I’m fortunate to know a growing number of bright, enthusiastic and talented artists. Irrespective of their discipline, they characteristically show modesty, a genuine warm personality and possess a natural ability to make an impression on our world. One of these is Laurence Tonderai Shango Muzah , a very gifted painter from south London. I took a few minutes of his time to ask a few questions on his career to date.
What inspires you and how do you keep motivated?
Love, ancient African culture, spirituality, nature and many things really. I feel like I have a lot of ideas I need to express and share. Knowing I have a lot to say keeps me motivated.
What is your favourite medium and why?
Paintbrush. I like using airbrush and spray cans, but you don’t have the same ‘hands on’ feel as you do with a brush. The brush is very relaxing, it’s like doing Thai Chi.
Your work is very figurative, colourful, sexual and thought provoking; is there a conscious message you try relaying in your work?
Yeah, I’m always trying to get people to think, discuss, debate and look at life from another perspective. Sometimes it’s not conscious. I may have a vague idea but I’ll go with the flow. I think art should be food for the mind and soul, not just the eye.
The arts world is likely to struggle over the coming years. How have you handled the commercial and business side of being an artist during this financial climate?
I’m really just starting out as an artist trying to make a living of my craft. I have been relying on my graphic design skills, doing flyers, logos, customising t-shirts. It’s a competitive field; you have to constantly push your skills.
Where do you see the future of art in the UK particularly for emerging artists such as yourself?
I’m not sure. It’s going to get harder as there have been cuts with art workshops I was doing. Art will always be around but its important art workshops for young people aren’t completely shut down because of the less funding.
What are the best and worst parts of being a full time, working artist?
Making a living of creating and being able to express yourself. Our ability to create is one of our greatest gifts so it’s very fulfilling hearing people’s feedback on how they interpret your work or how it makes them feel. The other side would be not having a regular income (yet) or not having the security of a 9 to 5..
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Just starting out myself but I have learnt planning and time management so far. The painting is only one side as you have to understand the business element too.
And finally, where do you see yourself in ten years?
Producing bigger and better works, bringing through the next generations of artists and bridging the gap with musicians, artist and poets.
For further information on Laurence and his work please visit: