The digital art escape

For the first two years of Lethabo Huma’s career, there was a prevalent focus on traditional mediums of art that led her experimenting towards digital art, a medium she felt resonated with her. “I felt comfortable creating using digital art and focused on it for about three years, that is how I got into the space, she mentioned.

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Huma’s skill has been developed from an early age with her first vivid memory of an artwork that she believes influenced her career a lot for her being a drawing from her grade R class where a teacher had tasked them to redraw an image of a hut with a group of people walking into it. “I just couldn’t believe that I could see something with my eyes and draw it with my hands, it was a beautiful artwork and it made me realise that drawing was something I really loved doing,” Huma exclaims. For the Pretoria based artist, falling in love with the skill was not as difficult. She had always been a crafty and creative person and liked doing anything that involved creating from scratch, be it sewing or making bracelets.

The self-taught artist is inspired by a lot of designers and graphic artists such as the South African graphic artist Menzi. “I really prefer a balance of realism and a sense of geometry which is where the graphics side of things comes in,” Huma said. With regards to realism, she is mostly inspired by Alexis Franklin’s work who is an American digital artist, painter, and videographer.

“My most loved work is definitely ‘See No Evil’. My audience seems to like the artworks that I don’t like much and vice versa,” she said. Prior to her working a lot more with Procreate, Huma was really into sculpting, created a few acrylic paintings and sketches. The flexibility and user interface experience of the software Procreate has allowed her to use it for everything she does, “I’m still trying to explore others but this one has all the tools I need and I’m able to customize brushes and so on”.

Huma’s work largely comes from a place of communication. “I find that speaking using paintings and drawings is what is easy for me. My work is about my mental and emotional responses to life experiences, things that happen to me or things that I see happening to other”.

She describes her art as a diary of certain realisations that she comes across and the canvas as what she uses to speak about a topic or anything else. According to Huma, the birth of the Escapism 2020 series was largely influenced by the pandemic. “With those pieces, I felt like it took too much energy and it exhausted me to get the final product, she mentioned. The series was a way for her to express the need to find a space where she could reach out but not being able to know what that would look and feel like, “I needed a break, a breather, something fresh and new.”

When it comes to creativity, the digital artist operates from the soul and allows it to dictate her next piece. For her to feel confident in what she creates, she believes it is important that she is fully immersed in whatever that is and believes in it. “For Things the fire left behind I had already purchased the anthology about a year back, so I knew what was about it and was fully immersed in what it was about. So, when the author approached me, I knew what to do right away”.

The nationwide lockdown, as hard as it is, allowed Huma to explore more of what technology can do for her work. Her virtual gallery was a way to bring the gallery to the people and bring them comfort, that came from the introverted part of her and helped curb the anxiety and paranoia caused by the pandemic itself. “I feel like technology is there to make our lives easier and I am always trying to find ways to do this, watching an exhibition in the comfort of your home and dressing up seemed like a great idea,” she said.

For the current year, Huma plans on working on a lot of innovative projects and collaborations, learning to use Blender to add more 3D techniques to her work as well as incorporating animation to her personal style. We will also be getting a second virtual gallery based on a group exhibition.

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