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15 Questions With Andile Bokweni

Introduction:

If this is the first post you are reading from me, I would like to introduce you to the series.

G. D. Anderson said “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” 

This perception of strength she described is the reason I am creating this interview series.  Each article is structured to highlight the strengths, talents, and business pursuits of inspiring women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. 

Thank you for traveling around the world with me as we celebrate these women’s accomplishments.

Andile Bokweni:

Today we are traveling to South Africa to learn about Andile Bokweni – known on instagram as @byAndileh. I am so excited to introduce you to Andile because she is an incredibly talented digital artist. 

In this post we will be discussing Andile’s creative process, women’s rights in South Africa, and more!

15 Questions with Andile Bokweni

Q. 1.  Where in South Africa did you grow up?

My dad was a prison warden at Leeuwkop correctional services; prison officials along with their families were provided with housing. The houses were located within the prison premises, however, they are not in close proximity of the actual prison.

So, I grew up in a small community where everyone knew each other and seeing guards with K9 dogs escorting prisoners in and out of the prison was everyday life for us. 

The place was farm like with open fields, lakes, parks with pools, and a lot of fruit trees; we never got bored. Despite what felt like a serious environment, we had a playful and happy childhood. 

Q. 2. Do you feel like where you were raised has had an influence on your art?

Yes, I was raised in a controlled environment that had a lot of rules for obvious reasons. Every house looked the same, we all went to the same schools, shopped at the same stores; it was very uniformed.

And when I started building my online presence, I tried working with a colour palette to create an aesthetic and I struggled. I didn’t like everything looking the same even though I was getting commission work and growing a following I felt stuck. Also, I’m naturally drawn to open fields and spaces because I like the feeling of being free.

Q. 3. Did you always want to be an artist, or were you pursuing a different path when you were in school?

Yes, I have always wanted to be an artist; however, not in this medium. I wanted to tell stories through film so after high school I studied film and television production.

Q. 4. Did you feel supported for wanting to pursue your dreams? Or did you feel like you were going against your family and friends expectations for you by choosing your own path?

Art in my family is not considered a viable career path. I do think my family supported me in the best way that they can, but I still felt them push me towards a career path that they felt was more sustainable financially like getting a government job. 

Q. 5. What is your creative process/what inspires your art?

I find inspiration in breaking the mould of space, gender and race. The “norm” when it comes to black female representation, I feel it is always limited and restrictive.

My creative process changes based on how I relate to the subject/muse and the space that I am in.

Q. 6. What tools/supplies do you use?

Currently I’m using a drawing and painting application called procreate. 

Q. 7. Are there any business ventures you’d love to pursue in the future?

Yes, currently in South Africa there is a small industry for individuals and/or artists and I would like to provide an affordable and easily accessible service. When I decided I wanted to make a living of my art I found it was way easier to find American based companies that help artists sell their artwork, than finding South African companies. 

Q. 8. What is it like being a female artist in South Africa?

I exist in a digital space. Digital art amongst the black community is almost insignificant. They think I use an app and my art is a result of a filter similar to snap chat. So, my challenge as a black south African female artist is to be acknowledged as a digital artist. 

Q. 9. Are there any misconceptions people have about South Africa that you’d like to set the record straight on?

We have a lot of social ills and injustices that occur on a daily base, especially gender-based crimes. South Africa can be relatively safe with some places experiencing low to no crime at all. However, the countries PR is there is no safe place in South Africa, that’s the misconception I would like to rectify. 

Q. 10. What is something you wish people knew about South Africa?

There is an African proverb translated in English that says “even at a funeral there is laughter.” South Africans embody that and find humour in every situation. We are a very light hearted nation.

Q. 11. We’ve come a long way when it comes to women’s rights, but I still feel that we have so far to go. What is something you’d like to see improve for women?

Unfortunately, equality in the work spaces is still an issue. Women have to work twice as hard to prove that they are qualified for that position and yet they are still underpaid compared to their male counterparts in the same position. 

Q. 12. I’d also like to know your opinion on Women’s Rights in South Africa specifically. How equal do you feel Women are treated by society and people in law enforcement positions?

I feel South African women have a lot of rights on paper. In reality they are shot, killed and raped holding a legal piece of paper that poses as rights. Law enforcement in this country is only here to count statistics.

Q. 13. What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their dreams, but feel intimidated to go against the social norm?

In history it has been proven that for any change to occur a person or people had to make a stand. You have to stand for what you believe in no matter how insignificant it might feel. When I started, I felt alone until I connected with other female illustrators who encouraged me, shared their knowledge and it empowered me. If the people around you don’t believe in you it’s okay. The only person who has to see it and believe in it is you! Everything will fall into place after that.

Q. 14. Who are three women that inspire you?

My older sister Andiswa. She is an art director and I feel like she paved the way for me, she is very resilient and bold. She has taught me how to stand up for myself and be loud about the things that are important to me.

Frida Kahlo, I admire a lot about her. Learning of the hardships she faced both personally and as an artist and to continue on to produce work that lives on today is so inspiring. Giving up is never an option and hardships are not an excuse to stop reaching for your dreams.

Caster Semenya is a South African middle-distance runner and an Olympic gold medallist who’s currently fighting for her right to continue with her career without taking hormone lowing agents or having surgery. Seeing a young black South African female take a stand not only for herself, but also for the rights and dignity of other women in sports, is an empowering act of courage.  

Q. 15. What is one of your favorite female empowerment quotes?

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody” – Maya Angelou 

Travel

I hope you enjoyed learning about Andile and getting a taste of her art style today. I know I am in love with her paintings. So please, check out her work on instagram. 💕

Thank you for reading!

