Rendani Nemakhavhani is an illustrator and graphic designer whose cred is slowly and surely thickening in these Jozi streets.  She is 2015 ”Emerging Creative” candidate of the Design Indaba and if your eyes are peeled for what’s hot at the moment, you’ll notice her face and voice in a 10 and 5 Young South Africa advert that’s making the rounds on Youtube.  I met Rendani 2 weeks ago at an event where she was presenting her work.  I had seen it before on the innannets and was well impressed by her fusion of good, relevant content with an obvious skill in graphic design and illustration.  It’s very rare to have both the ability to interpret your surroundings and do it in a way that is accessible to a lot of people, even those who might not have your lived experience.  I almost envied her confidence and calm in talking about how her surroundings influence her. To find that at such a young age is a gift.  This woman has a gift and if you’ve come across it, here it is again but if you haven’t, enjoy her innerview. The accompanying illustrations are examples of her past and current work.

Where are you?  I am in my apartment, on my bed.

What is to your right? My black pleather cap.

What 5 words describe who you are now?


Where and when were you born?

I’m a ’91, born at Lenmed Hospital in Lenasia. My mother tells me that I was born at 10am (I think that may explain why I’m not much of an early bird/morning person).


What did you want to be when you were 15?

I always had this fixed dream as a kid, that I’d become a doctor of sorts. Helping people…that kind of thing. This was a strange thing to want to be when I think about it now. My personality didn’t match my dreams at the time. I’ve fallen under the creative umbrella. I know for certain that I wouldn’t survive being a doctor today. Not owning my time (that’s at least what I get from the people around me who are in that field), being on call, the crazy work hours and all of that jazz. Hahaha… Dr Nemakhavhani, it has a nice ring to it, but nah.

Was there an expectation for you to study something either than the courses you studied?

No. My parents and I never had conversations about what I would do with my life and what my career would be. I guess because I worked hard at school, always did my best. That must’ve given them some kind of reassurance that I’d turn out fine in this life. I’ve also always had a mind of my own. I chose what subjects I would continue to do through-out high school without consulting my parents. I went and applied for varsity without my parents knowing, they got involved when all the paper work was finalised and I had told them that the institution had accepted me. I also think that they kind of saw it coming. My father gave me the nickname DIY; I will always do something myself first before going to someone else to get it done.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I tend to get up and just sit or lay in bed for a few minutes and then I jump into the shower straight after.

What role does art play in your everyday?

Art is life. Art is my life. Everything around me is a potential concept or inspiration for a new illustration range or campaign I’d like to do. I love immersing myself in as many forms of art as possible. Whether it’s film, patterns on fabric, books, posters, furniture etc. ANYTHING that is appealing to my eye makes up my everyday experience of what art is. I love having beautiful things around me to look at.


Do you drive or taxi?

I taxi. I’m not quite the driver yet. This whole thing of being a passenger in public transport. In a taxi. To be taxi commuter in Johannesburg is frustrating and time consuming, but also quite entertaining all at the same time. I will get a car soon, but in the mean time I’m a taxi commuter. I have been since matric (2008). There was a car at home when I was a kid, so that life was simple. Then my parents decided it was time to teach young Rendani self-mobility. So yeah, I taxi.

How does Johannesburg influence your work?

My experiences of Joburg, or as I call it Joburgmyhomeburg, are what influences some of my work. I enjoy the atmosphere the city carries. It’s like this one massive body with all these nuances that cater to a variety of people, whether it be attractive or not. I love to see how the people of the city (and by people of the city I mean the people who interact with the space on an almost personal level) are in the city. Johannesburg commands that one behaves in a certain way(depending on which part of the city one is in of course). I feel that this is visible in the work that I do.

hello nice

no sugar

What are you reading at the moment?

Not anything in particular. I’ve been picking up articles here and there. Going through fashion magazines. Looking at clothes. Finding out how money works. What I want to study next year. Looking up how successful people became the successes that they are. So nothing dense right now. Oh but there’s a sale at Exclusive Books’ warehouse happening next week. I’m pretty exblockquoted about that one.

What is your favourite thing to do on the Internet?

Looking up content. Beautiful black faces in particular. I also enjoy reading through blogs and articles that are published on the net. So research.

What did you have for dinner last night?

Meatballs &mushrooms, with a sauce and carrots + pineapple on the side. I cooked. I always prefer to cook.

Who was the last person to text you? His name is Godwin. Nice guy.

cheese kop

Who do you respect when it comes to your career?

I look at craft more than I do at people. I always feel it works out better that way. We are all flawed as beings, so craft will always come before the person. If I had to pick five people, it would be Tumi Molekane, Maria McCloy, Sindiso Nyoni, Herb Lubalin and Jeffrey Rikhotso. Mostly because of the way they dedicate themselves to what they do. They aren’t all graphic designers, but their influence is quite big on me.

What song are you digging at the moment?

There isn’t a particular song at the moment. I’ve become more of a mix person in the past two years. I’ve been playing mixes by Kaytranada and ID10T (Soundcloud) frequently in the past few weeks. I’ve also been going back and forth between the Internet’s most recent album, Okmalumekoolkat and kendrick Lamar.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two commissioned projects. One is on a book and the other about street dancers. It’s crazy how both these projects are with phenomenal people who’ve been introduced to my work through other people who really enjoy my work. They are people who are also not in my field of work. I find myself working with quite a few architects.

DSA graphic 2

What time do you usually go to sleep?

I have the strangest hours. I don’t work like a clock. Sometimes I go to bed really early and get up late in the morning (say 8am). Then there are times when I’ll work through the night and get up late in the morning (10am). I’m hardly a get up really early in the morning kind of girl, unless I NEED to be somewhere that morning. For some reason I got up at 4.30am today. I can’t tell you why.

 What was the last country you visited? Le sigh… I haven’t been out of the country yet.

 What makes you angry?

THIEVES!! People who don’t respect other peoples time. I think these two things don’t need any explaining. Otherwise, I can control my temper.

 Chicken or Beef? Give me the beef baby!

Are you familiar with the magical powers of Coconut Oil?

OH EM GEE! We can talk abut the powers of coconut oil all day. To answer the question, yes I am.

 How do you feel about your hair?

I love my hair! Especially because I can choose to wear it in more than one length. I used to have relaxed hair until I was 14. The relaxer lifestyle was never my choice. When I was in grade 9 I wanted to have dreadlocks, so I had a conversation with my mother about this life change that I wanted to have. She didn’t argue with me. So I stopped relaxing my hair. I didn’t cut it either. I was constantly braiding it until it no longer had the relaxed texture. This was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself as a kid. I never got the dreadlocks, I kept to natural hair.

 How does Feminism manifest itself in your life?

I’m not a deliberate feminist. I think that it tends to creep in here and there. And I say this because I’m not a loud feminist. There are some things that I feel should be common sense and I don’t feel I need to fight anybody for. 

Cocktail or Beer?

In my drinking days I’d go for the beer first and then a virgin cocktail (alcohol ruins cocktails for me). I’m no longer a consumer of alcohol so virgin cocktails are always winning.


How do you feel about our country?

There’s so much happening. All the damn time! It’s like there’s no space to breathe and for silence and peace to exist all at once in this place. There are times when I feel we need a national cleansing; the soul of this country needs to be cleansed. There are so many things that are wrong with South Africa, but there are some things that are coming right with this country as well. I think we’ll be alright…eventually.

What are you doing today? 

I am working from home. I will also be attending a few consultations and getting more work done for next week’s deadlines.

Keep up with Rendani’s work on her blog

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