Creative Corner: Artist Culumanco Ntobe

I excitedly welcome you back to my blog!!!

Today is a special day! Today’s guest actually lives in my hometown so my level of excitement is through the roof!

Allow me to introduce you to Culumanco Tandile Ntobe aka Bon. A talented artist (my friend wouldn’t shut up about how good he is, not that I’m complaining).

Culumanco Ntobe is a visual creative born in Butterworth, South Africa and raised wherever possible. He’s a Xhosa man living in East London, ZA. Most of his childhood was spread out between Dordrecht, Queenstown and East London.

In school, Culumanco Ntobe studied business and accounting where he says he failed terribly. Thankfully, still managed to acquire his matric. (For those of you who don’t know what “matric” is – It’s the last year of high school).

He listens to a lot of music and has always tried to incorporate it in his artwork; which is influenced by Afrocentric house, jazz, rock and hip hop.

This gifted gentleman was raised by his grandmother. As a younger person, she worked from early until late. Most of young Culumanco Ntobe’s days were prepared in advance.

He grew up on a pretty tight schedule and couldn’t play sports. As a result, he has yet to discover if he has any hidden talents in that department.

Here’s what Culumanco Ntobe had to say:

Artist Culumanco Ntobe aka Bon

What is your main goal for 2021?

To be frank with you, I wouldn’t say I do have any plans. Let me say nothing feasible in particular.

I haven’t seen a growing demand for visual art currently. So maybe what I’m subconsciously already doing is to expand my options.

I have been a strict portrait artist for a good seven years so I will venture into other types of subjects maybe a few T-shirts, a few out of the box ideas to add more commercial value to my brand. Maybe add a price list to my socials and finally accept the nude drawing commission’s I’ve been getting lol.

No, the last one won’t happen soon. But generally speaking, this year is all about availing myself to a wider audience, maybe even adding notes to my art so that I can hold conversations on it with people who might be interested in the culture but have never had the opportunity to meet an artist in person.

All of this action has to take place in order for me to beat the curve, since the pandemic hit our shores all industries have been hit hard and for me, this means my clientele will see more value in saving money up for survival more than decoration so I have my work cut out for me.

What overall message are you aiming to spread with your work?


Let me not box myself in with that dangerous question :-). Most of my art is symbolic of a journey I’m taking subconsciously and it’s very fluid. That’s why I can jump from creating a can animation to exploding images behind a face, it’s all coming from a psycho realm where nothing is ever really as it seems.

But before I stray from the question I could break down a few of my themes, for example, my art is about people always about people even when I depicted animals, I do so with the intention of provoking thought and emotion. I will personify non-living objects and take away the eyes of a person to make them ornaments.

The sub-genre my art falls under is a cross between surrealism and pop art. So in retrospect, I am forging a new reality within our reality…to create a reality with art that is as intense as real life.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Where do I draw…I see what you did there 🙂 inspiration for me is living life itself, I will take something from a book, a song a walk in the street, a day out with a lover, a tabloid in the news politics, a protest, anything for me that is a stimulus that can inspire me to create something.

I try to follow the rules of engagement…it’s like initiation every culture has its guidelines so in terms of art culture I stick to the principle of “art imitates life”.

I also have a keen taste in fashion so I sometimes take into consideration the most successful brands in the business and push towards the same type of authenticity but my biggest inspiration is the people I meet along my journey, their reactions are priceless I love it.

How do you usually work? Describe your workspace.

I work anywhere where there is a source of light that can reflect on my form(surface) I would describe to you my current workspace but it’s embarrassing lol but I’ve used many spaces.

Sidewalks during the day or night pub counters, I’ve worked on a crate in a tavern before (kwandosi), I’ve worked on a live stage before lol while people were performing theatre arts, bedroom (currently), a music studio and finally a professional studio space for ceramics drawing and painting; which by the way are other things that are in my list of skills, so if you ever want a cup with your name on it, I might be the one to make it happen for you:-)

It’s really not a fuss for me I need light and sound for my workspace.

Do you see yourself as a successful artist? Why or why not?

I do…to some extent, I mean a few years ago I was just a black kid from the township and now people will introduce me as an artist; which for me is a step in the intended direction.

I mean it’s one thing to identify yourself as an artist but to get recognition for your efforts is the cake, getting paid to do it is the unquestionable cherry on top. But depending on how you choose to view success, I once got into a conversation about how being a successful artist means having lots of money lol and for me, that was just a conversation where the one party recognises the facts and the other one just wants to block out reality and use fantasy as logic…

If I had to base my success on how much money I make, it would be like expecting fish to walk and stones to fly, so to sum it up some yes…I feel very successful as an artist. I can confidently accept most commissions without a doubt and I think that that’s the moral fibre.

What is your most important tool as an artist?

The most important tool? My mind, I take very good care of my mind.

Pens, paint, pencils, all pointless assets to a pint-size imagination.

