Drawing on Local Flavour

Drawing on Local Flavour


Image: KZN-based designer and Champion design winner, Mncedy Hlophe

Hey Mncedy! Congrats on winning our t-shirt design competition and being chosen as this month’s iKasi Original… Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Agrippa Mncedisi Hlophe, I was born and raised is a small town called Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal. I grew up surrounded by people who could draw and every day when I got home after school, I would draw before doing my homework.

After matric I left Port Shepstone to study graphic design at Durban University of Technology (DUT) where I fell in love with illustration and spent most of my time finding my own design style. My study reflexively explored the development of a personal design style specifically influenced by South African design trends and Zulu patterns.

When I graduated in 2013, I was told that there are no illustration jobs in Durban and that I will never make a living with illustration. But I didn’t give up. I kept pushing and today and I’m a graphic designer at one of the world’s leading agencies – TBWA.


Image: Mncedy Hlophe looks to local cultures for design inspiration

Respect! So what does a graphic designer do and why do you enjoy doing it?

I like to think of myself as a visual communicator. I specialise in design, illustrations and pattern design. I feel like I was born to be an artist and it’s a talent that I was given by God, so I have to use it to the fullest.

Inspiring stuff, man. What motivates you to keep your hustle going?

Getting to the next level. I challenge myself a lot. Most of my art is inspired by African beadwork, which plays a major part in most African cultures and sometimes I modify them to give them a futuristic look. I also draw inspiration from African culture, design trends and patterns. I truly feel we should protect our cultures and languages, because Africa is beautiful and it is the future.

Image: Designed by Mncedy Hlophe

We know the road to success isn’t easy… What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your journey so far?

I’ve been trying to start my own business, focusing on clothing, textile design and illustrations. As a visual communicator who is business minded, the biggest challenge is getting my name out there. Entering competitions is one way to do it and I hope to get more exposure this way, so I can collaborate with big brands and get my own business off the ground.


We know big things are coming your way, Mncedy! But now for the big question… What does iKasi Original mean to you?

Most people do not see art as a career. They see it as a hobby and because of that, they will try to break your spirit. One thing I’ve realised is that a lot people go to their final resting places with incredible talents and skills which were never used. To me an iKasi Original is someone who does not give up on their dreams, but goes the extra mile to make them come true.


Feel like finding out more about Mncedy? You can see more of his work here:

Instagram: mncedyhlophe