On the cover: Ampersand by Hust Wilson
How did you create Ampersand?
I’ve always loved typography and have been creating my own fonts for a while. I wanted to take some of the characters I have created to another level. So I took this symbol of inclusivity and added some depth to it, so that it emerged from the design. You need to zone in to see it.
How did you become an artist?
I’m totally self-taught. Coming from a poor background, I had to hustle from the age of 16, working to put bread on the table while watching YouTube tutorials at night. There’s no limit to what you can learn via YouTube, whether it be copywriting, lettering or 3D animation. There’s so much out there and I feel like people don’t take advantage of it.
When did design become your day job?
My first design day job was in 2013, for my local church. I finally decided to take that leap and started working at a design agency, Roering Creative Kin in 2018, while creating my own work on the side. My first commercial work was with Nigerian-American actress and comedian Yvonne Orji. I had to design an entire font for her HBO special. It had to feel African. It had to have that Nigerian aesthetic. I worked so hard on it, but to see it used was special. I had the feeling that this is actually happening.
You live in Johannesburg, which was put into lockdown to combat Covid-19. How was the experience for you?
It was tough. We had a strict lockdown and a curfew, and it impacted me more than I thought it would. I felt like I wasn’t receiving any ideas. It took a lot of deep breaths and telling myself that it will be OK. I had to wait out this whole period, trusting that eventually things will flow.
The period also saw you create some Black Lives Matter posters for the non-profit social design organisation Fine Acts. How did that come about?
That helped kickstart the creative process again. I got a message from Fine Acts to work on a poster to be used in action in support of the BLM movement. I really wanted to create something with emotion in it, something that would inspire. I needed to understand what people are going through, particularly in the States, and express all of that in the artwork. I worked on five different designs and sent them to pick their favourite – and they wanted all five!
People printed your posters and used them at protests. How did that feel?
It was moving to see people in the States holding up the signs. The amount of time spent designing these five posters, putting my all into it, felt worth it when I saw people use them and hope that they can inspire others as well. For my art to become a symbol that people are now using all over the world is pretty special.
You can see more of Hust Wilson’s work on his Instagram account, @hustwilson
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