Interview: Brent Black (Swart) - Drawing From Observation
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Interview: Brent Black (Swart)

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Getting to Know Brent Black

1. Tell DFO a little bit more about yourself

My name is Brent Swart, but in the art world I'm known as Brent Black – it's the comic book / superhero fan in me.

Born and raised in the Eastern Cape and moved to Pretoria in the early 2000's. I didn't really know what I wanted to do in my teen years - unlike my peers at the time. I just knew that I enjoyed drawing and was torn between Fine Art and Graphic Design.

I started my art career by doing shirt prints and began a tattoo internship, which did not last long as I was accepted to do a Graphic Design course at TUT. The rest they say, is history. I now focus on various design methodologies, with special attention to illustration and alternative advertising.

I enjoy helping the little guys, start-ups, bands and products and services. I am currently Creative Director/Owner of my own company and a Lecturer at TUT art campus.

2. From an art perspective: What are your biggest weaknesses?

Probably time management and creating order/being neat.

My desk (and desktop) look like a crime scene at the end of the week. But there's always method to the madness.

3. Be bold – tell us: "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Would love to see the brand grow into the idea I have in my head.

I am currently focusing on my company, Spaza Studio. I would like it to expand drastically in the next few years. Illustration house, fun clients and happy employees.

4. Out of thousands of artists in SA, why should people appreciate your art?

Light, fun and striking.

We as creatives tend to overlook our own work and achievements and compare ourselves to massive projects and international artists. I'm proud of the work that I've put out into the world, but I always try and better every project I work on.

We all work hard, we just want people to see that.

But I also try to keep my work light, fun and striking.

5. Why do you want to be an Artist?

The artist life seems easy but you need a lot of discipline, especially for freelancers.

I don't think many people realize it. But I strive on the high stress and coming up with ridiculous ideas for clients. It's a fun job and you meet people from all walks of life.

6. What do you consider to be your biggest creative achievement?

Almost 200 emojis.

My favorite job I've worked on so far would be the emojis from the Coca-Cola campaign "share a Coke share feeling". Almost 200 emojis were created and showcased on Coca-Cola products.

7. Tell us about the last time a client, family or friend questioned your art or creativity. Elaborate on what happened.

I feel I take criticism well, I enjoy it and learn from it.

I usually get questioned on the content, why I use certain things in my artwork. It's usually how I'm feeling at that specific moment.

8. When working on art "describe your definition of done."

Never really done.

I have taught myself to put the pen down before I start destroying my artwork, which happens sometimes. I'm never really done, I've just taught myself to stop.

9. When creating, what kind of work environment do you like best?

My environment changes with my mood.

Sometimes I enjoy complete silence, sometimes I play loud music. I recently moved into an office with like-minded people, which I feel has helped my creativity.

I also prefer a wooden table and a comfy chair - haha.

10. What can we expect from you in the near future?

Doing what I love right now.

I am focusing on a few exciting projects at the moment, but I can't tell what the future holds - I'm just excited to be doing what I love right now.

11. What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don't be put off by other amazing artwork on the internet.

Learn how to do it, steal with your eyes. Don't hate other creatives for their achievements, collaborate with them and grow... never stop learning! NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Make friends in high and low places, listen to your friends' weird ideas.

Don't do work for exposure unless you are truly passionate about the product or service. Pinterest is not a great place to get inspiration. And your health above any work, don't burn out for a company to make money. Sleep well, look after yourself and draw everyday.