Interview: Lazi Mathebula breaks down his creative process for the new adidas Flagship Store

The prolific illustrator and art director, Lazi Mathebula gives us an insight into his creative process & what feels like home to him. Lazi is known for creating artwork that has bold, bright, and captivating colors and textures. His new rug for the adidas Flagship Store has exceptionally portrayed Lazi’s signature style. With the city of Joburg in mind when creating his rug, we talk to the art director to understand what elements of the city influenced his work. 

Hello, firstly how are you doing today?

I’m good thanks and you.

I’m good, thank you. Okay, so when you are creating something, what is your creative process?

It depends on what I’m creating. Some things create themselves, or from the client’s int of view, and then some things you create from your own personal point of view. So if I’m doing something for myself, it will come from maybe a story that I’ve read or a song, or like a book, or like something is moving me for a moment, you know. And then when creating for a client I have to create based on the brief that they give me.  

So for this particular project, what was your creative process?

My creative process was Joburg, umm, I mean not Joburg, but the theme was Joburg, so my creative process was-a creative process and inspiration are two different things. The creative process could be like how you start and end. My creative process is sketching, digitalizing, transferring, and then working and then cleaning up. That’s the process.  

You titled the rug, ‘A Flower That Grew on a Concrete Pavement’. What inspired this title?

It is based off of Joburg city and the city itself is like concrete from top to bottom. The buildings are made of concrete, the streets are made from concrete and we almost have to always embrace the city that we come from. So if you look at the rug there are different colours backgrounds, darker colours it shows the different nationalities that make u Joburg what it is and then the colours at the to are the colours of the beauty you see from that stem from different nationalities that come together to make Joburg what it is. 

The adidas Flagship store, made sure that they prioritised sustainability. So, when you were creating your work, how did you ensure sustainability?

Because of time and everything else, what I did was be more socially responsible more than being sustainable. And by that I mean using glue that is not harmful to the environment, using fibres that are organic or getting fibres that are organic as possible. Some are made from plastic and then just try not as wasteful as possible. Everything that you make, just try and be as a resourceful as possible around the materials that you use. So i think its responsible sourcing and not harmful to society or to the environment you know and to the work itself. 

The film is titled, ‘Store as Home’. It focuses on the concept ‘Home’, so when you are creating work, how do you create a space that feels like home and feels comfortable for you. And most importantly, what does ‘Home’ feel like to you.

Home is warmth, first of all. Home is inclusive. Home is flexible. Home is slightly fluid, here and then. So when I have to think about home, I have to think about a feeling that allows warmth, and inclusivity for me is colours. When you see like different colours, that is how you represent things like diversity, you know. So not like one block or blob of colour which means like nothing else around it exists around this. So merging and having an ombre of different textures and colours, because with textures, you feel it. That feeling feels like home, and its not like a glass. When you feel a glass, it feels cold, it doesn’t allow for an engagement, its very fragile too. So when you look at fibres, you can feel different textures. So that texture for me resembles the feeling that you get when you think about parts of the things that make a home…. and warmth.

So mainly warmth?

Warmth and textures.

So last question, any wise words for up-and-coming artists.What advice would you give to them?

That try and make it with your first ideas. Never doubt your first ideas. always make sure that you work towards making your first ideas the best ones because the minute you give up on your first ideas you will give up on other things in the future. So thats I can say. Trust your first ideas.

Okay, thank you so much for your time. Have a good day.

You too. Goodbye

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