XO,

Mikéla

15 Questions With Andile Bokweni

Introduction:

If this is the first post you are reading from me, I would like to introduce you to the series.

G. D. Anderson said “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” 

This perception of strength she described is the reason I am creating this interview series.  Each article is structured to highlight the strengths, talents, and business pursuits of inspiring women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. 

Thank you for traveling around the world with me as we celebrate these women’s accomplishments.

Andile Bokweni:

Today we are traveling to South Africa to learn about Andile Bokweni – known on instagram as @byAndileh. I am so excited to introduce you to Andile because she is an incredibly talented digital artist. 

In this post we will be discussing Andile’s creative process, women’s rights in South Africa, and more!

15 Questions with Andile Bokweni

Q. 1.  Where in South Africa did you grow up?

My dad was a prison warden at Leeuwkop correctional services; prison officials along with their families were provided with housing. The houses were located within the prison premises, however, they are not in close proximity of the actual prison.

So, I grew up in a small community where everyone knew each other and seeing guards with K9 dogs escorting prisoners in and out of the prison was everyday life for us. 

The place was farm like with open fields, lakes, parks with pools, and a lot of fruit trees; we never got bored. Despite what felt like a serious environment, we had a playful and happy childhood. 

Q. 2. Do you feel like where you were raised has had an influence on your art?

Yes, I was raised in a controlled environment that had a lot of rules for obvious reasons. Every house looked the same, we all went to the same schools, shopped at the same stores; it was very uniformed.

And when I started building my online presence, I tried working with a colour palette to create an aesthetic and I struggled. I didn’t like everything looking the same even though I was getting commission work and growing a following I felt stuck. Also, I’m naturally drawn to open fields and spaces because I like the feeling of being free.

Q. 3. Did you always want to be an artist, or were you pursuing a different path when you were in school?

Yes, I have always wanted to be an artist; however, not in this medium. I wanted to tell stories through film so after high school I studied film and television production.

Q. 4. Did you feel supported for wanting to pursue your dreams? Or did you feel like you were going against your family and friends expectations for you by choosing your own path?

Art in my family is not considered a viable career path. I do think my family supported me in the best way that they can, but I still felt them push me towards a career path that they felt was more sustainable financially like getting a government job. 

Q. 5. What is your creative process/what inspires your art?

I find inspiration in breaking the mould of space, gender and race. The “norm” when it comes to black female representation, I feel it is always limited and restrictive.

My creative process changes based on how I relate to the subject/muse and the space that I am in.

Q. 6. What tools/supplies do you use?

Currently I’m using a drawing and painting application called procreate. 

Q. 7. Are there any business ventures you’d love to pursue in the future?

Yes, currently in South Africa there is a small industry for individuals and/or artists and I would like to provide an affordable and easily accessible service. When I decided I wanted to make a living of my art I found it was way easier to find American based companies that help artists sell their artwork, than finding South African companies. 

Q. 8. What is it like being a female artist in South Africa?

I exist in a digital space. Digital art amongst the black community is almost insignificant. They think I use an app and my art is a result of a filter similar to snap chat. So, my challenge as a black south African female artist is to be acknowledged as a digital artist. 

Q. 9. Are there any misconceptions people have about South Africa that you’d like to set the record straight on?

We have a lot of social ills and injustices that occur on a daily base, especially gender-based crimes. South Africa can be relatively safe with some places experiencing low to no crime at all. However, the countries PR is there is no safe place in South Africa, that’s the misconception I would like to rectify. 

Q. 10. What is something you wish people knew about South Africa?

There is an African proverb translated in English that says “even at a funeral there is laughter.” South Africans embody that and find humour in every situation. We are a very light hearted nation.

Q. 11. We’ve come a long way when it comes to women’s rights, but I still feel that we have so far to go. What is something you’d like to see improve for women?

Unfortunately, equality in the work spaces is still an issue. Women have to work twice as hard to prove that they are qualified for that position and yet they are still underpaid compared to their male counterparts in the same position. 

Q. 12. I’d also like to know your opinion on Women’s Rights in South Africa specifically. How equal do you feel Women are treated by society and people in law enforcement positions?

I feel South African women have a lot of rights on paper. In reality they are shot, killed and raped holding a legal piece of paper that poses as rights. Law enforcement in this country is only here to count statistics.

Q. 13. What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their dreams, but feel intimidated to go against the social norm?

In history it has been proven that for any change to occur a person or people had to make a stand. You have to stand for what you believe in no matter how insignificant it might feel. When I started, I felt alone until I connected with other female illustrators who encouraged me, shared their knowledge and it empowered me. If the people around you don’t believe in you it’s okay. The only person who has to see it and believe in it is you! Everything will fall into place after that.

Q. 14. Who are three women that inspire you?

My older sister Andiswa. She is an art director and I feel like she paved the way for me, she is very resilient and bold. She has taught me how to stand up for myself and be loud about the things that are important to me.

Frida Kahlo, I admire a lot about her. Learning of the hardships she faced both personally and as an artist and to continue on to produce work that lives on today is so inspiring. Giving up is never an option and hardships are not an excuse to stop reaching for your dreams.

Caster Semenya is a South African middle-distance runner and an Olympic gold medallist who’s currently fighting for her right to continue with her career without taking hormone lowing agents or having surgery. Seeing a young black South African female take a stand not only for herself, but also for the rights and dignity of other women in sports, is an empowering act of courage.  

Q. 15. What is one of your favorite female empowerment quotes?

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody” – Maya Angelou 

Travel

I hope you enjoyed learning about Andile and getting a taste of her art style today. I know I am in love with her paintings. So please, check out her work on instagram. 💕

Thank you for reading!

XO,

Mikéla

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