With a passion for graphic design and an eye for what’s trending on the local scene, Khutso Ngoepe, AKA Instagram’s @khutsotheplug, is creating the sort of visual work that most art graduates can only dream of doing. He’s a rare creative who’s doing it for the love, not the money.
Ngoepe caught our eye when local rap and hip-hop stars started sharing his portraits of them on social media recently. But his isn’t the standard fan art – Ngoepe is a master of pop who uses hundreds of little emojis to create his colourful portraits. From a distance they look beaded or crocheted, but up close they’re hundreds of smiley faces, ice cream swirls, red balloons and so on.
“I love using emojis when I text people, and one day it hit me and I was, like, why don’t I just try to incorporate emojis with my artworks? The first illustration I did was not that good but I saw the light and kept illustrating them more until I perfected the craft, if I can say that,” the 22 year old told us from Polokwane this week.
He’s representing his home town, he says. “I do this for the love of art mostly, and to be one of the first people to excel in graphic design in Polokwane, which is the city I’m from, because I don’t know anyone else from here who has been successful with graphic design.”
Check out more of his work on Instagram @khutsotheplug