By day an art director, by night a creator of art that has the ability to “change perspective, pictures that give life to canvases, and images that can colour an empty soul” Words: Bianca Agenbag
It is not often that you come across someone that is humble and talented in the same measure. Innocent Mukheli is one such individual. Africa first took notice of Innocent as part of the creative collective I See A Different You (ISADY) and the rest of the world followed suit.
Innocence, his twin brother Justice and best friend Vuyo, are the visionaries behind I See A Different You. What started out as a blog which aimed to show the vibrant, exciting, and dynamic side to Soweto (which to them is a place filled with uniquely South African experiences, stories, creativity, and poetic contradictions) has turned into a platform that is changing the way the world sees Africa, one photograph at a time.
The saying goes how you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you …. and in this case, it couldn't be more true! Through film and photography, they portray the powerful urban landscapes, eclectic fashion, and the real stories and experiences of our continent's diverse community, in the process changing the way people view the difference in each other.
The moment we set eyes on Innocent's Instagram page, we were hooked, so of course we had to get to know him a little better and just as we suspected - he is an exceptional young gentleman.
The Wire: What are you up to right now?
Innocent Mukheli: At the moment I’m learning how to run our business appropriately and I am also preparing to go to business school for a better understanding of entrepreneurship and growth.
Tell us more about who Innocent is?
Innocent is a very adventurous, family orientated, multidisciplinary artistic guy with drive. He also has an obsession for sound speakers!
Where did the nickname Steaz come from?
It came from my graffiti background, where I used to tag the name Steaz1.
Where did your interest in the arts originate?
It started in primary school. I had an obsession with typography and I always used to look at newspapers for interesting looking people and challenge myself to draw their portraits.
Tell us more about I See A Different You?
I see A different you is everything that I am. It started years ago when Voyo was only eight and Rendani and I was 12 but we didn’t have a name for our crew. Then in 2011, we created I see A different you as a project to portray Africa in a positive light. Next thing people started calling us that.
Many local designers/creatives have listed you as one of their favourite Instagram personalities. So who is your favourite?
Laduma is a local designer who does amazing neat wear.
Nelson Makomo an amazing painter and good friend.
What artist would you like to collaborate with?
Dave Kinsey, a contemporary artist, and designer based in LA, whose work I’ve been following since my graffiti days.
You are also a style icon to many. Give us a few style tips!
Simple style has no price. To be fashionable doesn’t have to be expensive, you just need to keep it simple. Wear fitted styled clothes, even if it's baggy, it should work with everything that you’re wearing. You’ll never go wrong with a good pair of boots, such as combat boots and you can also pull off a good look with a pair of Converse sneakers.
Most memorable career moment thus far?
When I saw a billboard of us for Diesel x Eden in Paris in 2013 was an amazing moment and also our very first exhibition In Japan.
Who makes you totally star struck?
Honestly, I never get star struck. Maybe when I see old fashionable people haha… :)
What T.V show would you love to make an appearance on?
That would be Mr. Robot or Billions.
If your life was a song/movie what would the title be?
Name three things you cannot live without?
Music, food and adventure.
What is something no one knows about you?
I can’t read the time in a 24h clock format and I have extreme dyslexia.
If you were to die and come back as a living person or thing, what would it be?
A Parkour champion :)
What is your wildest fantasy?
It would be to travel to space.
What word/ phrase do you overuse?
What is next for you?
ISADY will do paint and sculpture exhibition soon, and I am working on a series of illustration about black culture embracing each other.