Self-taught artist Ennock Mlangeni (27) from the Free State town of Sasolburg is R30 000 richer after winning first prize in the 2018 BiC® Art Master talent search competition. He received the prize for his portrait of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. He used ballpoint pen for his winning portrait, which was voted for by the judging panel and the public. Over 700 entries were submitted from all over the country. Last year Mlangeni submitted two entries and did not win. With his winnings he hopes to improve his life and take his career to another level. “It proves the importance of perseverance and believing in yourself. What is equally exciting, is that this will open doors for me and continue building my profile,” said Mlangeni. He said he depended solely on social media to promote his work. Mlangeni was orphaned by the age of six and brought up by his grandmother along with his brother and ten cousins. He believes he inherited his grandmother’s artistic ability and flair. She worked as a dress designer and seamstress. He revealed his creativity had developed while at primary school. “Grandmother would tell me to stop drawing and focus on school work.” As he got older and she realised he had a genuine talent, she changed her tune and began encouraging him. His ability was also recognised at secondary school. “The school recognised my ability and encouraged me to enter a local Science Exhibition. I won first prize in the art section in Gr. 10, Gr. 11 and Gr. 12. The prize money I won helped tremendously to buy school items for my entire family,” said the artist, who plans to spend part of his latest prize money to study art at the Vaal University of Technology in 2019.