Cape Town-based graphic artist Richard Horne caught the eye of passersby at the Design Indaba Conference, Emerging Creatives exhibition 2017. Standing out in this curated gathering of South Africa’s up-and-coming artists, designers and entrepreneurs is no easy feat, but Horne’s signature interpretations of pop culture draw on the familiar to create something new. We spoke to the artist and streetwear designer about meme culture, Cartoon Network and the overburdening of the everyday emoji.
“I’ve always felt average whether it’s been academically and in other parts of my life so I wanted to take the whole concept of what is considered average and change it.” Characters from cartoon pop culture staples like Adventure Time, The Regular Show and Steven Universe feature prominently in his work, from his illustrations to t-shirt design. His clothing brand, Average draws on these elements and speaks to a feeling he has had about himself since childhood.
“One of my greatest challenges would just be self-doubt and keeping my creative self-authentic without compromising myself too much,” he explains. “Sometimes I struggle to generate ideas and new concepts because I’m not sure of how to execute it or I have mad self-doubt but more recently I’ve just realised that if I keep working and doing what I love while still handling the business side of things then it’ll work out the way its supposed to.
Like you want to be creative and live well but you gotta make that money too you know?
Horne juggles freelancing with his own personal projects, creating based on his love-hate relationship with meme culture. “I feel like memes have become a way for our generation to express a lot of their pain and sadness, which sucks,” he explains. And as for emojis: “I think they are becoming a bit too real now though, with all these skin colours and expressions. Like I’m okay with a yellow smiley, haha and the one thing I just don’t understand right now is they have all these sports emojis but not one skateboarding emoji, this needs to change.”
But cartoons are where he really sees himself and his peers. “Everything about Adventure Time and Regular show appeals to me. Well, I think that Adventure Time is really weird but that’s the best thing about it. In all these cartoons I feel like I can relate to some of the characters in some way.”
“I would describe myself as a learning creative. I feel like I’m still learning so much every day but as an artist, I’m still creating fearlessly. As a creative, I try to take something from everything that inspires me and use it in my own way.”
The Emerging Creatives programme is a developmental platform for young South African creatives. Find out more.