Richard Average is a Cape Town-based illustrator. His skillful and unrestricted use of color in his creations is not only a reflection of his personality but also serves as an ode to the creative nature of Cape Town youth. His work speaks for itself and if it’s somehow not loud enough, we interviewed Richard and spoke about his passion, his love of sneakers and the uniqueness of his art.
In 2 Sentences, how would you describe yourself?
Awe, wat se julle an? My name is Richard Average. I enjoy street culture, music (especially hip hop but not exclusively) haha and I enjoy skateboarding, socialising, fashion and just being myself all the time and oh, I’m gorgeous.
When did you start on your journey as an illustrator and designer, and what motivated it?
So, I started drawing at the age of 6-7, when I saw my older brother (Chester Horne, who is also a brilliant artist) drawing and I just wanted to try it out and ever since then I fell in love with creating. I found that I really have a passion for creating and I think it was during my college years when I realised what illustration is and since then I have been engulfed in it. I think my motivation behind it was that I could be myself and earn a living doing it for other people. I studied design and understood the fundamentals but I always felt like I loved drawing and when I realised that as an illustrator I can draw and incorporate my design knowledge into it I just felt motivated to pursue it. A lot of my favorite artists at the time while studying illustration were also illustrators and that just motivated me even more.
Tell us about your collaboration with Puma, how did it come about?
The PUMA collab was quite random and cool at the same time. I literally have been drawing sneakers all year and posting it to my social media, and after that, I got followed by Puma South Africa on Instagram and shortly thereafter boom! They slid in my DM’s and wanted to work. They sent me the Puma Cell Venom sneaker and asked me to do a drawing of it. I, of course, decided to do way more than just draw it. I used my creative direction to do a photo-shoot of myself in the sneaker. I shot a video with the help my friend Joshua, of myself creating the artwork and I came up with a dope final piece. It was really fun and Puma is a great client because they allow for creative expression. Puma then shared it on their Instagram and socials and the artwork has been seen by so many people which is a blessing, as the video has about 34 000 views on Instagram which I think is amazing.
A lot of your sketches are of sneakers; do you consider yourself a sneaker-head and what do you usually look for in a sneaker?
I love drawing sneakers and I consider myself a sneaker-head but not really the biggest one, if that makes sense. I honestly draw sneakers because it appeals to me and ever since I was a kid I have wanted to have cool sneakers because to me personally I feel that your whole outfit could be wack but if your sneakers are clean then the outfit just looks better, haha. I also just draw them because I love street culture and a lot of the time I can’t afford the sneakers I want so I draw them because I feel that by me drawing them one day I’ll be able to afford them haha. Coming from a household where we couldn’t really get everything we wanted I think that’s also the reason I just draw these things is because I feel inspired by them and I am compelled to give my artistic opinion on them, through drawing them. I’m a skateboarder (even though I don’t skate as much as I would love to anymore) and to me usually, the most important thing is comfortability. I want my sneakers to look good and feel good on me. However, nowadays I’ve been going out of my comfort zone and trying new sneakers and new looks and just adding it to my wardrobe.
What’s the hardest thing about being an artist, and an artist of colour more so?
The hardest thing to me personally as an artist is understanding the job. When it comes to what I do, there aren’t a lot of guidelines and it’s a bit of a “learn as you go” thing. The industry is very tricky and you really have to stand out, so for me personally, it goes back to just being happy with what you create. I think there is a lot of insecurity as a creative as you tend to look around at what everyone else is doing and forget to focus on you and what you want to do. Even more so as a person of colour. I think to me it was really just having more challenges in my circumstances, like not having a laptop or anything like that to work on and just learning to make the most of what I have and still trying to get that vision across. It’s also a mental thing such as taking care of yourself mentally and physically in order to create work you’re happy with. A lot of self-doubt happens during the creation process and I think it’s about trusting your gut and believing in what you do and NOT comparing yourself too much, especially in today’s day and age. Being a coloured person is tricky because I feel the illustration industry is pretty much white dominated so it does take a little more from you to be even more resilient and make sure that you and what you are is at the forefront of what you are creating.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by music, skateboarding, people and just this culture we are surrounded by. I tend to take inspiration from whatever and wherever and put that into my work. That’s why my work can sometimes seem all over the place, it’s really just because I enjoy it and everything I am around inspires me. I’m inspired by a lot of different artists and illustrators within the beautiful city known as Cape Town. Other than that, I am inspired by fashion culture and sneaker culture. A random fact is that I really can’t create without music, I need music somewhere in the background when I’m creating because I feel like it hypes me up to create what I want to create and how I create it. My mother is also my biggest source of inspiration, she’s helped me with so much and just inspires me every day with her spirit (shouts out to moms).
What do you think differentiates your style of illustration from others?
Hmm good one! I honestly feel like my linework is one of the best in the game right now. Like a lot of people tell me they recognise the work by my style and that’s kinda funny but dope and also I think the way my personal style intertwines with my illustration makes my work even more unique so that in itself will differentiate me and my work from everyone else because I have found comfort and happiness in how different I am as a person and it’s reflecting in my work! Also no one is doing what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, so I’m hella hyped on that and I’m just gonna keep doing my ting (slight flex) and keep building on what Richard Average is and where I am about to go with this vision as a person of colour in illustration.
Which creatives do you draw inspiration from?
Russell Abrahams, Seth Pimental, photographer homie of mine Ethan Beukes (my best friend and one of the best photographers I know HIGH KEY!), photographer homie of mine Joshua (homie shot the whole Puma ting!), Karabo Poppy, Ian Jepson, Photographer homie of mine Jason, Shakoer and all the ouens at BRAhSSE, photographer homie of mine Cheslyn, Keya Tama, Rob Erispe, Nicolas Van Graan and so much more. All these homies aren’t illustrators but they inspire me like crazy with what they do in their own fields and they definitely deserve all the love!
Is there anything you’re working on that we should look out for?
Yeah I recently did another little job for Puma South Africa, which was super fun so go peep my gram on that. Also got some work I’m doing for my favourite local brand @artclubandfriends. We’re gonna cook up a fun little project that involves clothing and sneakers and alles so awe! That’s gonna be pretty awesome. Other than that I got some really cool personal projects dropping so keep an eye on my Instagram. Got some ASICS GEL ARTWORK I’m doing and other than that I’m just gonna take over the world step by step so keep an eye out for everything I’m doing 🙂 Oh and one more thing, Is a lieflikke daggie and its glowboy szn (season) so keep growing and glowing to all my mense out there.