Join us in welcoming 2023 Artist Alliance Ambassadors: Mbhali Manzini, Nqaba “Shakes” Mbolekwana, and Richard Average. These exceptional creatives were part of our inaugural cohort in 2021 and have collaborated with the V&A on various projects since their graduation. Their talents and contributions exemplify the magic of artistic collaboration and innovation. Mbhali Manzini Mbhali Manzini makes a return to Artist Alliance, but this time around, she will be joining two other artists as this year’s ambassadors. The illustrator, art director, and founder of ForMeByMe – a brand that specializes in creating bespoke graphic phone covers, t-shirts, pictures, and laptop stickers – will share her journey thus far with creatives interested in pursuing a career in design. Mbhali graduated from Open Window Institute with a degree in Arts and Visual Communications in 2015, since then, she has gone to work on the visual identities of esteemed institutions like FNB, Samsung, Standard Bank, and ABSA. She brings a wealth of knowledge in brand design, advertising, and creative entrepreneurship. Through her business, ForMeByMe, she promotes radical self-love and challenges today’s unrealistic beauty standards for black women. Nqaba Shakes Mbolekwana Nqaba Shakes Mbolekwana is a photographer, independent curator, and cultural producer originally from Eastern Cape. The multifaceted creative studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop. Nqaba’s work, which is centered around his community and friends has appeared on the international fashion publication platforms such as Vogue. He uses his photography to learn about himself as a man and artist. He also forms part of a curatorial collective called ‘Studio Location Practice’, which aims to acknowledge the new ways artists experiment with how to materialise their interrogations, questions, and interventions. In September 2023, he co-curated an exhibition titled Towards New Frontiers, a movement through multiple realms; the self, the public, the absurd, and the uncanny— a plethora of ways young artists explore boundaries that relate to themselves and their surroundings. His photography essay ‘The Hangover’ is currently on view at the Traffic Plaza in The Waterfront. Mbolekwana’s curatorial interests and themes in his work include identity, memory, displacement, and socio-economic politics in South Africa and the diaspora. Richard Average Richard Average’s art is anything but ‘average’. As a matter of fact, his art and use of color have caught the eyes of the international fashion brand, PUMA. He collaborated with them for a one-of-a-kind sneaker collection. The Cape Town-born illustrator graduated from the Ruth Prowse School of Art with a qualification in design after falling in love with drawing, illustration, art, and cartoons at the age of six. His work features portraits of people, sneakers, product concepts, and fashion items. He draws inspiration from street culture and the youth of Cape Town. The core focus of his work right now is mental wellness, he wants to use his art as a means of service to his community, and creating awareness around mental health has become a grounded part of his business. His passion for design and wellness has allowed him to marry social work with art.