fashion cues. 'My brother Fhatuwani my fashion sense. He freaks it like no other.' 
Did he just say that? Sped through my head reminding myself that it's him I'm interviewing... 'My dad is my inspiration too especially with the Sophiatown style of dress. I mix the new styles with my dad's Sophiatown look and end up with what you'd see.'
Who wasn't inspired by either an uncle or father being a young Black male in South Africa??? My point exactly. We then took off to other matters quick after as we wanted to hear what we had both been caught up in for this long.

Photo by 8M

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