“It is much easier to draw Females than it is to draw Male Characters” – Jason Mphahlele

"It is much easier to draw Females than it is to draw Male Characters" - Jason Mphahlele

By Asina Ndlovu  and  Farah Ahmed

Welcome to Tell! Interviews!

This week, we had a conversation with Jason Mphahlele. Mphalele is an aspiring portrait and visual artist from South Africa. He is big-time into realism portraits and owns a wonder of a startup called Grey arts studios.

-So, tell us Jason, who are your biggest influences in the business?

My biggest influence is a visual artist called Enoch Mlangeni and a portrait artist called Young creator. Their artworks, always inspire me to continue to improve myself and see myself at their level of skill one day.

Nice! Which current art world trends are you following?

I’m following a lot of different kinds of art styles or trends. Some being: portrait digital art, portrait art and contemporary African art. I’m looking for inspiration from those.

-And what attracted you to portrait art specially?

No, it really wasn’t easy. I spent 6 years practicing and learning drawing skills to be where I am today. It’s a long journey to getting to the top of the drawing steps, if I can say that. A tip I would give would be:” don’t rush yourself in the art. Art needs patience and dedication and inspiration first. so take your time to grow. And don’t try to compare yourself with someone who might be better, go with your own pace”.

And what is the hardest part of creating a portrait?

The accuracy, when you have to draw it and make it look exactly like in the picture. That is really the hardest part. And that I’ve had the most trouble with.

So, you know writers have writers block, do you also go through “artist-block” lol if there’s such…? Or can you create a portrait any day, at any time with no problem?

Good question, yeah there definitely is such thing. I think I’m going through that now.
There are days where you wake up and when you try drawing something it just completely goes wrong… But there are days where you just wake up and draw away without a problem.
As you know writer’s block goes for a long time sometimes and that’s me… I’ve been such with a portrait for a few weeks now

How long does the portraits take to finish?

On a normal day it takes less than a week. On a good time, I can finish it in a day or two.

That’s nice! Do you see art in your career in the future? And where do you see yourself in the future?

I definitely do see it in my future.
I see myself owning a big shop. A shop that sells my original drawings and paintings, that sells art decor and furniture that’s inspired by the art we do in the company. Oh, and clothing as well…we will be providing all those things as a brand.

Do you have a “favorite” portrait that you have done which stands out from all the others? Is there like a message behind these portraits?

It is this one,

In this particular one I as the artist leave the interpretation up to viewer.

Here are some of my other works:

This is really good; it doesn’t even look like work any pencil could do! So, I see most of your portraits are women, then men why are this?

Good question.
I don’t really know exactly why but I find myself more interested in the female structure. It feels better and easier to draw a female face because the facial structure is much more smooth and subtle whereas a man’s face is less so it is more rigid in a way.

So, what’s the plan for this year? Plus has the pandemic affected you as an artist?

The pandemic has actually been so good for me as an artist. The way I was sitting at home not doing much wasn’t too much of a problem for me before the pandemic. When it started it opened my eyes that I’m wasting time. and the pressure from all what was happening pushed me to actually want to stand up and do something to get to the next step. So, I was able to start a company of my own… In that time and start working towards growing it. I have been impacted positively instead of negatively.

Oh so that’s how you ended up taking to the streets, to showcase your work in public for more exposure?

It’s really nice to hear that it actually had a position impact, this is rare.

And what’s the negative part of it?

The negative part is that I’m unable to have the business function at its full potential.

Can you tell us more about the company?

Alright. My company is a company that produces and provides portrait artworks, contemporary artworks on canvases for home decor. We also sell custom bedding sets, custom Grey art clothing…
And we also do custom pillow cases with art on it from the artists that are under grey art.

So, will this be like an online store or?

It will be both an online store and a physical store. But for now, everything is working online.

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