By BUKAMUSO SEBATA
Walking around Makhanda, you will find plaques labelling the town as the Creative City. The Creative City Grahamstown page describes this as a “bold idea, embracing a range of initiatives and projects which, collectively, help make Grahamstown one of the most creative cities in the country.”
Through an interview with an aspiring creative director residing in Makhanda, it became apparent that even though this town accommodates creative artists, artists in fields that are not mainstream are faced with some challenges.
One of these artists includes Lulutho Mehlomakulu.
Before last year, becoming a creative director was not part of her plans. It was not something she even conjured up as being written in her stars. Her focus was on being a model and an actress, talents she harnesses independently. During her first year in 2019, she met a fellow student, Lucwayitho Vena, in her tutorial group, and they became friends. She found out he was a photographer, and he approached her about doing a photoshoot with her. Vena introduced her to Iithemba Nziweni, another photographer.
She became close friends with the photographers, and whenever they went for their photoshoots, she was always there to advise and help conceptualise ideas for them. Through this unofficial work for the Gemini Vision agency, which can be found on Instagram, she helped them produce the short film Runaways. The short film was selected as part of the Africa Rising International Film Festival, resulting in her being officially brought into the agency as part of the team.
With a newly developed passion for creative directing, venturing into that space was not easy because it is not something done by a lot of people in Makhanda. She believes that the town allows every person on the artist spectrum to explore whatever ideas they have through an artistic and creative lens. Being an artist is generally not easy. Most of the work you do comes from having to take the initiative, something everyone faces in whatever field of work they are in.
Being part of the agency gives her an added advantage to explore her interests and breathe life into the creativity hidden in this little town. Working under Gemini Vision has allowed her to explore creative ideas in a space where being a creative director isn’t as mainstream as being a photographer or a model. This is mainly due to the importance of collaboration in the artists’ community.
Leaning on your fellow creatives to help you bring ideas to life goes a long way because umntu ngumntu ngabantu. That space is not about being competitive but acknowledging and appreciating the like-minded people that exist alongside you and how they, through the community you build together, allow your imagination to be as wild and limitless as possible. Being a creative director in this town isn’t an easy job because it is not a mainstream title in this part of the country.
So opportunities are scarce. Mehlomakulu and her fellow creatives, I believe, are creating and normalising spaces for future creative directors to thrive. Aspiring creative directors and artists need to appreciate the importance of teamwork because this increases your resources and opportunities. Teamwork makes the dream work, literally.
See also: Let’s Talk Movies