Sunday 9 March 2014

Profile: Russell Fatlip Abrahams x Design Indaba 2014 | Department of Arts & Culture Enables Design

I have attended Design Indaba Conference Simulcasts in Johannesburg twice before but this year I got the opportunity to pack up and head for Cape Town in order to attend the real deal. Attending the event in a physical form gave me the opportunity, not only to listen to the speakers but to also experience the Design Indaba Expo. The Design Indaba Expo is a mix bag of various design disciplines, creativity and entrepreneurship contained within one huge expo room.

One of Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) involvement this year yet again was the Emerging Creatives Programme. Nurturing and developing local talent is one of the department’s focal areas in an effort to stimulate the creative economy. This year, the department supported forty young designers to showcase their work at the Design Indaba Expo.

The second person I was drawn to their work and had a chat with, was a young man with the boy-next-door good looks and an endearing big bright smile. Russell Fatlip Abrahams; a 21 years old, Cape Town based Illustrator (Graphic Designer).

‘Fatlip’ is quite a peculiar name, start talking for my better comprehension...

Back in school my friends always teased me about my bottom lip being big. Some of them called me diklippe (Afrikaans for fat lips) and it kinda just stuck since then. I changed it to English and it's been a fun nickname ever since. Somehow it became my artist name, which is pretty funny.

The artwork collection you showcased at Design Indaba Expo, was it from your graduation portfolio or fresh material you came up with for the expo? What is the name of the illustration collection called or was it just a few work pieces you made over the time?

The majority of the artworks I showcased were created especially for the Indaba. I showcased 3 series: The Tasty Kids, The Siesters and The Totem series. I just started my third year so I had to burn the midnight oil trying to get them all ready. I'm really happy about the way they turned out though. Plus, the response was awesome.

As a young emerging South African creator (designer) what are some of your biggest frustrations about the industry you operate in. What is it you would like to see change and what is your solution recommendation?

Personally it feels like the industry is divided. In Cape Town, people are way too cliquey so it can be hard at times to just approach someone without receiving the cold shoulder. I think it's time creatives from different disciplines come together through collaboration to create and innovate. Also, creatives (young and old) need to share their knowledge with each other as it really helps the community grow. 

Was this your first time exhibiting at the Design Indaba under the Emerging Creatives' Programme and how has the whole experience helped you and exposed you most to.  As the expo ends today what are you taking with you that you will apply later on to your design business model?

It was my first time exhibiting as an Emerging Creative. As a young creative the experience was really amazing. It was pretty surreal showcasing my work alongside so many other people who I've looked up to, for over the past years. With regards to business; I learnt just how important it is to network with people. I've met so many people over the past few days it's pretty overwhelming.

 Do you feel that the Department of Arts and Culture’s Emerging Creatives programme at Design Indaba is enough as a government’s initiative to support South African creative talent?

Yes, I think the Emerging Creatives programme is great!  It's a huge platform to showcase one's work. It provides the opportunity to really get into the industry and meet industry people. The Emerging Creatives programme is something all passionate young creatives should try to be a part of. The experience is mind blowing. 

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