If you cannot mould your mind into creating a product to fund your ambitions then having the best equipment is futile also my eyes and right hand but even if I went blind and lost my arm I would find a way lol I won’t be denied.

How do you deal with negative feedback and criticism?

Negative feedback, I hardly get any anymore; which is stressing me out because I need that kind of comparison to make sure my creations are really a formidable force. For me, negative feedback is like that bad teacher that never approved of me so I enjoy it. I enjoy working against it.

Positive feedback can cripple you if you are in this field YOU HAVE TO HAVE MADE SOMETHING UGLY! Even once, there is no way that all you do is magical but my biggest pursuit is getting no criticism at all when that happens, I will put down my brushes and teach others how to get there.

Look at it this way, if you make something and you decide that you are satisfied with it, you have already done what you wanted to do and you should be satisfied but if you go out of your way to get people’s praise you must be willing to accept the opposite if it happens…you won’t grow with only receiving compliments.

What is your message to all the young people who aspire to be artists and do what you do?

To young people: you are different, you are special, and the world will treat you differently don’t…oh no that’s from Superman Returns! Fun, hard work, fun smart work, feel, have fun, eat, have fun if it stops being fun it’s not yours anymore.

You are the only one who can tell when you’ve gone astray from your dreams, your visions, your goals and if your journey stops bringing joy inside of you, you are probably losing it and this applies to any younger person at heart or even physically.

When I was 16 I saw my role model on TV and all he said was “follow yourself”, that’s when I realised that even he needed answers to the most complex questions so if you ever sit there and wonder how you can achieve your own version of success, just remember that the best way to becoming anything or doing anything is to start…also on a practical approach if you intend on following art as a charter start exactly where you are don’t save your energy for when you get to where you want to be.

If you’re in high school, start testing your ability to gain profits from your work if that’s what you want from it. Start asking if you can make them art before you expect them to do so naturally the sooner the better because the one thing that is inevitable about your art is growth.

More than anything else, you will grow and you need to monitor your growth to the best of your ability. Nothing is spontaneous to the point that it cannot be simplified and mistakes are curves in your journey towards completion.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in life and on the canvas own your mistakes and they will never haunt you…

Which artwork are you most proud of and why? What message were you trying to send with it?

There’s a painting of my grandmother, she’s looking dead straight into the camera with her head slightly tilted backwards. All of her wrinkles have been carefully illustrated with burnt umber crimson and Peruvian blue. Around her is a display of falling feathers in an inconsistent rhythm and she’s wearing a doek (headscarf), a green headscarf that symbolises fertility; which speaks to my relationship with her, that maternal affection she gave me.

At the bottom of the canvas, in front of her chest is two pillars which are symbolic of her children- my mother, who gave birth to me and uncle my schizophrenic uncle, who taught me how to draw a proper face…

And between the pillars are two babies holding hands looking up at her. Behind her head is an anti halo (dark halo) with my signature pattern, symbolic of her Godself that pulled us through the darkest times with next to nothing. The halo is being carried by two birds, one on the left one on the right…

I am very pleased with this peace because it speaks volumes about my own life, my immediate reality, what I stand for. What’s more important about it is the fact that it is only in my mind lol. I haven’t made it yet (lol) but when I do, Weird & Liberated will be the first to know about it.

As for now, my favourite piece is titled “Mortality” a piece that was inspired by “To Pimp A Butterfly” by rap musician Kendrick Lamar. I like it because I created it with the intention of moving the crowd but through using subtle messaging this one you can see in the image below lol.

Where can we find your work?

Well, currently I’m a freelance artist so there are no major platforms where you can find my work.

If you go through my IG, you will find a neat display of my work both old and new and please be mindful of my impressions lol. I don’t make and post paintings because they cost a bit much to make (lol let me be one hundred). But, I do promise to get started on my gallery art soon (they don’t let you enter competitions after you’ve had an exhibition in a gallery).

So yes to finish please check me out on Instagram and that is my cue…peace and love.

Check out Culumanco Ntobe’s artworks below:

As Culumanco Ntobe has said, you can go check him out on Instagram (there’s SO much more to see). Follow and support this artist!

I have personally seen some of Culumanco Ntobe’s work so I can proudly vouch for him.

If you have enjoyed getting to know today’s guest, Culumanco Ntobe, then please let me know in the comments. Smash the like button below and share this post!

A huge thank you to Culumanco Ntobe for such an interesting, in-depth interview. Truly appreciate the time and effort and I’m sure the readers will too.

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Thank you for joining us on the blog today and for your ongoing love and support, you’re truly incredible!

Get to know more intriguing individuals like Culumanco Ntobe here.

Check ya later…

A true-crime-obsessed, quirky lifestyle blogger from the coastal city of East London, South Africa whose interests include reading, writing and fitness. Find me on Twitter @WeirdnLiberated.
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