The striking digital art of Goabaone Mogwe

The future of digital art is undetermined may be yet. However, with creatives like Goabaone Mogwe leading the way and opening doors for all dreamers, it looks like the art form is in good hands, writes GOSEGO MOTSUMI.

“Growing up I have always wanted to be a Super Saiyan from Dragon Ball Z anime, and most children want to be superheroes when they grow up,” says Goabaone Mogwe, who is one of Botswana’s few digital artists.

As an avid reader of comic books from a young age, Mogwe values the speculative fiction’s ability to be both delightful escapism and searing social commentary. But even though digital art is an existing term, most people do not understand what it means or how the art form works, according to this artist.

“Most people think digital art means tracing onto an existing picture,” says the self-taught artist in an interview. “But I draw from scratch on a sketchpad connected to a laptop. I always wanted to do animation as a kid. After attending American entertainer and businessman Steve Harvey’s motivational talks last year, I was more fired up.”

“Harvey talked about how we are sitting on a goldmine with the resources we currently have and untapped opportunities. I also had an opportunity to study for a Masters in Intelligent Systems and Robotics in the UK but failed to secure a sponsorship. Nevertheless, I pushed towards my dream starting with paper sketches before I moved to the digital platform.”

The Internet has popularised digital art where art is made real by the imagination of the artist. In this way, many artists have tapped into their talent to produce multi-million productions with animations that are now a worldwide phenomenon. Having been familiar with computer software from his educational background and platforms used for digital art, things were relatively easy for Mogwe, who is now working towards the dream of producing African anime with inspired African characters telling African stories.

As a starting point to creating awareness for his art, he is creating art that is intricately detailed and bold, with daring imagery that sticks like a vivid dream. He enjoys illustrating from observations in his daily life where he captures all kinds of gestures and expressions of public figures and even strangers.

“My art touches on issues that people are currently talking about,” Mogwe explains. “I have artworks of the Speaker of the National Assembly Phandu Skelemani, rapper ATI, and the famous Dr Gure, just to mention a few. But I also do commissioned work. I want to emphasise that digital art is a form of art and Batswana need to understand that it is a possible career choice.”

A digital canvas offers limitless opportunities for experimentation. Mogwe is currently working on an animation series that he hopes will become an international sensation. Even so, he does not delve much into the details of the upcoming work because it is still work in progress. The emphasis is on creating work of excellent quality and unique storytelling that will break the barrier of not supporting work created by a Motswana.

Says Mogwe: “We have so much potential because no one has tapped into this art form yet. Japan and America have the biggest market of anime and everybody is checking out their content. But they started somewhere and because everyone appreciated the quality they produced, they were instant hits. The Internet breaks all borders and I believe I will create a market for our stories.”