Who are you? What do you do? What is life? What is behind the name Ninjabreadboy?
I am an illustrator and aspiring artist based in Cape Town. I currently work as a freelance illustrator but did work in the advertising world for a while and decided to go freelance at the beginning of last year for obvious reasons. I don’t use any preferred mediums for the stuff that I do, I really just enjoy trying to make cool shit with whatever is available or required on certain projects. I’m all about putting my work onto whatever I can. The name is just a personal joke; I’ve always wanted to work under an alias, and it just stuck and felt right so I just went with it.
What first got you interested in art?
I’ve always been interested in art; since I learnt how to write my name as a child. I started skating when I was very young and all the visual aspects of skateboarding were the things I really found interesting; tattoos, board graphics, graffiti, clothing, were all things I really liked looking at in skate mags. When I was 13 I remember reading an article in Blunt magazine on graffiti and there was one pic in particular that really caught my eye. It was of Wealz 130 standing on a bridge with his hands in the air, above a piece he had painted. I cut that pic out and stuck it on the wall next to my bed and remember thinking “I want to do that one day.”
Mind mentioning some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on, and why?
Last year I got to tick some things of my list that I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I did a small range collab with 2BOP that I really enjoyed doing. We did a 5panel, tee, and bandana together and the response to it was really really good. Also I’ve been wanting to do a skateboard graphic since I started skating and I was super happy with how the board graphic came out that I did with Verb at the end of last year.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m very inspired by Cape Town and my surroundings; the people, cultures, sub-cultures, and everything that goes along with it. I’ve also always been inspired by letterforms and various artforms that deal with letters. I’m always trying to find inspiration in different ways to keep my work fresh for myself. Lately I’ve really enjoyed looking at signage. Anything from old American funeral signage to more modern African street signage has all been really appealing to me lately.
You also delve into some other creative avenues e.g. tattooing and graffiti. What else do you get up to when you aren’t drawing?
When I’m not making something I’m normally skating. Lately I’ve also really enjoyed getting back into surfing, on weekends I try get to the beach as much as possible. I used to surf a lot in high school and only recently realized again how important it is for me. Skating and surfing are some of the only things that really help me to clear my mind.
Best and worst things about living in Cape Town?
I can’t think of any bad things to be honest. Maybe the City Council, and some ridiculous bylaws that have been implemented, that’s the only shit thing about Cape Town. And there are too many good things to mention. I really have mad love for this city.
For iJusi #28
Got any exciting future projects you can talk about?
I’m busy with some really nice projects at the moment, one of which is some signage for a local photographer that I’m really enjoying. Also been working on some illustrated label designs. Also have some exhibitions that I’ve been producing some work for. Other than that there’s a few other things in the pipeline.
Your work is often quite dark in the way it references violence or substance abuse. A lot of it seems very Cape Town inspired. What draws you to that subject matter? Are you attempting to offer a commentary on certain things?
I’ve always been interested in quite dark subject matter. I don’t know why, it’s just kind of always been that way. I really enjoy making images that have a sense of humour but at the same time have a darker twist to them. I think this is a good way of getting people to think about what they looking at. Like I said, I’m very influenced by my surroundings and feel that there is so much interesting stuff going on around me that I don’t like looking too much at what illustrators or artist are imitating or representing outside of South Africa when there is so much cool shit here that has potential to become great subject matter. I think the stuff I draw is a mash up of what I see and experience in my surroundings, and because I’ve always been attracted to the “darker” things, those are the things that catch my attention in my surroundings.
Is there life after death?
I honestly don’t know, and to my knowledge no one on earth knows, and probably will never know, so no stress.
Homeward Bound Exhibition
Karate Water / Ink on 300gsm watercolour Fabriano
Ma Slaan Vir Pa Wyn / Ink on 300gsm watercolour Fabriano
Ninjabreadboy x 2Bop